Shifting Borders

THE BOOK: Shifting Borders
THE AUTHOR:  Jessie Kwak
THE EDITOR: Kyra Freestar
THE PUBLISHER: Razorgirl Press
SUMMARY: When Patricia Ramos-Waites’ sister asks for help resurrecting her dead boyfriend’s ghost, Patricia knows she should say no. But this may be her last chance to repair the fraying bond between herself and her sister. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. When the resurrection of Marco is interrupted by a gang of drug smugglers who are also after his ghost, Patricia accidentally becomes possessed by him. Now, she and Marco are stuck navigating the tricky relationship of Host and Hosted — all while trying to parent two difficult teenagers, dodge criminals, and heal the ever-growing rift between Patricia and her sister.
Jessie KwakTHE BACK STORY: Patricia and her sister, Valeria, came to me as a writing prompt in a class by Jeffrey Ford. He asked us to think of someone we’d met recently, then imagine that we’d followed them to see where they went. I remembered a Nicaraguan woman I’d spoken to on the bus the other day. Maybe she got off at the stop just after mine, I thought. Maybe she walked into that pho restaurant to meet someone — her sister. Maybe her sister asked her to raise the ghost of her dead boyfriend. And maybe that resurrection went terribly, terribly, wrong.
I read the first draft in class, and Jeffrey Ford told me that if I didn’t write that novel, he was going to steal the idea. It took me a few years to get it done, but he doesn’t seem to have stolen it yet!
The element I had to research most was the religion Palo. I watched a lot of videos and read a lot of blogs of Palo practitioners, and I also read this fabulous book: Society of the Dead: Quita Manaquita and Palo Praise in Cuba by Todd Ochoa. I’d highly recommend it.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title refers to the permeable nature of several types of borders: the border between the dead and the living, the border between Patricia’s mind and Marco the ghost’s presence, and the border between the US and our southern neighbors.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The most common feedback I get from people is that they don’t normally read horror, but they were intrigued by the description and got totally hooked in the relationship between Patricia and her sister Valeria. It’s a ghost story, sure, but mostly it’s the story of two adult sisters navigating their love for — and frustration with — each other.
“Expository world-building is one of my touchstones, and mad props go to Jessie Kwak for keeping this story rooted in direct, realistic experience, and allowing the fantastic elements to unfold naturally, without dragging the pace down with exposition. The story comes to us fresh, unencumbered, and immediately realistic.”
Eric Landreneau
“So this is not a story of ghosties and ghoulies and the stealing of souls. It’s the story of family loyalty and love and the impossible task of showing love without enabling self-destructive behaviour. It’s a book about trying to maintain a normal home for your family while the world around you – and the spirit world as well – are falling apart.”
Gordon A. Long
“The prose is crisp and the pace is steady. It’s set in the real world, but not quite as you know it: Here ghosts, magic, and possessions are both real and routine enough to be used in courtroom settings and subject to byzantine import/export laws (while still something dangerous enough to be revered). She draws you into her modern-day alternate-world Seattle setting with a skillful plethora of sensations that many residents of the Pacific Northwest will find comfortably familiar, while also infusing elements of Central American culture and occult in a way I found both refreshing and interesting.”
Alexis Radcliff
AUTHOR PROFILE: Jessie Kwak is a freelance writer and novelist living in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not writing B2B marketing copy, you can find her scribbling away on her latest novel, riding her bike to the brewpub, or sewing something fun. You can learn more about her at, or follow her on Twitter (@jkwak).
SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can read an excerpt of Chapter 1 here:
WHERE TO BUY IT: Currently just available on Amazon:
PRICE: $11.99 paperback, $3.99 Kindle
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Email: Twitter: @jkwak Twitter: @jkwak

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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