We arrived in Sydney, Australia on a steamy day in early February a year ago. Behind us a good 20 hours in travel was snowy Idaho. We’d long since stripped off sweaters, coats and hats and thrilled to the summer heat of this opposite side of the world. We were exhausted from the long flights but the last thing we wanted was to snooze in a hotel. We headed out to explore.
I knew at once I would set my next mystery in Australia. My ghost-blogging heroine, Jillian Winchester, would take a similar winter trip to this land Down Under and have an adventure of her own. My trip, a two-week cruise from ports in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, was all luxury and ease. Jillian’s, however, wouldn’t be nearly as comfortable.
I took two trips at once – mine and Jillian’s. At each stop, I enjoyed my own trip and then plotted the next book in my Spirited Quest mysteries series. The inverse seasons were a joy to me, but would be a curse to my heroine. We oohed and ahhed over exotic (to us) wildlife, but Jillian would have cause for worry. The terrain, manner of speech, cuisine, everything in fact became fodder for fiction.
This is one of the joys of being a writer, this ability to live more than one life. Whenever I visit a new place, I bring a virtual suitcase full of characters with me. How would they react to this new environment, foods, language, etc.? What dangers and mysteries are inherent in each country?
An especially fun part of this trip for me was reuniting with a high school friend I hadn’t seen in decades. Sue moved to Australia soon after college and I hadn’t seen her since. We met up in Sydney and while there was no way to bridge the years in just a few hours, it was fun to catch up as much as we could. Sue gave me a unique perspective of an expatriate’s life in Australia. Very quickly, it was time to board our cruise.
I wrote in the ship’s café each day over early morning coffee, my fingers flying over the keyboard in the quiet dawn hours. This ghost story, of a family of seven that disappeared during the 1800s, is pure fiction as no such legend exists, but it came alive for me during my travels. House of Seven Spirits continues the story of my ghost-blogger, Jillian, who travels to various haunted spots around the world. The sweltering heat of an Australian summer can be intense, especially in the Outback, and that became part of the plot.
Almost exactly a year later, I get to announce the upcoming release of House of Seven Spirits. I have wonderful memories of my trip and one of them is the time developing this book aboard the ship, and jotting notes to myself while we traveled. I fell in love with Australia and this story — and since writing a book (even a shorter one like this one) takes months and months, I stayed in that wonderful country in my mind for far longer than my visit.
Here’s the blurb from the book:
Some secrets are deadly, and ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester and her photographer boyfriend discover it’s true when they set out to investigate an Australian family who disappeared without a trace in the 1880s.
An abandoned sheep station rumored to be haunted by the long-dead Kinsley family is one challenge. The other is the beautiful but deadly Outback.
As Jillian probes deeper into the mystery, one thing becomes clear: She might not make it out of this quest alive.
And an excerpt:
“Don’t go up there,” Mason warned. “The wood’s apt to be rotted in places. The floor may not be safe.”
She glanced over her shoulder at him and hesitated. Her California beach home was eight thousand miles away—a fifteen-hour flight plus a day’s drive along bumpy bleak roads. She hadn’t come this far to only examine the structure’s exterior. Her work required total immersion.
She put a foot on the first step and tested it with her weight. Mason strode around the car and halted just below the porch with arms crossed. “Jillian.”
The last thing she needed was someone hovering, directing her on what she could and couldn’t do. When she worked, the “real” world faded in importance. His uneasy energy interrupted her focus. “I’m fine.”
The stair was solid, at least. Not even a creak greeted her as she advanced onto the veranda. He cleared his throat as she took another step, but said nothing.
Despite the heat, a sudden chill rippled up her bare arms, sending prickles all the way to her neck. For a split second, her world tilted and her senses were overwhelmed. The musty odor of freshly shorn sheep wool, clothes flapping on a line, young voices chattering, the sharp tang of blood. Just as quick, the images dissolved and all was still, dry and lifeless once more. She let go of a deep breath, and a feeling of exhilaration swept through her.
I don’t have all the buy links yet since the book is just on pre-order status, but Kobo, GooglePlay and other sites will have it soon. Here is what is available now:
Thanks for reading!