From the Author
After going through the list of original characters in The Winter Calf, it became clear that only two had sufficiently unresolved stories to carry a new story. Jerome was an obvious choice. His past deeds would haunt him in spite of the support of the Mayfield Family. A second character, Charles Funkhauser, had barely appeared on the page; yet, his story called to me. I knew that Jerome should meet his grandfather but found it too convenient and obvious of a plot choice. The story needed magic and ghosts whispering in the night.
In the Spring of 2015, I began writing Jerome's story using a rough outline that ended with Jerome meeting his grandfather. Yet, something was missing. Like the first novel, I intentionally featured a woodstove in the first chapter as a way to introduce the Blevins family. As I explored Jerome's fate in the next few chapters, Iris Littleton intruded again and again - a ghost from the past. She simply would not be left alone. Frequent flashbacks between Iris and Charles quickly filled many pages. It was at that point that I realized I had two novels.I had already written half of The Whispering Souls when I put it aside to write more of Iris and Charles'story in what became The Wasted Grave.
The Wasted Grave surprised me - and my readers. New characters emerged with their own eccentric backstories. Iris became a little like Scarlett O'Hara, a woman with many suitors but too angry to make amends with her true love.Charles became a hero - but also a lost soul trying desperately to make things right. Harris and Basil further complicate Iris' life, pushing her towards her eventual fate as a hermit and her reputation as the mountain witch.
Once The Wasted Grave was published, I took a break to work on another novel (to be released next year)and gather my thoughts. Later that winter, I picked up Jerome's story as he meets Amanda in church. With the Maple Gap universe now expanded and Charles background fleshed out, I revised the original outline. Iris' tea and moonshine became integral to the new plot.
In writing the sequels, I did my best to maintain the original tone. In particular, readers can still interpret the magic in Maple Gap many ways. Did Iris conjure a snowstorm over a cup of tea? Do Charles and Amanda really hear voices - or are they schizophrenic? Is Ruth's accident a tragic coincidence - or murder? Do angels really call on the wind?
Both novels offer a universe ripe for expansion. As long as my readers demand more additions to the Maple Gap saga, I'll continue publishing them. Iris Littleton is sure to appear again.