Oneonta resident writes debut novel

Feb. 24—Jennifer Donohue has paired her love of Shakespeare and science fiction/fantasy to write her debut novel titled "Exit Ghost."

"Exit Ghost is a novel that I've been pitching as 'modern witchy girl Hamlet,' which is also my basic starting point," Donohue said in an email. "I've loved Shakespeare since my first encounter with Romeo and Juliet as a freshman in high school."

She said she took an entire year of Shakespeare classes via electives and was inspired by several movies that came out, including "Romeo + Juliet," Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" and Lawrence Fishburne in "Othello." She also wrote a short story based on Romeo and Juliet from Tybalt's view.

The Jersey Shore native said she started writing two novels, "one that was based on Hamlet and not speculative at all, and one that had nothing to do with Hamlet, but was about witches in Asbury Park, New Jersey in the 1970s, and after both of those drafts petered out, I sort of shuffled them together like a deck of cards and then wrote to The End, and that's what became Exit Ghost."

Donohue, who received a bachelors of arts degree in psychology from Hartwick College, said she and her boyfriend, now husband, stayed in Oneonta after graduation as it was the mid-way point between both sets of their parents. She works at Huntington Memorial Library and runs a writing workshop for the library, HML Writers, which started in 2014. "We've gone virtual, but have still been meeting," she said.

She said she took advantage of National Novel Writing Month in November and wrote a draft of her novel fairly quickly. "The final draft that looks most like the published book came together in about a month," she said. She then did some rewrites and sent it to several people to get their opinions in order to refine it. "The original false start drafts that I was working with took a little longer than a month each, so it has certainly been a years-long process," she said.

She started searching for an agent in 2020 to get her book published and thought with the number of current novels with "witchy" themes it wouldn't be hard to find one, she said. "Unfortunately, that didn't pan out, so much like Dorothy in Oz, I had the solution with me all along," she said. "I've been self publishing a cyberpunk heist novella series, 'Run With the Hunted,' since 2018."

She said she felt "proud, and relieved," when she held the printed copy of her book for the first time. "Proud, because I was holding the first physical copy of the first novel that I'm publishing, and relieved because everything looked the way that it should, from the cover to the margins."

She has also had short stories appear in genre magazines Apex, Fantasy and Escape Pod. She said she likes the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres because she likes to stretch the margins of the real world.

The book is available on Amazon and most digital platforms, she said.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.