Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Roger Hobbs graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 2011, where he majored in English. He studied film noir, literary theory, and ancient languages.

His first book, Ghostman, was written during the summer between his junior and senior years at Reed. He spent the school year rewriting it and editing. The manuscript was sent off on the day he graduated​. A few weeks later it caused an uproar at the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair, and has since sold in more than fifteen countries around the world.

Hobbs applied the Page 69 Test to Ghostman and reported the following:
Excerpt from page 69:
I opened the bag of pills. I sniffed the mouth of the bag a few times. They were a pressed white powder, which means they were made in a factory. That doesn't mean much, though. A lot of drugs come out of factories, even illegal ones. There are whole industrial complexes in South America that press fake Oxycontin. These pills weren't Oxy, though. They smelled slightly clinical, like a polished hospital floor. I thought that they could have been some form of speed, like methamphetamine, but they were equally likely to be aspirin. For all I knew, one of these guys got really severe migraines.

Finally I took out the cell phone. It had a design that hadn't been popular in a few years. I pressed the green button, and I guess it had been charged because the screen flashed on right away and went into start-up. When the logo went away and the home screen popped up, I spent a minute trying to find any stored contacts. The list was completely empty. Then I looked for the list of recent activity. There had been a series of missed calls from a blocked number starting just this morning, but not a single voice-mail. The one outgoing call was over a week old. New York area code.

I put the phone away, took out the one Alexander had given me, powered it up and dialed Marcus' number.[...]
In this scene my narrator, a career criminal who simply goes by Jack (or the cryptic alias, "Ghostman"), is examining a bunch of unusual items in a backpack he finds stashed away in a secret storage unit used by the man he's trying to find. This page is quite indicative of the novel as a whole, I think. First things first, we get a great taste of Jack's tough, no-nonsense hardboiled narration. He is a rough and plainspoken guy, who speaks to the reader conversationally as if he were telling you a story in a bar. He may be tough, but he's still relatable.

Second (and more importantly), this passage is descriptive. Ghostman excels at its fun, didactic descriptions of a criminal's world. My book doesn't just show the reader what's inside the backpack-- it lets the reader into Jack's tough, knowledgeable criminal mind. We don't just see pills, we see everything they could or couldn't be: Oxycontin, methamphetamine, or even just plain old aspirin. Ghostman isn't just a thriller novel, it is practically a primer course on all things bank robbery.

The only downside is that nothing exciting happens on page 69, which is rare. The page is a little boring and light on action. However, one thing's for sure: if you like this page, you'll love my book.
Learn more about the book and author at Roger Hobbs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue