By Wenhao Ma
The story of a Port Jefferson murderer — albeit a fictional one — was discussed at length by a novelist and his fans in the village on Saturday.
Author R.J. Torbert brought his new book “No Mercy,” which was released in June, to a question-and-answer session with more than a dozen readers at Port Jefferson Free Library on July 16. “No Mercy” continues the story of fictitious Detectives Paul Powers and Bud Johnson of Port Jefferson, who dealt with the mysterious murderer Ghost Face, in Torbert’s first novel, “The Face of Fear,” which was released in 2013.
“He turned [the Ghost Face mask] into a home town classic.” —Joseph Borozny
“When [readers] look at the cover, they think it’s a horror story,” Torbert said in an interview after the event, referring to the Ghost Face mask on the cover. “[But] this is a relationship story, a love story,” he said.
Torbert is the licensing director of Fun Wold, a Halloween costume company. His company created the Ghost Face as part of the Fantastic Faces series back in 1991.
Torbert noted that there are many differences between his books and “Scream,” the movie that made the mask famous back in the 1990s. He said that he did not design the iconic mask, but he did come up with the name Ghost Face and has been protecting its name and trademarks for years, and even fought to keep the character wearing the mask in the movies from doing anything bad enough to give too dark of a stigma.
“[In the first novel], the person who wore the mask was not necessarily a bad person,” Torbert said.
He said that he had always wanted to write a book, but what turned his idea into action was a novel he read on a plane. He was so disappointed with the story that he started writing on that book. What he wrote eventually became “The Face of Fear.”
“He turned [the Ghost Face mask] into a home town classic,” Joseph Borozny, a Port Jefferson resident and a fan of Torbert’s books, said, adding that Torbert used the Ghost Face character to create something that’s real, not just fictional.
Borozny brought his family to the event, including his 14-year-old son, Joey, who received a Ghost Face mask from Torbert as a gift. “If you like horror movies,” Joey said, “this is the guy you’ll love to meet. And he’s a real nice guy.”
After the question-and answer-portion, Torbet signed copies of the book and posed for photos with fans.