The Ghosts of Heaven: visual tour + giveaway

January 5, 2015 2015, giveaway, marcus sedgwick, sci fi or futuristic, Wendy 48

The Ghosts of Heaven: visual tour + giveawayThe Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
Published by Roaring Brook Press on January 6, 2015
Genres: historical, science fiction
Pages: 336 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet's obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book's final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick's gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession.

marcus sedgwickThere are a handful of authors who have an open invitation to come do anything they like here at The Midnight Garden, and today’s guest is one of them. I don’t think of the word “genius” much in conjunction with novelists, but it pops into my head often when I read Marcus Sedgwick’s books. He is the 2014 Printz-winning author of the glorious, bloody Midwinterblood and a favorite guest of ours.

His newest book features 4 stories, which can be read in order or not, as the reader chooses. All are linked by spirals that appear again and again. What does it all mean?

We’re pleased to be kicking off the official The Ghosts of Heaven blog tour with a visual tour of places that inspired portions of his newest book! Though really, don’t be surprised if you drop in one of these days  and Marcus is just casually strumming a guitar and painting golden apples with us or something.


In Search of Spirals: A Visual Tour of The Ghosts of Heaven
by Marcus Sedgwick

To be honest, you don’t have to search very hard for spirals; once you start looking for them, they’re pretty much everywhere. I found that after I decided I would photograph and post to tumblr every spiral I saw in a year – after about three weeks I gave up because it was taking me half an hour to walk down a single street in London. After that, I restricted myself to the ones I liked the best. Why all these spirals? Well, my new book, The Ghosts of Heaven, consists of four novellas that ponder the nature of the spiral. And why would I do that? Because I have always felt that the spiral is not only a beautiful shape, but that it is a mysterious one too, that very possibly is trying to tell us something.

Some of the nicest spirals you come across in your travels are spiral staircases. Some are really ornate and spectacular, some are very bare and simple, like this one in the Pantheon, Paris.

spiral 1

Here’s another amazing spiral staircase; this one is a memorial to resistance fighters of the Second World War in Slovenia.

spiral 2

But I’m getting ahead of myself – although I’d been thinking about writing a novel about spirals for a long time, the first place that really started the actual stories that make up the four parts of the book, was here:


This amazing tree can be found in Heptonstall, Yorkshire, England. It sits in a wooded valley beneath a house that once belonged to the poet Ted Hughes, and which is now home to a creative writing centre. I was teaching there one week in May a few years ago, and feeling like afraud because my own writing wasn’t going so well at the time. Then I came across that tree, and the strange hole in the conjoined trunk immediately suggested folkloric activity to me – if the local people didn’t use to the see this tree as something magical, I would be very much surprised. Of course, this tree may not be so old as to have lived in our superstitious ancestors era, but that really didn’t matter to me – what mattered was that I felt the book starting to take concrete shape.

Enough of wandering down the road posting spirals to social media, it was time to do some proper thinking.

kings park hospital

This was once King’s Park Hospital, a psychiatric centre, now disued and derelict. Finding this place began an interest in the derelict insane asylums of North America, most notably those built to the design of Dr Thomas Kirkbride – his hospitals were beautiful structures (that itself was part of his intended cure) and while many have been demolished still others stand empty and half forgotten, like the one I visited in Poughkeepsie, NY.


Other places influenced the book a lot too, particularly a walk around King’s Park, Long Island, where I came across this abandoned building.

Others have been luckier – the one in Salem, OR is now a social history museum:

salem OR

While the very famous Danvers State Hospital, MA is now fancy apartments.


In one of those nice moments of serendipity that sometimes occur when you’re writing a book (and which I always take to be good omens for the project) I found out that many of these Victorian asylums had spiral staircases in them.

On the same road trip as the one above to Danvers, I decided to swing by Providence, RI, to say a hell of sorts to a writer who used to freak me happily out when I was a teenager; HP Lovecraft.

The Swan Point cemetery had something I’ve never seen in all my ears of visiting graveyards; an automated grave locator:

grave finder

“Locating the deceased,” how Lovecraft would have loved that notion.

Anyway, here’s his grave marker. A very simple thing, but what an epitaph:

HP Lovecraft grave

I think I’d been feeling a growing New England/Lovecraft vibe growing for one section of the book, and this was the tipping point, so I pay a little homage to Lovecraft in the section of the book called The Easiest Room in Hell which features a Lovecraftian poet in an insane asylum along with some of his mad poetry.

Other places I cannot show you – I can’t show you the exact cave that inspired the Neolithic section of the book, but I’ve visited many of the caves in France that hold the oldest art mankind has produced, places such as this one, Pech-Merle, Dordogne, France. It was a composite experience of many such visits that started me thinking about this part of the book, called Whispers in the Dark.

cave paintings

And then there are the places which only a handful of people ever have been – in this case; outer space, we ourselves live in a spiral armed galaxy, and this is one of the things I find fascinating about the spiral – it’s there, in nature, science, mathematics, in every scale, from the galactic down to the level of DNA, or the motion of particles in a cloud chamber. And they’re all utterly beautiful.


Further Info:

Follow Marcus Sedgwick on Twitter!
Check out the author website!
Become a fan on Facebook!
Read an excerpt of The Ghosts of Heaven!

The Ghosts of Heaven goes on sale Tuesday, January 6, 2015, published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of MCPG. Our thanks to Marcus Sedgwick for this lovely tour!

Previous Midnight Garden features with Marcus Sedgwick:

Midwinterblood Q & A and Review
A Photographic Tour of She is Not Invisible


Win a Ghosts of Heaven Hardcover!

Thanks to our friends at Macmillan, one of our readers will win a shiny new hardcover!

All you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’re specifically excited about reading this book.

Open to US and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway copies were provided by the publisher. Photographs supplied by the author. vine-divider-finalVisit the rest of the tour for more exclusive content and interviews!

The Ghosts of Heaven Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 5          The Midnight Garden
Tuesday, January 6          ExLibris
Wednesday, January 7    Teen Lit Rocks
Thursday, January 8       Fat Girl Reading
Friday, January 9            Step Into Fiction
Monday, January 12       The Book Wars
Tuesday, January 13       Miss Print
Thursday, January 15     Ticket to Anywhere
Friday, January 16          Alice Marvels

vine-divider-finalAre you intrigued by the spirals and settings that inspired The Ghosts of Heaven? I’m in the middle of the book now and I am certainly eager to put all these puzzle pieces together!

Wendy signature teal








48 Responses to “The Ghosts of Heaven: visual tour + giveaway”

  1. Lyn Kaye

    I very much admit that I am having some issues reviewing this book. I loved it, I did, and it is so hard to place into words about the feelings and the reactions of the stories. I LOVED the staircases, and it is easier to see what made this such a fascinating plot device!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: The Martian

  2. Kimberly V

    This sounds like one of the most interesting concepts for a book that I have ever heard. I think genius can apply in this case.

  3. Kim @ YA Asylum

    What an awesome post. I was already really, really interested in this book — I mean, look at that cover! It’s sooooo beautiful — and now I cannot wait to read it. My TBR list is already so long, but pretty covers (whether or not that’s really a good idea or not) tend to end up at the top of my list. Also, I’m more prone to buying physical them because they’ll look nice on my shelves. Loved this post, thanks for sharing!
    Kim @ YA Asylum recently posted…Bookish Woes: Moving

  4. Natasha

    I love the pictures and I can’t wait to read this one!
    I love reading ghost stories too, so this sounds like a perfect read for me!

  5. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    Wow, these places are amazing! I love the spiral staircases, I have always had a “thing” for them, and said if I ever had money, I’d have a house with one ;) This book just sounds so incredibly unique and meaningful, and I adore that kind of book! Thanks so much for the chance!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…Sins of the TBR, 2014 Edition

  6. Giselle

    Wow so cool! And my coblogger enjoyed this one recently so I’m def curious about it! I love the spiral staircase pictures – I actually spend a couple hours google imagine staircases last week haha. We’re building our new house this summer so I love looking at house plans and stuff. >.<
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers

  7. Kelsey

    These photos are so beautiful! Serendipitous findings in both nature and architecture make for wonderful writing inspiration. The tree from Yorkshire is breathtaking, and it’s really interesting to hear how natural and manmade structures both inspired the novel. I’ve heard some of the hype surrounding this book, but I’ve never read anything by Sedgwick; I’d better start going through his works soon!

  8. Sydney A

    It was really fun to see the different places that inspired the book. Especially the place in Salem! I have been there before!

  9. Carina Olsen

    Amazing post Wendy. <3 I did enjoy this book, despite having some issues with it, hih :) It is the second one I have read by this author, though I also own Midwinterblood :) I will read it. One day :D I'm glad you adore this author. <3 He do seem pretty awesome ;) And this post is amazing. Sigh. I do love spirals. Such gorgeous photos :) Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

  10. January

    My first thought looking at this book is – beautiful. The cover is beautiful, the locations that inspired it are beautiful and I love that it takes place in both the past and future. I love everything about it! Thank you so, so much for the opportunity to win! :D

    • Wendy Darling

      Yesss, I really like this cover, too! We hosted the cover reveal a few months ago and I actually had no idea at the time that spirals played such an important role in the story.

      This author did interconnecting stories really well in two of the previous books I read (as well as shifting timelines), so I’m anxious to see how it’s done here. I’m glad you entered our giveaway–good luck!

  11. Sandra

    This post has me thinking about, searching for and truthfully, slightly obsessing over spirals! What gorgeous pictures and inspirations. I will definitely add this book to my reading for my home school literature class with my daughter! Inspired!
    Sandra recently posted…Bout of Books Challenge – Day 3

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh wow, how lucky your daughter is! It would have been very cool to study this phenomenon at some length when I was in school. How old is your daughter, if you don’t mind my asking? Layla, one of the reviewers here at TMG, is always telling me about things she’s taught her students and I’m constantly saying “I WISH I’d had a teacher who was exposing me to that!”

      • Sandra

        Hi. Thank you for asking and my daughter is 15. I am new to home schooling and have a very diverse focus in our literature lessons! This post really speaks to me and says… “Katie and I must read!”
        Sandra recently posted…Joining The Classics Club

        • Wendy Darling

          Based on the inclusion of spirals alone, it certainly sounds diverse!

          I don’t know if you’re interested, but you might enjoy his previous book MIDWINTERBLOOD as well–I linked our review and interview with him in the post above in the purple box. It’s kind of a crazy story and it’s not everybody’s thing, but it’s incredibly well-constructed and it’s fascinating to see how he weaves the different narratives together. Of all the YA novelists writing today, he comes closest to the classic literature style of writing, imo.

          Anyway–thank you for stopping by! I’m glad you found us. :)

          • Sandra

            Thank you so much for your time! I just checked out your Midwinterblood post and just ordered it! Sounds as intriguing as The Ghosts of Heaven! Looking forward to reading both!
            Sandra recently posted…Joining The Classics Club

  12. Nikki

    I love the idea of spirals! I’ve always been a little obsessed with the Fibonacci Sequence which essentially is an equation of spirals (sort of) and is found in every single plant and animal on Earth. I’m honestly more excited for this Sedgwick novel than I have been for any other. It sounds soooo interesting!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, it sounds like this book and you are meant to be together! I’ve heard of this, but never gave it much thought until this book came along and now the idea is fascinating. I hope you enjoy GOH when you get to it!

    • Wendy Darling

      Staircases can be so beautiful, and of course symbolic in and of themselves even before you add in the spiral element. I’m glad you enjoyed the post–thanks for stopping by, Jeann!

  13. Vivien

    I absolutely love the photo tour. My favorite places are the abandoned bits and I just LOVE THAT TREE! Must visit. I can feel the inspiration. The main reason I want to read this one is the author. I just loved Midwinterblood and really enjoyed She is Not Invisible. His writing is outstanding. Can’t wait to see what he did with this one!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, I was waiting for you to show up, Vivien! Heh. I’m glad you liked the photo tour, that tree is gorgeous and I can just picture the author stopping to look at it.

      I love MIDWINTERBLOOD so much, too. I’m not usually much on the Printz awards (for some reason, the books rarely agree with me), but in this case I was cheering this book on wholeheartedly as it took the big prize. I hope it means more people will find their way to his books.

    • Wendy Darling

      You know, from what I’ve seen, SINI is the Marcus Sedgwick book most unlike other Marcus Sedgwick books, so I’ll be curious to see what you think of his others! I hope you enjoy this one, I’m planning on coming back to this after I’ve finished to connect the dots. :)

  14. Mel

    I’m excited for the neolithic section! I am a huuuuge fan of the Lascaux Caves/cave drawings and saw a great exhibit on them in Chicago a summer ago. I’d love to visit one day. I’m excited to read and see how a cave like it could inspire this author.
    Mel recently posted…The Fifty Year Sword; A Review

    • Wendy Darling

      Wow, that’s amazing that you got to go to that exhibit! I heard it was fabulous. It would be incredible to see them in person, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they inspired the story in this book as well.

  15. Stephanie

    I find the premise of this book intriguing because of the thought process that led to the final stories appearing in the book. I like the thought of seeing shapes around you and turning them into an experience that can be shared through story.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes! I had visions of Marcus Sedgwick in an AMELIE-type vignette walking around a city and being struck dumb with delight and inspiration by spirals. I’m so curious about the connection between the stories as well.

  16. Leandra Wallace

    Spirals are lovely, and until this post, hadn’t thought about how much they do show up in nature. And I love old buildings, especially deserted ones. So much cool stuff that can be stumbled upon in them! Which could also go the other way…eep. Very curious about this book now!
    Leandra Wallace recently posted…Terrible Titles

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes, I have such a fascination with abandoned buildings, too. I want to go to a ghost town sometime, but I’m somewhat afraid of that as well. Not necessarily for supernatural things, mind you (though I’m not entirely ruling that out), but because I fear being overcome with sadness. I don’t know, I’m so conflicted!

    • Wendy Darling

      I wonder if anyone’s collected author epitaphs? That would be cool to see.

      I’m glad to meet another MIDWINTERBLOOD fan! Love love love that book, and good luck with your entry. :)

  17. Elisa @ Leopards and Dragons

    Oooh, ooh, I can add to this. Looking at those pictures I realized that I knew a building that looked eerily similar. In Buffalo, NY is the Richardson-Olmsted Complex – it was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, while Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designed the landscaping, all based on the “system of enlightened treatment of the mentally ill developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride.” The Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane was opened in the late 1800s.

    You can see some of the photos here and at the bottom of the page here“ – there are a bunch of historic photos there.
    Elisa @ Leopards and Dragons recently posted…2015 Full House Reading Challenge

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, that’s so awesome! I love old buildings and confess to a trainwreck sort of fascination with things like abandoned asylums. We almost went to visit one nearby a few months ago, but it didn’t end up working out. There was an exhibit in New York and San Francisco awhile back that had suitcases that belonged to residents of an asylum back in the early 1900s, I believe. I’m still so sorry that I missed it.

      Thank you for those links! I bet those buildings have some cool spirals in them, too.

  18. Rebecca

    What an interesting guest post! I’ve had my eye on this book since you mentioned it a few months ago, and it sounds really intriguing. I haven’t read any Sedgwick yet, but I definitely want to check this out. I also have MIDWINTERBLOOD on my Kindle and I’m looking forward to reading that as well.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m glad we were able to help put this on your radar! I do hope you enjoy MIDWINTERBLOOD (and this, of course) when you get to it–I still think about that story a lot. His writing style is so distinct and his stories so bizarre that he’s very polarizing, though–Kim read MIDWINTERBLOOD recently and appreciated it, but it wasn’t really her thing. Which I totally get! An author you love or one who leaves you scratching your head, I think. ;) When you read it, let us know which camp you fall in if you remember!

    • Wendy Darling

      So do I! And yes, I feel like a learn a new tidbit of interesting information about this author every time I read another interview. He’s definitely got eclectic interests and tastes, and it shows in his work.

  19. Pili

    Oh wow, what a fantastic guest post! I’m now on the second story of the book and although I’m feeling some stirrings in my rage (witch hunts are one of those things that make irrationally angry) I absolutely adored the first story! Not only because I’ve always loved whatever information about the prehistoric times, be it non-fiction or novelized, but also because the spirals were a big (and still rather unexplained) part of the cave paintings!

    And there’s the golden ratio spiral that is the very same one that is present everywhere, both in man made structures as in nature itself! I think I’ll finally get to finish this one in bed tonight, since I’m excited enough to push through the upsetting parts of the second story!

    I hope we’ll both love it once we’re done so we can discuss it on Twitter, Wendy!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: Symbiont by Mira Grant!!!

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m so glad you already have and are reading the book! Is this your first Sedgwick, Pili?

      I have been sick off and on since Friday night so I haven’t read anything other than contemporary romance, hah. But hopefully I’ll get to finish this soon so we can discuss!

      • Pili

        Oi, I hope you’ll feel all better soon Wendy! *sends feeling well vibes*

        I hope to finish it before the weekend too! And yes, it is my first Sedgwick book, I’ve had Midwinterblood in my Kindle library for a while but I haven’t got to read it yet! Given how I’m liking this one, I’ll have to make it a priority!
        Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #76!!

        • Wendy Darling

          Oh, thank you! It’s not even that bad, but it does mean I’ve been constantly tired and unable to concentrate on much. I’m enjoying all my smutty books, though. :D I’ve been lucky that they’ve mostly been good ones.

          And yaaaaaay! I’m glad your first Sedgwick experience is a good one, and I have a feeling you might like MIDWINTERBLOOD even better. And then you and I have so many backlist titles to read, too! I loved WHITE CROW–so weird and so genuinely frightening. *shivers*

          • Pili

            Sometimes we need some smut!! I know the feeling, you want something that won’t require too mcuh concentration to follow plot points!

            White Crow? I need to check that one! *goes to Kindle shop* I’ll be adding it to the wish list for when I lift my book buying ban! And oh dear, I have so many books in the TBR pile AND the Kindle library, but yet I itch to buy more!! It’s the bookworm’s curse!!
            Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #76!!

            • Wendy Darling


              WC is really, really strange and also very polarizing–but man, did it scare me. I liked it a lot. A lot lot lot.