The Daphne

With: Nancy Sartor


Wednesday night, Blessed Curse won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in the paranormal category. In a later blog, I’ll go into detail about that. Right now, I’m still flying a bit above the trees in a dream state that feels, frankly, pretty darned good.

Like most writers, I usually have no idea where my novel ideas originate. In the case of Blessed Curse, however, I know exactly when and where.

My husband Dave and I visited tiny Rugby, Tennessee one fall. Bucolic, historic, misty, isolated, sparsely settled, this place is unique in a thousand ways. We viewed the library where first-edition books of the 1880s had been donated in honor of this experiment in giving British second sons a chance to become productive citizens. We visited the church, drove the gravel roads to see Newbury House, Uffington House and, of course, The Lindens. Captivated, I bought books on Rugby’s history, including its array of ghost stories. The novel was already simmering in that misty, dream-like way that feels like a tease.

Months later, on our way back from a Florida trip, we passed the Jemison Thorsby exit off I-65 in Alabama. Something about the name opened the idea well, and the novel jelled with a thud. I pulled onto the shoulder, found a piece of paper and sketched the thing right there.

If I were J. K. Rowling, I might say I wrote the novel as sketched, but that’s not true. Years passed while I honed, edited, re-wrote, asked my writer buds for help and nearly lost my mind. In fact, I published two other novels before this one was ready to go.


She jerked up as if she’d forgotten he was in the room, set her cup on the table between them and leaned back. “He never changed a thing, Lo. Nothing. The clothes I left are still in my closet. My teddy bear still rests on my pillow. He’s nasty with dust and brittle as hell, but there he sits, a forgotten little fat bear with button eyes. Why would he keep it?”

Logan had an idea why, but this wasn’t the time to get into a discussion of Paul Wainright’s saving qualities or lack thereof. “Why’d he do anything?”

She took a deep breath. “Yeah. Once I get the house redone, I’ll put it on the market, but I don’t expect to be overrun with offers.”

“The village calls its own.” Logan repeated the mantra he’d heard a thousand times from Rugbians. People didn’t choose to live in the little village as much as they were called, sometimes wandering in glassy-eyed and disoriented, unsure why they would want to live in such a tiny, inconvenient, isolated place. “It’ll sell.”

“In its own time,” Jorie said.

Logan shivered. The day had been warm, but as the sun set, the system should have moved to heat. If it didn’t in a few minutes, he’d look at it. No sense in her paying an HVAC guy when Logan could fix it for free. Be his last gift to her and then they’d be done.

Another puff of icy air wafted across his back at the exact moment a blast of terror nearly ripped him in half. He jerked up as Jorie leapt from the couch, her face stark white and her eyes huge. Hands fisted at her sides, she was focused on a spot somewhere over his shoulder.

“What?” He leapt up in his turn, whirled to see a horror of body parts twisting in the back corner of the room. Arms, legs and a strange face, its features only half formed rotated in a maelstrom that bled cold the way a storm bleeds lightning.


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About the Author:

Nancy Sartor is a Nashville-born author. A charter member and current President of Word Spinners Ink, she also holds memberships in Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and Nashville’s prestigious Quill and Dagger writing group. She is an enthusiastic graduate of Donald Maass’s Breakout Novel Intensive Workshop, Maass’s Micro Tension Workshop, and the Writer’s Police Academy.

Because her favorite books always do, Nancy believes a novel should enlarge understanding, raise awareness, plead for the less fortunate, define a better way of life, and provide a personal story so poignant it brings tears to every eye, contributing something of substance to the reader.