William Auten is the author of the novel Pepper’s Ghost (2016, Black Rose Writing), a 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award finalist for contemporary fiction. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including Crab Orchard Review, District Lit, Notre Dame Review, Origins, Sequestrum, and Superstition Review.

william [at] williamauten [dot] com


Pepper’s Ghost

2016, Black Rose Writing (ISBN 978-1-61296-652-6)
2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist for Contemporary Fiction

Charlotte Alexandra Long is determined to create her own life, but severe reverberations await her at the crossroads of each decision and always the possibility that the very thing she put in place on her own terms could be wiped away by an uncertain future. As Pepper’s Ghost weaves in and out of her experiences as a teen and young adult, and locations in the South and Midwest, Alex emerges from the remains of young Charlotte, but her evolving identity will never escape being an outsider in society’s eyes. After a series of ill-fitting jobs, Alex joins a traveling amusement company as a sideshow performer, where illusion and reality interplay through the metaphor of an old theater trick. She faces challenges from her troubled but devoted father, her self-absorbed mother, a spectrum of circus employees, and emotional ties to memories and places that give solace in times of ambiguity and loneliness.

Praise for Pepper’s Ghost

An immediately absorbing read, Pepper’s Ghost is a deftly crafted and consistently compelling novel that reveals author William Auten as a genuinely gifted and impressively skilled storyteller.
—Midwest Book Review

Pepper’s Ghost will lure readers into its depth. The young character is unlike most leading female characters. William Auten portrayed the realities of life along with fantasy in way the just made readers like myself more curious. Memories and emotions were strong: it was easy to be swept up within them. Pepper’s Ghost is entertaining, mysterious, and deep.
—Urban Book Reviews


Barnes & Noble



BULL, Cahoodaoodaling, Crab Orchard ReviewDistrict Lit, Drunken Boat, The East Bay Review, failbetter, GravelHawaii Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Hungry Chimera, Literary Salt, Nimrod, Notre Dame Review, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, Origins, Oxford Magazine, Panoply, PermafrostPonder ReviewRed Earth Review, Rum Punch Press, Sandy River Review, Sequestrum, Sliver of Stone, Slush Pile MagazineSolstice, Split Lip, Sugar House Review, SunStruck, Superstition Review, Sycamore Review, Terrain, Thoughtful Dog, Twisted Vine

Recent Publications

“Modern Cosmology”
Permafrost, 40.2, 2018

“Crane and Hoist”
BULL: Men’s Fiction, 2018

Twisted Vine, Spring 2017/Fall 2018

Slush Pile Magazine, issue 22, 2018

“Rail Time”
Gravel, March 2018

Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, 2017



Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

Page 1, Albuquerque, NM

Chaucer’s, Santa Barbara, CA

Star Line Books, Chattanooga, TN

BookExpo America/BookCon, Chicago, IL


North American Review Bicentennial Celebration, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA


Bridgewater International Literature Festival, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, VA


40th Annual Literature and Culture Conference, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Awards and Distinctions

Pepper’s Ghost, finalist, 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award for Contemporary Fiction


Author’s Talk, Superstition Review, 2017 (mp3, 6 mins.)

“Drop Off,” Sandy River Review, 2015 (mp3, 5 mins.)