I've experienced unique inspiration for the story behind many of my stories and Secret Lady is no exception. Overall, the book is based on events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s Mennonite forebears during the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Historical accounts from the Civil War are a huge part of the inspiration behind Secret Lady. I grew up hearing about the war and its enormous impact on the family, and knew it would inevitably become the focus of a story or two, but the initial challenge to write this story didn’t come from the war.
My eldest daughter, Alison, told me of the uncanny connection she and her friend, Cristin, have with the creepy closet in our house. It is, in fact, the only closet. Old homes were built without them, and it’s a slightly more modern addition. Throughout her childhood, Alison was terrified of this walk-in, but duck your head space, particularly unfortunate as it occupied the far-right corner of her bedroom. The extra creepy factor is the entry to hidden parts of the house lies at the back corner of the closet. Alison learned that Cristin, as a child, had recurring dreams (nightmares) about a closet in an old boxy white farmhouse that strongly resembled ours. In her dreams, Cristin ventured up the stairs, walked to the end of the hall, and entered the last bedroom. She feared a black antique trunk (check—we have one from my great-grandfather) in the closet at the far right of the room where a disturbing presence dwelled. It wasn't a huge leap to conceive a heroine with similar fears. And I've always been fascinated by time travel so knew that is what this story would be.
At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house "warbles" between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she'd paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.
Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?
Against the background of Sheridan's Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?
She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.
This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.
The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.
She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. “What do you want from me?”
There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~
Secret Lady, published by The Wild Rose Press, is in print and kindle at Amazon:
Available from all major online booksellers.