The leap from ghost writer to writing about a ghost

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Bob at the Lake

Ellen Hegarty spent most of her professional life as a ghost writer for corporate customers in big cities. Now that she’s moved to Keuka Lake, she’s a ghost writer of a whole different sort.

Hegarty, who writes under the pen name Roz Murphy, will be signing copies of her first novel, Bob at the Lake an entertaining look at an unusual life on Keuka Lake at Longs’ Cards and Books Saturday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The book, about a “somewhat crabby woman of a certain age” who relocates from a corporate job in a big southern city to the shores of Keuka Lake in the dead of winter, appears to resemble Murphy’s own life, which changed when she moved here 10 years ago.

The winter quiet on the lake may be to blame for giving some people “ideas”…sometimes referred to as “cabin fever” or “going stir crazy.” In the case Murphy, those ideas took shape in the form of a portly and somewhat flamboyant, martini-loving ghost named Bob.

“Ghosts terrify me. For the life of me, I don’t know why I wrote this,” she says with a chuckle.

Murphy’s first novel, Bob at the Lake, is a witty and often insightful romantic comedy that touches on lake life in the off-season, local viticulture, living alone and the perks and perils of life in a small, rural community. After working for almost two years on her book, Murphy found a small publisher who was willing to take on her genre-defying novel.

“I never thought I’d write a book characterized as a ‘romantic novel’” says Murphy, who won a multitude of awards for corporate publications during her “previous life.” The character of Bob popped into her head during long winter days on the lake, as a sometimes bumbling but well-meaning companion with a somewhat mysterious connection to the Algonquin Round Table – a gathering of literary luminaries that fascinates Murphy.

Readers will recognize a few locations and businesses in the book, which Murphy hopes people will find true to life.

Publication of her first novel has taken Murphy into a brave new world of literature, where authors “tour” blog-sites and promote their work virtually. Bob at the Lake was published first as an e-book over the winter before coming out in paperback this spring. However, Murphy and her novel, (and possibly Bob?) will be at Longs’ Cards & Books.