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


Barnes & Noble

Select Publications

Bluestem, BULLCrab Orchard ReviewDistrict LitGravelthe museum of americana, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, Oxford MagazinePermafrostSequestrumSliver of StoneSlush Pile MagazineSolstice, Split Lip, Superstition Review, Thoughtful Dog

Recent Publications

“Many and Many a Year Ago”
2019 Norton Girault Literary Prize in Fiction
Barely South Review

The McNeese Review, 2019

the museum of americana, issue 16, 2018

“Little Pierre”
Bluestem, December 2018

“Modern Cosmology”
Permafrost, 40.2, 2018

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



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

“One Swift Effort,” honorable mention, 47th New Millennium Writing Awards

“Many and Many a Year Ago,” winner, 2019 Norton Girault Literary Prize in Fiction from Barely South Review (Old Dominion University)

“Sun on Snow on Mountains,” finalist, 2019 Great Midwest Writing Contest, Midwest Review

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


Authors Talk, Superstition Review, 2018 (mp3, 6 mins.)

Interview, Thoughtful Dog, 2017

Interview, Sequestrum, 2016

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

Interview, Rum Punch Press, 2015