We’re delighted to welcome Hester Young to the blog today as she shares a bit about how THE GATES OF EVANGELINE came to be. (Side note: one of my favorite, wildly eccentric friends is named Evangeline–Vange for short–so I can’t look at Hester’s novel without smiling). If you’ve not yet grabbed a copy, now would be a great time since we’ll be discussing this book, along with our other two winter book club selections, until the end of February.
In 2007, I gave up on writing. I’d wanted to be a writer since the age of six, and yet, as I looked at the life that I was building—an all-consuming job teaching high school English, a man I was engaged to marry and hoped to start a family with—it seemed clear that writing no longer fit my world.
I was working eighty hours a week. Motherhood, I knew, would require what little time I had left and then some. In what seemed like a stark choice between art and children, I chose children.
Then something amazing happened. Instead of ending my writing ambitions, the birth of my son refueled them. At home on maternity leave with no papers to grade, I found myself scribbling pages while he slept. The novel that had long been percolating in my mind took on a more vivid form and shape.
Though I returned to work, my heart had drifted from the classroom. I loved watching my students achieve various milestones, but in the end, I wanted to be there watching my son achieve his. Shortly before our son’s first birthday, my husband accepted a job in New Jersey and I became a stay-at-home mom. I was both ecstatic and terrified.
In those early Jersey days, I knew no one. Our family members were all a plane ride or two away, and my husband traveled frequently for work. Managing my active and mischievous toddler proved more challenging than teaching even the surliest teenagers. There were some hard days.
One can react in many ways to isolation and loneliness. Some people turn to God, some people have affairs, some people hit the gym, some people watch too much TV and gain twenty pounds.
I wrote a book.
Every day, my son would take a three-hour nap. And every day, I would write. It was that simple.
I’ve heard people advise, usually in regard to love and marriage, that “when the right one comes along, you’ll just know.” The Gates of Evangeline was my first attempt at writing a novel, but it was The Right One. I just knew. I lost myself in this mystery about a grieving mother who uncovers dark, decades-old secrets at a lavish Louisiana plantation home.
In time, I developed a support system in my new town. I made friends, became a board member of the local MOMS chapter. I completed my book two weeks before the birth of my daughter.
When I found an agent and sold my novel in a three-book deal, life changed dramatically. It felt like I’d run a marathon, just hoping to reach the finish line, and accidentally walked away with prize money. These days, I am a full time writer with a kindergartener and a two-year-old daughter. Our household is hectic, but I’m so glad that choosing children over dream career was ultimately a false choice. Although it took three decades, I’m grateful–and proud–to be here.
From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .
When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children in danger, she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent. They are warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.
After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams, asking for her help, she finds herself entangled in a world-famous thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance with the estate’s landscape architect—the warm and handsome Noah Palmer—begin to heal her grief-stricken heart. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined.
A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, THE GATES OF EVANGELINE is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.