The In-Between Hour, Back Story

Back Story

As with The Unfinished Garden, the original story seed came from a dark what-if moment in my own life. An older family member was experiencing short-term memory loss that generated anger, confusion, and a string of emotionally exhausting phone calls. In the middle of one of those phone calls, I had a terrible thought—could life get any worse? I decided, yes, it could. And my mind created Will’s dilemma.

Memory, grief, mental illness, rural Orange County…ideas started swirling and I did what I always do—I followed my gut, my curiosity, and my research. I’d been toying with a ghost story, and that idea had already unearthed threads about psychic healing, rock climbing, Native American spirituality, and animal guides. All those roads led to Will and Jacob. Poppy popped out pretty much formed, and Galen evolved while several people close to me were battling depression. (Echoes of my life run through everything I write.)

My real problem was Hannah. Finding empathy for a holistic vet was quite a challenge, since we don’t even own a goldfish. I started out with false assumptions about Hannah and found her too calm and too spiritual. I agree with Galen—she’s a hard person to read. But when my son relapsed into crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Hannah suddenly lit up for me. I realized she was just another terrified parent. I also learned that being the mother of a child struggling with mental illness is very different to being the mother of a young man in the same situation. That was something I wanted to explore further and I did, through Hannah’s journey.

For more information on the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, visit

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