Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books
11/9/12 at 01:23 AM 4 Comments

Beginnings of a Mystery, “Watched” by P. L. Stebelton

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When the stirrings of a story begin in the mind, there are as many different ways that ideas take hold as there are writers. For me they vary with each story. The concept of the plot for Watched developed much like popcorn exploding when each corn kernel reaches its perfect temperature, transforming itself into a series of ideas—a variety of thoughts that come into play in spurts at different moments as one leads to another.

Some plots hit you between the eyes, others float in like a fog in a Victorian gothic novel and, as readers will discover, there is a noticeable element of the Victorian novel in my latest mystery, perhaps a leftover from my earlier years when I was a devoted fan of authors such as Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt and Dorothy L, Sayers, Watched comes complete with an old mansion steeped in notorious history, clouded in mysterious happenings, and yes, its characters are also cloaked in secrets!

The heroine, Ginger Hauser, begins as a lonely, uncertain girl who passionately searches out her roots in a surprising discovery of a set of family journals. I found it delightful to weave the unique and classical traits of identical twins into Ginger’s past, thus exploring my long-standing fascination for Identical Twins, and their unparalleled mental and physical closeness.

By incorporating this in the tender story of an intelligent, lovely young woman who gradually becomes aware of her potential, I tried to connect the family’s past lives and emotions to the living, to give Ginger a vision for her future. In her search for answers, Ginger will uncover deep secrets, danger and much more than she is prepared to face.

Ginger’s chance encounter with a handsome newcomer to town enhances her personal awakening. As their friendship grows, the line between friendship and love narrows, and her heart fills with a hope of what might be. Like a butterfly newly hatched from a cocoon, Ginger learns to unfurl her wings and fly.

The existence of evil is especially present in a suspense novel. Accepting angels unaware are continuously around us, we must also realize that evil personalities often take on cloaks of goodness and are not as they might first appear. As the story progresses, Ginger finds it increasingly difficult to discern which is which, watching danger build on all sides. More anxious feelings arise as she realizes she is being stalked by a supposedly respected citizen, and tensions mount even higher, as Ginger begins to see the town she was raised in is shrouded by secrets and dark shadows of evil.

Once my story begins and my major plot is emerging, my thoughts diversify, developing multiple plots that twist their way throughout the story bringing romance and danger on a unexpected front. My fondness for animals often tempts me to divert to a lighter, fun side and weave an animal’s personality into every possible story line.

It is important to me to give opportunity for my characters to discover the true God of the universe, to find His ultimate gift for each person who is willing to receive it. For Ginger, the path of spiritual discovery is rocky, leaving her undetermined, afraid to embrace the spiritual stirrings within her. She wavers on the brink of decision, uncertain how it might change her life.

Tying up all the loose ends to a story is very satisfying, almost like coming home, but also sad because I know I will be saying goodbye to my new friends. Watched was different, because I knew in the coming sequel, I could look forward to experiencing further adventures with these same friends. Look for Inherited Danger in the coming months.

Patricia L. Stebelton, the author of The Sleeping Matchbook and Watched! (OakTara) and a commissioned artist, has also been published in Power for Living and a short story in Whisperings in God's Ear. She and her husband live outside a picturesque small town in the heart of Michigan.

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