My next project is well underway and I’m far enough along that I feel comfortable sharing the title: Spirit in Time.
This is the third book in my Spirited Quest mysteries (Book 1 is Spirited Quest, Book 2 is House of Seven Spirits). Each story follows ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester as she delves into the paranormal realm. In previous books, my character has mused about how sometimes she feels as though she is the ghost, and the spirits are the ones truly alive.
In Spirit in Time, I pursue this theme as Jillian is swept into the past and must rescue herself and someone she loves. This story is set in 1870s Sacramento, the era of railroad barons and the founding of a new state capital. Former slaves are newly freed, Chinese workers are both wanted and hated, and the lust for gold continues. There are a million possible stories here, but one theme immediately came to mind.
Chapter One takes Jillian to the Crocker Museum, one of my favorite places when I lived in Sacramento. The museum was founded by E.B. Crocker and his wife, Margaret, in the 1870s – a huge structure adjacent to their mansion. Today, you enter through a modern building and then can wander through the old museum and into the mansion itself. Many of the original pieces remain, and the former home of the Crockers is a piece of artwork itself.
There is one particular painting, still hung in a place of honor in the Crocker, with its genesis in the 1870s that drives my plot forward. There is a man in the painting who Jillian must find.
Spirit in Time is a different type of mystery for me – a historical time-travel novel – that is just as much an adventure story as a mystery. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the intensive research involved in writing historical fiction, especially for this story where the setting is a city and state I know well.
My first draft is nearly finished. (In writer-speak, we call this a WIP or work-in-progress.) I’ll spend the rest of the summer in rewrites and self-edits before I submit the novel to my publisher. In current form, it’s only a raw and misshapen story, full of strange plot conflicts that will get ironed out in subsequent drafts. But a first draft is something to be savored. The story is whole and the finish line is in sight.
My imagination is already racing forward to my next Spirited Quest novel, and an early outline is taking shape. But that’s for later. First, I need to spend a little more time in the 1870s Sacramento. Not a bad way to spend the summer of 2020.