It all began in Mr. Pagano’s 9th grade English class. The assignment–write an essay using figurative language. So, I began.
“The day was fresh and bright with a hint of autumn in the crisp, early morning air. The trees were already tinted orange and gold, and the faint mist which covered the countryside gave everything an atmosphere of unreality. The sky glowed like a great sapphire, with the hint of an oncoming storm in it’s depths.”
Mr. Pagano must have been blown away, because I got an A+ on that essay and he didn’t even catch that I inappropriately used “it’s” instead of “its.” That’s how I like to see it, anyway!
Something about that world I envisioned stuck with me, and I continued writing a story using the essay as its opening scene. It involved The House of Bannerman, an abandoned castle-like estate in the center of a rose garden; Polly, trustee for the estate and grandmother of the missing heir; an innocent guy, Michael Bannerman, falsely accused of murdering his brother Delevan over Delevan’s fiance Sybil Sturdivant, a rather shady individual. Michael, murdered the same day as his brother, remained at the estate, unable to rest in peace unless proven innocent of the false charges. His dog Trixie chose to remain with him, and neither were able to be seen or heard until sixteen year old Emily Llewelyn and her dog Chip showed up. Emily’s older sister Doreen was a total hypochondriac who had the rest of the family fooled, so they ended up in the mountains hoping it would benefit her health. Getting what she wanted tended to do that. Emily had a three year old brother named Tryon, and Alfred was up to his old tricks even back then.
The story filled several spiral bound notebooks. What I wouldn’t have given for a laptop back then! And the internet. Researching the historical portion of the novel was daunting. And, I was fifteen… summer came, along with church camp, and the essay and pile of notebooks were put aside.
I kept them though, and the story continued to pull at me. Last fall I found those notebooks, copied them into a Word file, and began to write in earnest.
Much had changed since I first began the story at 15. My daughter Emily, for one thing! I couldn’t have a character share her name. Emily Llewelyn may have had it first, but she was a fictional character… and it was easier to change her name than my daughter’s. Besides, the name didn’t fit the character. I wasn’t pleased with Michael either. I’ve no idea why I originally called the character that, it isn’t even a name I’m particularly fond of. Perhaps that’s another reason the story stalled. The characters had the wrong names.
Miles Delevan Bannerman. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but Miles couldn’t possibly be himself if he was called something else. In August of 2014, Miles got his name and shortly after, Anika Grace Riley had hers. At that moment the characters came to life and their story took off. Miles and Anika dialoged like crazy and it was all I could do to keep up. Like Will Matthews from 715 Mystery Lane, I saw their story as if it was a movie playing and there was no “Pause” option. A lot of late nights, early mornings, and long days ensued. At the end was “Miles,” and the beginning of the House of Bannerman series. About halfway through the writing of “Miles,” I knew there would be a second book. “House of Shadows” and “Miles” were then written consecutively and finished at about the same time.
With four books complete and three more begun, their adventures continue and will keep on doing so as long as this writer can lift a finger to type! If the day comes that I can’t, there’s always the option to voice record. Or tap out Morse code. Whatever it takes, because my characters have stories to tell and one of my greatest joys is to write them.