Monday, April 23, 2012

Destination Inspiration: Never Underestimate the Value of an Angry Mob

Ideas for stories come from everywhere--an article I've read, a song I liked, the cistern in my basement. (Anyone who's read Blood and Bone knows what I'm talking about.) The imagination perks up, mulls the idea around a little and I wait. Sometimes nothing happens. I make a few notes and tuck them away in my idea folder until the next time something catches my attention. Other times, a strange sort of tingle starts at the back of my neck and I know I've got something good.

That's the way it happened with The Witch's Stone. I was still finishing up the first draft for Living Lies, when I happened to catch a television show featuring The Donnelly family massacre. This is a true story about a family murdered in their home by an angry mob  in 1880, and the town that covered it up. I've included the link for anyone who wants to read the details, because it's not the details that gave me that initial spark of an idea for The Witch's Stone. It was the idea of an angry mob committing a murder and how the town might be haunted by the act a hundred years later.

The funny thing is, I nearly gave up on this book. I couldn't quite figure out how the hero and heroine would factor into the story. I'd decided to slip my notes into the idea file and think about working on something else, then I went off to my day job--which, at the time, was at a bookstore. That same day an old man came in asking me if I had any books on web design, I showed what we had. We were a small store, so it wasn't much. But he wasn't all that interested anyway. Instead, he wanted to tell me what his site was going to be about. You've probably guessed it, The Donnelly family.

Turns out, he was related to one of the men who had been accused of being part of the mob. The tingle was back, and when I got home, I took my notes out of the file and got to work.

Aside from the angry mob, The Witch's Stone really has nothing in common with TheDonnelly family legend, but it was hearing that story that the first kernel of an idea formed.

Here's a short excerpt. I hope you like it. The Witch's Stone will be available the this Friday, April 27th...

A flash in the gloom caught her eye and she stopped walking. A small light, there for an instant, then it was gone.

What the hell?

Another flash, this one a little left of the first. She narrowed her gaze. A round yellow glow shone through the trees like the beam from a flashlight. 

Was there someone else in the woods? 

The light disappeared.

Her heart rate kicked up and a shivery cold, slick and horribly familiar, settled over her.  She struggled to pull herself together.  So what if she wasn’t alone? Surely, other people walked in this forest. But rational thinking did little to calm the swell of panic expanding inside her chest.

The light returned, closer this time. There had to be someone out there, coming toward her, but she couldn’t see anyone. 

“Hello?” she called out.

No answer, and the light vanished again. 

Hillary turned to start back to the inn, but froze. Another light had appeared directly behind her, so close she had to squint against the brightness. She peered into the forest murk, but couldn’t see anyone past the bright yellow glow.


  1. I loved hearing about the Donnelly murders (ghastly.) But the reason why I watch programs like ID and True Crime at night.- lots of good ideas. Hubby says I would probably be a killer if he wasn't around to keep me in line. : )

  2. I know, right. If anyone I know ever turned up dead, between the books on my shelves and the browsing history on my computer, I could be in trouble. ;-)

  3. Hi, Dawn,

    How very interesting. I've never heard of the Donnelly family massacre.

    Your story sounds fab! I can't wait to read it!

    Hugs x

  4. Thanks, Monique. It's a really dark tale.