A retired English teacher, I have enjoyed using my new leisure time to write. Long married to my high school sweetheart, I have three children and seven grands. My husband and I live at beautiful, rural, bucolic Smith Mountain Lake in Southern Virginia. I look out from my wee writer’s loft onto pristine blue waters encircled with a wreath of green-covered foothills. Nice inspiration!
Lucky to live on a lake, I spend leisurely hours kayaking, boating, jet-skiing and just plain dock-sitting and enjoying the scenery and action. Each winter hubs and I visit our youngest son and his family in Hawaii for six weeks or more. Smart boy to marry a Hawaiian! We love to spend time with our other kids and grands on the East Coast. A member of two book clubs and writers’ groups, I also practice yoga and join the ladies weekly for golf. I have to discipline myself to spend time writing.
Readers can connect with me via Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/Susan-Coryell-Author-149075331807592/
Twitter: @SCoryellAuthor. Blog: www.susancoryellauthor.blogspot.com
I have always known I am a writer. In fact, my family is riddled with writers. Both brothers are well-published; our maternal grandfather was a published poet; all three of my children are published and at least one grandchild, at the age of nine, has declared herself a writer. Seems we can’t escape it!
I do hours and hours of research for the history background behind my cozy mystery/Southern Gothic series, the Overhome Trilogy. I visit museums, battlefields, historic homes and farms, and I read, read, read! I use actual history for my contemporary stories with a Civil War background. But I consider attention to all details important. For NOBODY KNOWS, my new release, for example, I read two whole books on large-animal veterinary, as well as many articles and I interviewed a tech-vet at length. This was all for a minor part of one character in the book. I learn lots and often find it hard to know when to quit researching and start writing.
Thus far, I have published four novels. My first was a YA anti-bully novel, EAGLEBAIT, which won some major national and international awards. In its third edition, updated with cyber-bullying, EAGLEBAIT is available in both print and e-book. My latest is a series, the Overhome Trilogy. These cozy mystery/Southern Gothics take place at fictional Moore Mountain Lake, which is based on my actual home here in Southern Virginia. A RED, RED ROSE and BENEATH THE STONES were both nominated for a literary award by the Library of Virginia. NOBODY KNOWS, my new release, finishes up the story of Ashby Overton’s life and times at Overhome Estate where her sixth sense helps her solve mysteries and problems caused by ancient spirits inhabiting the historic house and grounds. Sorry, I cannot pick a favorite as I tend to fall for every character I invent! All three of the Overhome books are published by The Wild Rose Press in New York.
Blurb for NOBODY KNOWS:
Why do ancient spirits hover at the crossroads between two worlds: the living and the dead?
With a successful writing career and blissful marriage, Ashby Overton is fulfilled and content at historic Overhome Estate in Southern Virginia'until a stranger walks into her life. The arrival of Professor Ellis O. Grady coincides with a violent and bizarre turbulence emanating from the dark world of Overhome's ancient spirits.
As paranormal events build into chaos, Ashby must use her sixth sense to sort out the real from the imagined in both the visible and the invisible worlds as, stirred into fury, the souls of Civil War slaves engage in a dangerous battle destined to reveal long-held secrets of the past.
What is the connection between the enigmatic professor, a slave-built chapel and a restored overseer's cottage on Overhome Estate? Ashby struggles to find the answers before the spirits destroy her family's heritage, and the lives of those she loves.
I love the writing process—really! Everything about it—even revision, which many authors hate. My process begins with theme—underlying meaning. What do I want my readers to take away from my books? With EAGLEBAIT self-esteem was a major theme—how to build this characteristic as a shield to school bullies. For my Overhome Trilogy, a major theme is understanding the culture and society in the South where long-held, hard-felt ideas battle with modernity. Of course, every literary novel is multi-themed. Family ties, finding self, understanding how history shapes us and our lives—all are present in my series—along with “actual” ghosts of the past to drive home these themes.
All writers are shaped by their experiences. My thirty years of teaching embeds itself in my books whether I intend for that or not. I wrote EAGLEBAIT while teaching middle school—the petri dish for bully germs! Not much research needed there. My current series pulls from my teaching years--observing people and working to understand and motivate them. It’s a natural transition into fictional characters with any mix of personalities to spice up the plot.
I am excited about my new release, NOBODY KNOWS—first because it finishes the series—always satisfying for writers—but also because in the novel I was able to explore a theme dear to my heart: man’s inhumanity to man. Viewing a documentary on the systemic re-enslavement of those freed after the Civil War, I knew I had found my guiding theme for the final book in the trilogy—providing both closure for the series and, to my own mind, restitution for one of the most horrific times in our American and Southern past.
All three of the novels in the Overhome Trilogy are cross-genre: cozy mystery and Southern Gothic. What’s not to like about cozies? Rural, pastoral setting, quirky characters, long on mystery and short on gore and sex. The Gothic involves an old house, troubled villains and ghosts. I find it an irresistible medium for getting across my message about life in the South today.
EXCERPT from NOBODY KNOWS:
Walking over the weedy ground, I felt the desolate abandonment of those long-dead. A few tilting gravestones, so blurred with time that their epitaphs were illegible, listed toward the ground as if sheltering from a punishing wind. Scattered among the patchwork grasses were small, thin stone markers set in the dirt, little more than raw rocks, though several bore the faint outline of initials which had been chiseled into them so long ago. Ellis and I surveyed the bleak cemetery, each harboring our own thoughts. I don’t know how long we stood there breathing in the silence. Then, I heard the voice.—so clear, so distinct, that I startled and almost fell back. Did my companion hear it, too? I darted a look at him. He stood with eyes closed, evidently completely lost in his own reverie. I held my breath and listened with all my senses on alert. The voice wavered this time, as though trailing away, but its repeated message was identical to the one I had first heard at the Overseer’s Cottage when the candlestick went missing. I had thought, then, that I heard “red apple,” which made no sense. Now I understood. “Jared Chapel,” the voice warned. Yes, its tone was severe. Demanding. “Jared Chapel.”
I touched Ellis’s arm. “It’s here, Ellis. I know it is.” And when he blinked uncomprehendingly, I added, “You wondered if Jared Chapel offers anything in your search for your ancestry. It’s here—there’s something here. I feel it and I...I know it.”
He blinked several times, a serious expression on his face. “You know because...”
“Sometimes the past speaks to me. I can’t explain it, but I have to trust the voice that tells me things.”
He rubbed his chin. “You know...this is odd. Really odd.”
I raised my eyebrows in a silent question and he continued. “Because I thought I heard something. I definitely felt...a presence I can’t explain. Someone trying to get my attention. Someone very, very seriously trying to make me understand.” He shook his head. “Understand what? I confess, I’m baffled.”
“It’s a sign,” I said. “Something I’ve learned over my years at Overhome. We ignore the signs at our own peril.”
Nobody Knows will be released on October 14. It's available for pre-order.
Remember, everybody: HALLOWEEN creeps in at the end of October. What better way to celebrate than by reading a spooky trio of ghost stories in the Overhome Trilogy.
Thanks, Diane, for a chance to participate on your awesome blog!
You are very welcome, Susan. Glad to learn more about you.