Pepper's Ghost novel cover

William Auten

Author of the novel Pepper's Ghost

Black Rose Writing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

William Auten is the author of the novel Pepper's Ghost (Black Rose Writing, 2016). Recent work has appeared in District Lit, Sequestrum, Solstice, Superstition Review, Thoughtful Dog, and elsewhere. Having lived in the Midwest and the South, he now calls California home with his wife.

william [at]


2017 November 16

"Transplant" now available at Open: Journal of Arts & Letters.

After promising myself one year to get out of where I was, after moments and months of considering working as a butcher in the meat/seafood department in a grocery store, clocking in and out at a fast-food chain, or entering grad school for any subject that would not fully hold my interest but that would accumulate more debt, after consecutive weeks of an in-box empty of serious or half-serious prospects, after Capitalism twirled the ends of its mustache and sent the trains of Rent and Bills towards me at break-neck speed, after feeling sick for all the times my cynicism helped me throw snide comments against the phrases Do What You Love – Love What You Do and Create Your Own Success, the one and only option in my dearly loved field appeared. The irony of what my friends had joked about waved as it plopped down next to me when Velvet Glove and I found each other. The tagline that drew me in? Exec Chef Needed for Rebranded Entertainment Club.



Pepper's Ghost cover William Auten
Pepper's Ghost (Black Rose Writing, 2016, 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

Black Rose Writing
Barnes & Noble

Recent Short Fiction

"In Transit"
Ponder Review, forthcoming

Crab Orchard Review, forthcoming

Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, 2017

"Corporate Games"
Thoughtful Dog, 2017

"One Day's Worth"
Solstice, 2017

"Something in the Way"
Superstition Review, 2017

"A Tree in the Woods"
The Hungry Chimera, 2017

"Retire to the Netherlands"
Panoply, 2017

Selected Publications

Cahoodaoodaling, District Lit, Drunken Boat, The East Bay Review, failbetter, Hawaii Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Hungry Chimera, Literary Salt, Nimrod, Notre Dame Review, Oxford Magazine, Panoply, Red Earth Review, Rum Punch Press, Sandy River Review, Sequestrum, Sliver of Stone, Solstice, Split Lip, Sugar House Review, SunStruck, Superstition Review, Sycamore Review, Terrain, Thoughtful Dog


Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM, 2016

Page 1, Albuquerque, NM, 2016

Chaucer’s, Santa Barbara, CA, 2016

Star Line Books, Chattanooga, TN, 2016

BookExpo America/BookCon, Chicago, IL, 2016

North American Review Bicentennial Celebration, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA, 2015

Bridgewater International Literature Festival, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, VA, 2013

40th Annual Literature and Culture Conference, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, 2012