Sunday, December 28, 2014

Spiritwood by G. J. Wise is an exciting new novel of the supernatural which has already garnered praise for "(taking its) readers to the woodshed"

Spiritwood by G. J. Wise is an exciting new novel of the supernatural which has already garnered praise for "(taking its) readers to the woodshed"

Reading it myself, I found it worthy of this praise. Wise quickly sets up a believable cast of characters we care about and a supernatural premise that deserves a novel length treatment.


I had the chance to interview Wise recently but before we get to that, some more words about the novel.

The town Spiritwood borders the massive Chequamagon National forest in northern Wisconsin and it gets its name from an old Native American legend of Indian spirits living in the woods surrounding the town...the thing is, the legend is true.

Sculptor Jed Guiness has a gift -- he can actually see his sculptures in the wood before he ever brings them out.  Jed buys property in Spiritwood, moving there from Chicago. He finds seven massive oaks that contained Indian braves that were more amazing than anything he’d ever seen in wood before.
The trees grow in a circle around the base of a mound deep in a valley at the back edge of his property. Contact with the mound causes queasiness, feelings that something is searching his mind and body, dreams of running into the woods with an axe, and ultimately a realization a sinister power rages within, driving him to cut down one of the trees… to bring it down and free whatever was in the mound.

Jed learns from some residents he befriends about the seven tribes of the Ojibwa and their struggle with dark clan of Red Eagle, who they come to suspect has somehow escaped the mound where he was buried when the town soon becomes chaotic.
Will Jed and the others be able to successfully hold Red Eagle’s spirit in check or will Red Eagle’s spirit, embodied in another Spiritwood resident, prevail and destroy those who mean to imprison him?

As a horror anthology editor, I have had the pleasure to work with Wise. As I have stated before, he is a true fabulist in the tradition of Richard Matheson or Harlan Ellison. In his stories, startling fantasy characters co-exist with humans in an often cold dark reality of the world he creates.

Spiritwood continues these trends, in a logical progression from the short story format to first novel. While Wise has created something all his own here, this novel brought to mind  Stephen King in the way Wise sets up a cast of characters and then once the action gets going, he cross-cuts among all of them at a swift pace. Though Spiritwood has a great plot, it was all about characters first, another echo of King and Matheson.

When asked about this, Wise responded:
I'm honored that Spiritwood brought to mind these writers.  I feel that the greatest influences in my writing have been from Stephen, King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and Robert McCammon.  I should mention Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison as well, but I feel my list is getting long.  The truth is I could mention dozens more writers who influence my writing.  My writing is a product of what I read and I read mostly horror novels, although I don't only read horror.   It is a product of many other things also, but what I read and who I read has greatly inspired, entertained and taught me how to write.

Thanks for taking the time to chat today. I noticed a heavy dosage of abusive relationships in the novel. Was this a conscience decision on your part, that it would be a noticeable theme?
Well, I think it helps to bring some terrifying reality to an supernatural story.  Unfortunately, spouse and child abuse are real tragedies in our world today and it is something readers can easily identify as a realistic evil. 

I thought there was also a kind of Brian James Freeman feel to your masterful use of vivid imagery, particularly from nature, the darkness of the woods and such, and the way you then use this to reflect back on the characters and events. The Wisconsin setting works great for that. Your biography mentions you live in Wisconsin. Have you always? Is Spiritwood in part or at all based on a real town, or its characters on people you know?
I have lived in Wisconsin all my adult life.  Spiritwood isn't based on a real town, per se, but I did envision a town form my childhood as I wrote it.  The characters in the story were completely developed from my mind.  Neither the good or bad characters remind me of people I know, but I think some elements of their personalities, reflect aspects of my own. 

Was the folklore you used your own invention? Or the product of research?
The folklore is entirely made up. I did hear a story once of how the Ojibwa came to live in Wisconsin and Minnesota and wrote that as how I thought a teenager would remember it.  I also found some information about some Native American tribes believing that the spirits of their ancestors lived in trees, but my interpretation is entirely fictional and does not resemble what I read.  Like most of my writing, I take information I've learned and manipulate it to suite my purposes.  It is entirely unfair to the real folklore, but this is a work of fiction and I trust the readers will understand that this is no reflections on the real history of the Native American people.

You chose to have Red Eagle appear to characters in many dreams in the first half of the book? I like dream sequences, some people hate them. One of my editors despised them and tried to get me to lose all of mine. Tell me about your thought process there.

I personally love dream sequences.  I think it is another way to help with the suspension of disbelief.  Dreams are another common occurrence we all as human beings share.  We as normal rational individuals get to experience the supernatural every night when we sleep.  Dreams are often (for me at least) limitless.  We can experience everything without the constraints of rationality, so the impossible becomes possible.  Fortunately, both my publisher and editor thought the dream sequences added to the story and helped to convey a sense of foreboding and insanity that would later play out in the action.

Thanks for chatting with me here and good luck with this excellent first novel.

Check out this wonderful new novel for yourself. There are several buy links below in any format imaginable so what are you waiting for?





G.J.Wise lives with his wife in Silver Lake, Wisconsin.  He’s been writing for many years, seriously for the last few and has short stories published in both print and electronic anthologies and periodicals.  His debut novel, Spiritwood, was released December 1st.  G.J. Wise is currently at work on his next book length dark offering as well as many more short stories.  If you want more information about current or upcoming works, please visit his author page on Facebook ( or Amazon or feel free to contact via e-mail at


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