Book review: ‘Ghost Bully’ by Brian Corley


Full disclosure: I haven’t actually read this book yet, but the premise sounds pretty hilarious, and I can vouch for author Brian Corley, a friend of mine who, like me, grew up in College Station, Texas.

I got my advance copy of “Ghost Bully” in the mail on Saturday and already can’t put it down. Half the battle in writing is coming up with a concept, a hook, a plot that captures the attention of your readers. In this case, Corley nailed it.

But then you’ve also got to keep your reader’s attention for a few hundred pages. I find it challenging to do that with a 500-word news story. Writing a book is no easy feat, and you’ve got to be willing to put yourself in a vulnerable position; people will critique you and you have to remove yourself from worrying about what people will say about your style, your fact-checking, your character development, the list goes on.

And writing is a solitary process, so unlike other hobbies, it’s you and the keyboard for several hours, days, weeks and months. It’s lonely, but it’s rewarding.

This is the first book for Corley, who has a bachelor of business administration from Hardin-Simmons University and now lives in Austin. Oh, and by night, he writes books and plays in a rock band. NBD.

Corley recalls being an avid reader and writer as early as third grade.

“I played guitar because I wanted to write songs,” he said. “I had a sales career but always missed the creative outlet.”

He had a three-week break back in May when he was between jobs and “didn’t want to sleep in every day.”

So he dug up a rough outline from back when he’d been working on a critique of a friend’s book.

The premise is unique, a little dark and definitely funny.

“Roommates can be hell,” states the synopsis on Amazon. “Like when they’re late with the rent, late on bills, or constantly trying to kill you. Jonah Preston thought he knew what he was getting into after signing the paperwork to buy his new home: yard work, a leaky pipe here and there, maybe the occasional squirrel in the attic. He just didn’t expect to share that new home with a ghost. Before all the boxes are unpacked, Jonah learns the previous owner, Willard Hensch, committed suicide in one of the bedrooms. It’s bad news, but Jonah and his (corporeal) roommate, Max, take it in stride. Jonah’s just happy to own a home and begin this new chapter in his adult life. Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly short chapter. Unhappy with his new roommates, the resident ghost quickly makes his presence known. Like, really known. When Jonah wakes up dead, he knows exactly who’s behind it. Willard. Effing. Hensch. For the newly-deceased Jonah, that’s where his new chapter truly begins. He will befriend angels, fight demons, and take on a ghostly army in this comic-paranormal thrill ride through the freakish underworld of Austin, Texas.”

I’ve had some horrific roommates. One who smoked cigarettes inside the apartment, one who watched Jerry Springer all day long and one who pocketed my rent check every month so I got to come home to random, frequent eviction notices. Actually, that was all the same person, and if either one of us had the opportunity to – fictionally, of course – kill the other and come back as a ghost bully in some sci-fi world, I’m pretty sure we’d seize it.

Corley said the novel idea came to him a few years ago and he couldn’t shake it.

“You never think about what happens if someone comes back as a really annoying ghost,” he said. “[The book is like] if Tim Burton and Richard Linklater wrote a ghost story and Seth Rogen directed it. It’s not scary. It’s supposed to be a good time.”

Corley called upon friends and strangers to edit and provide feedback. He invested his own money to self-publish the book, which is set for release next month.

“I spent about as much money on this as my first CD but you get a lot of value out of it,” he said. “It’s not nothing. I knew I needed feedback if it was going to get better.”

He’s also studied several other authors and taken online writing courses. Brigham Young University professor Brandon Sanderson actually offers specific online advice on how to accept feedback.

“That’s really helpful,” Corley said.

And from a personal standpoint, I’m excited to champion a friend who did what we all secretly want to do. He took a great idea, wrote the dang book and then opened himself up to criticism. I, for one, am impressed.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon for just $4.99 and will be released Feb. 6. You’ll get my honest review once I get a chance to check it out.

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