I was immediately intrigued by the premise of OLLIE OXLEY AND THE GHOST by Lisa Schmid. When I found out she was located in a city nearby, I reached out to her for an interview:
Twelve-year-old Ollie Oxley is moving — again. His mom is starting another new job, this time at the Bingham Theater in Granite City, California. Moving all the time means Ollie has struggled in the making friends department, but he quickly connects with a boy named Teddy. To Ollie’s surprise, though, his first friend in town is a little more… unique than those he’s made in the past. Teddy is a ghost.
Befriending someone who lived during the famous California Gold Rush sure does make things interesting for Ollie. But when the school bully, Aubrey, targets Ollie, and it looks like the Bingham Theater might close, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Can Teddy and Ollie work together to take down Aubrey, save his mom’s job, and solve a mystery years in the making?
Folsom, CA is such a cute town. What do you like most about living there?
Folsom is rich with Gold Rush history. It’s the perfect backdrop for my ghost stories. I’m constantly stumbling upon interesting facts or settings that get my creative juices flowing.
Awesome. I love the mystery you’ve set up in OLLIE OXLEY AND THE GHOST. What surprised you most about this story without giving away spoilers when you wrote it?
I was lucky in that inspiration was always just outside my door. Whenever I got stuck with a plot point or a scene, I’d go for a walk, and almost always, the solutions would present themselves. For example, I wrote a scene set at Aubrey’s (antagonist) house. I wanted it to be creepy with a side of afterlife mischief. While on a walk, I met a man standing in his yard, and he proceeded to tell me all about his house’s haunting history. You can read all about it in Chapter 11. Another time, I met a modern-day prospector at the park who sparked the idea for the treasure hunt.
I love serendipitous moments like that, where story solutions come just when you need them to. OLLIE OXLEY AND THE GHOST also has an amazing animated cover. What do you like most about the book’s cover design?
The art truly captures the story’s mood—a mystery with a side of spooky. The illustrator, George Doutsiopoulos, did a fantastic job.
Indeed. What are some of your current projects?
I just finished another middle-grade ghost story that’s about to go on submission. Not to give too much away, but this book is about three ghosts seeking help from the main character. I had so much fun telling their stories and hope to see it out in the world someday. I also have a chapter book series about a crime-solving pug on submission and a picture I co-wrote with Beth McMullen looking for a home.