From New York Times bestselling author Erik Larson comes his first venture into fiction: a ghost story thoroughly grounded in history, released only in audiobook format. We spoke with author Erik Larson about the inspiration for No One Goes Alone, how this special audio-only ghost story came to be, and more!
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
In the course of researching a past book, Thunderstruck, I came across a lot of tantalizing material about the Victorian-era obsession with ghosts and the afterlife, which led some of Britain’s greatest scientists and thinkers to join the Society for Psychical Research. I thought wouldn’t it be fun to try to bring some of this to life through fiction, and the result was No One Goes Alone. I like to think of it as a ghost story with footnotes, though fear not, it does not have a lot of little tiny numbers linked to a ponderous bibliography.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
I think, first of all, they’ll be shocked that for this project I dared dip into the realm of fiction, to produce a ghost story. I think they’ll also be surprised by my source essay at the end, narrated by me, in which I detail the many elements of the story that were factual, including the backstory of one of my lead characters, William James, the pioneering Harvard psychologist.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I was lucky enough to be able to listen to the first three chapters, even as the book was being produced. The narrator, Julian Rind-Tutt, is excellent. Perfect in fact. It’s a spooky story to begin with, but he made it spookier. I’ve always felt ghost stories are best read aloud, and this confirmed it.
Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I’m very picky about audiobooks. My favorites: The whole Harry Potter series. Wonderful.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
Everything. Bookstores to me are a haven from the trials of everyday life. When you walk in, it’s as though the shelves are populated by mystical creatures, all calling softly to entice you to choose them. A bookstore also offers the opportunity to gauge how a book feels. I’m very tuned to the tactile quality and appearance of a well-made book.
Anything else to share with us?
My new audiobook, No One Goes Alone, has been a pet project of mine for years. I just never knew what to do with it. But then the publishing industry came up with a wholly new vehicle, the audio original, and immediately I knew that my story had found a home.
Header photo by Nina Subin