Author Q&A: Lucy Banks- Dr. Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural and the Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost
Kester Lanner didn’t know what he was getting into when he followed his mother’s dying request to contact the mysterious Dr. Ribero. Kester's youthful surety of the world is shaken as he learns the secrets his mother took great care to keep. Meeting Dr. Ribero reveals a side of his mother he never even guessed existed, for Ribero is his long lost father, and soon Kester is thrown headlong into the family business: catching supernatural spirits. A logically-minded academic type, Kester is frightened by the sudden plunge into an unknown and dangerous world. He's intrigued, despite his fears, as he reads an old diary that tells the chilling tale of the portrait of a beautiful woman, which is the home of an old and malevolent spirit. She’s a cunning spirit, and she just might be more than Dr. Ribero’s agency can handle. Kester soon becomes enmeshed in a struggle with a ghost so powerful and haunting, that his first real case with the family business might just be his last. Dr. Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost is a contemporary twist on the Victorian Gothic novel, with a dash of humour to lighten the eerie, sinister tone of this modern day ghost story.
The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost is the first in the Dr. Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural series. Lucy Banks charms and delights her readers in this modern paranormal adventure reminiscent of a gothic ghost story. Publisher's Weekly say, "Contemporary fantasy fans hungry for a new angle will enjoy this one."
We sat down with the charming Lucy Banks to talk about the creation of Dr. Ribero, the development of his team, and got the dish on Lucy's favorite member(s) of the team!
AJ: We love the modern twist that The Case of the Green Dressed Ghost takes on the gothic novel. How were you inspired by classic novels to develop your story, structure, or style?
LB: I am a sucker for gothic novels – particularly Frankenstein! The great thing about a classic ghost story is that it’s a subtle, creeping horror – rather than a crazy gore-fest. The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost wasn’t so much meant to be frightening, but I wanted to capture that growing sense of threat throughout – combined with a classic ‘mystery’ structure, with the main character finally solving the case. Mind you, it’s fair to say I’m equally as inspired by Ghostbusters and Scooby Doo! AJ: You’ve told us before that the entire story started with the creation of Dr Ribero’s character. Can you tell us more about that early creation?
LB: It was a few years back, in a writing class in Exeter – we were doing a character exercise and out leapt Dr Ribero! Initially, he was in a short story (investigating stolen rhubarb in a Dorset village), but after writing it, he simply wouldn’t leave me alone. He niggled away in my head and I just knew I had to get him into something bigger. A few months later, I made a start on the book, and the rest, as they say, is history! AJ: Dr Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural has so many great, well-rounded characters. We have to know… who is your favorite!?
LB: That’s impossible to say! I probably relate most to Kester – that nervous, slightly socially inept, bumbling Britishness is 100% inspired by what I was like as a young adult. Pamela’s the character I’m most fond of, mainly because she’s so unfailingly optimistic, and Dr Ribero’s indignant outbursts are always great fun to write. I do love writing them all though – is it strange to say they’ve become a little like family? I certainly find myself missing them whenever I complete a book! AJ: Can you tell us a little bit more about your process of researching and drawing from myths and your own experiences for inspiration?
LB: I grew up in a pretty spooky house. However, it was what I was used to, so I never used to think much about it. As a result, I think a lot of my impetus comes from wanting to normalize the supernatural and also, to bring out the comedy element – sometimes, fear can be funny! I have huge encyclopedias and books on ghosts and the occult (not because I’m a weirdo, honest), which are great for dipping into and getting inspiration. When researching particular spirits, I tend to take the conventional ‘myth’, then turn it on its head a bit – encouraging the reader to see them in a different way. AJ: Can you give us a tease of what we can look forward to for the second book?
LB: The Case of the Scottish Fetch introduces another of the area’s supernatural agencies, led by the dreaded Larry Higgins (one of the most enjoyable characters to write ever). Without giving too much away, it’s a mysterious, threatening case – involving murder, grave-robbing, and yet more embarrassing cock-ups from Ribero’s crew!