ForeWord Magazine

ForeWord This Week
Story 1

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Aaron's Crossing goes national
Ghost story to be included in Barnes and Noble Halloween display

by Whitney Hallberg, Editor ForeWord This Week

Linda Alice Dewey

It took Linda Alice Dewey nearly fifteen years to turn her real-life ghost story into a book that would inspire and comfort readers. But since Dewey self-published her creative nonfiction book, Aaron's Crossing, in September of last year, things just haven't slowed down. The title received several reviews from local newspapers in her native Michigan, as well as some attention from national publications, including ForeWord.

The first edition of the book sold thousands of copies and was a top seller in Northern Michigan, reaching the #2 spot on the region's bestseller list. Then early this year Hampton Roads Publishing Company president Bob Friedman brought Aaron's Crossing (304 pages, softcover, $16.95, 1571745122) to the press, who picked up the title for a September 2006 release.

Several weeks ago the news broke that Barnes and Noble has made a purchase of several thousand copies to use for a nationwide Halloween promotion in its stores.

"Aaron's story never lost momentum from the moment I decided to self-publish," Dewey said. "It's becoming so huge. And yet, in a way, most of us involved in some way with the project have 'felt' this coming. Kind of like the song in West Side Story: 'Could it be? Yes it could. Something's coming. Something good!'"

The book is the true story of Dewey's 1991 encounter with a troubled ghost in a northern Michigan cemetery, where she was vacationing. Walking through the graveyard with friends, they all felt a "heaviness" in the area, and Dewey became aware of a spirit. The ghost, she later discovered, was that of Aaron Burke who died in 1922 as a widower whose grief had caused him to abandon his children and move from his Michigan home to Ohio.

When Burke "followed" her back to her cottage after their meeting in the cemetery, Dewey sensed he was having trouble crossing over to the afterlife because of his guilt. Returning home to Arizona, Dewey contacted a friend who channeled another spirit and helped Aaron to move on.

Five years later Dewey says she was revisited by Aaron, who began to tell her the story of his life and death. Each day she sat down and wrote, as if taking dictation. The work became Aaron's Crossing, something which she felt needed to be told.

She submitted the book to traditional publishers, and began collecting a file of the rejection letters that flowed in. Then Dewey, who was a teacher for twenty years, received advice from her mentor in the book industry to self-publish.

"He said the industry wouldn't pay attention unless I printed 2,000," she said, "so I went one step further and printed 3,000."

Dewey began traveling the state, scheduling her own book signings and appearances. She even made a few visits to Chicago. After a few months, her mentor introduced her to Friedman at Hampton Roads.

"I thought it was the best ghost story I've read in a long time," Friedman told FTW. "And it was an unusual one as well. It's written with great energy and insight."

Unlike ghost stories of threatening spirits that are meant to frighten the reader, Dewey says Aaron's Crossing offers comfort and insight on the afterlife. Aaron's tale is an optimistic and heartening one with humor and a background to the character that makes it believable.

"Linda's story of her interactions with these kind of entities is sad and poignant, but also uplifting in the sense that she is able to help Aaron cross over," Friedman said.

Dewey says she knows that her story is real, so it doesn't matter to her whether people believe or not; but many do.

"Wherever I go, people come up to me and talk about their own ghost experiences," she said. "It's so fascinating, inspiring, and exciting."

Dewey is also a musician and composer. She said most of the music she has composed over the past thirty years has fit with Aaron's story. She has directed Reader's Theater productions of the novel, and is now developing a full-scale musical adaptation.

Her book will be featured on the Ghosts & Supernatural table in Barnes and Noble stores across the country in October.

"Aaron's Crossing goes beyond being just a good 'scary' read of a ghost story. The book's unique aspect is its perspective on life from the ghost's point of view. More than a spine tingling read, it also gives a glimpse to 'the other side,'" said Jules Herbert, a buyer for the chain told FTW.

Since receiving the news about the Barnes and Noble purchase, Dewey has been busy scheduling book signings and appearances at stores in the Midwest.

"I'm a do-er, a take-action person," she said. "When the door opens a crack, I step in."

Whitney Hallberg, Editor