East Mesa resident, horror enthusiast and author Ryan B. Clark wouldn’t call himself a believer in the supernatural. Instead, he is a self-described “speculative believer.”
He does appreciate the lore of towns like Jerome. Inspired by the local ghost tales, Clark took creative liberty and composed his own stories of the local haunting legends.
The result is Spirits of Jerome. He will sign copies of it on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, at the aptly named Spirit Room in Jerome. The event also features a performance by songwriter Stephen Ashbrook, who wrote the foreword.
“He’s a big deal,” Clark says. “When he plays Jerome, the whole town sells out.”
Spirits of Jerome features 10 short stories, each with a ghost sharing his version of a wise tale.
“All of my stories are about real ghosts in town, but I made a fictitious story about them,” he says. “You will recognize the ghost, but not the story.”
An ASU graduate who taught high school English in Pinetop, the 44-year-old Clark released his book in October, serendipitously. He and Ashbrook hosted a party at the Crescent Ballroom. Clark is still in awe of the foreword.
“He talked about how Jerome is a place where you are allowed to let all of your skeletons out of the closet,” he says. “You can be whoever you really want to be and all of the judgment is gone.”
The follow-up to Spirits of Jerome is Native Myths…Echoes of the Ancients set to be released in the fall. It will include 10 stories inspired by Arizona’s indigenous tribes. Amazed and captivated by the history, he wants to assure the stories are written out of inspiration and appreciation for the tribes.
“If you think of every indigenous tribe as its own sovereign nation, then you technically don’t need a passport to travel the world,” Clark says. “You can stay in Arizona and go to 13 different countries. They have completely different systems.”
Clark is releasing a poetry collection in June, Kindred Spirits and Mirrored Souls. All his publications are available at keepthegreasysidedown.com.
“I am always chasing the muse,” he says. “That’s the hardest part.”
Spirit Room, 166 Main Street, Jerome, spiritroom.com, 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, and 11 p.m. Saturday, April 14, $10.