Author Interview: Maisy Card

These Ghosts Are Family is a transporting debut novel that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. We spoke with author Maisy Card about her inspiration, the importance of independent bookstores, and more.

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Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend.

And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.

These Ghosts Are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the house boy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley’s actions.

These Ghosts Are Family explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret.

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I was inspired to write the book by family stories and early memories of my visits to Jamaica. I wrote the novel over the course of almost twelve years, so it didn’t take shape all at once. Halfway through the process, I became inspired specifically by my grandfather and some choices he made later in life, and so I decided to have the narrative revolve around the decisions of a single patriarch.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

The novel is a panoramic view of the formation and the fracturing of a family, so readers are in for a wide range of voices.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

Yes! I love the way Karl O’Brian Williams gave each character—no matter how minor— unique voices. His range and ability to transform is amazing.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

Yes, I love Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons and What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah, read by Adjoa Andoh.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

I love the way independent booksellers put the time and the heart into curating collections that appeal to their communities. It’s exciting to visit indies because I never know what I’ll find there. Professionally, booksellers have been such generous advocates for my work so far.

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