The Story Behind The Story

By January 11, 2016

During the writing of The Visitor, I returned to Charleston for the first time in many years. A lot had happened since I began The Graveyard Queen series and I was still trying to find my way back to the story and to writing in general after a devastating loss. It seemed a good time to reacquaint myself with Amelia’s beloved home, and the Holy City did not disappoint. The charm, the history, the lush alleys and mysterious courtyards…all there just as I remembered and imagined.

Two things happened during my time in Charleston that had significant impact on the story. During a leisurely exploration of the Unitarian Churchyard, a scene sprang to mind that helped to clarify the evolution of Amelia’s dark gift. In the three previous books, rules had been broken, forbidden doors had been opened and now it was time to deal with the consequences. Amelia wasn’t the same person she had been when the series began and neither was I. We couldn’t remain unscathed by recent events and so as I stood in that centuries old graveyard with the haunting peal of the church bells drifting over the walls, Amelia’s path (and my own) became clearer to me.

The second incident took place on Rutledge Avenue. We had just left the Hominy Grill making our way toward Calhoun when I spotted a house that looked exactly the way I pictured Amelia’s home—a white two-story with upper and lower verandas and a front garden encased by a wrought iron fence. We lingered to take pictures and then continued our stroll. Half a block away, a young woman in sneakers and workout clothes walked briskly toward us. She was thin and fit, her hair pulled back in a ponytail revealing a quietly pretty face. As she passed by, she gave us a sweet, yet knowing smile. Intrigued, we turned to watch her. When she got to the white, two-story house, she headed up the walkway and disappeared inside.

Amelia Gray had always been real to me, more so than any character I’d ever written. But there was something almost mystical about that sighting. Something preordained. In that fleeting moment, the story seemed meant to be.

Join the discussion 30 Comments

  • Carla L says:

    Wow! What a really great experience. I am really looking forward to seeing what is in store for Amelia. And to prepare myself I will re-read the previous installments again. I’m glad that you are back and doing the thing you love. BTW, I really like the new website. And that picture is amazing! 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks, Carla! Glad you like the new site! Keep an eye out because I’ll be posting another new cover before too long. 🙂

      • Jimmy Goad says:

        Your new website is great. Great to see a local girl and dear friend do well. Keep it up and enjoy your life and success.

        • Amanda says:

          Thanks, Jimmy! So good to hear from you. From those grandchildren photos I see on Facebook, I would say life is treating you well. 🙂

  • Lynda Jo says:

    Love the new site and that is an amazing story. I’m looking forward to the book!

  • Kay David says:

    I love, love, love the new website. But I’m even more happy to hear the paths—both yours and hers— are clear. I’m enjoying the blogs while I wait for the next book. Keep going back to Charleston to keep it fresh because whatever you’re doing, it’s working great!

  • Roswita Hildebrandt says:

    I’m really looking forward to The Visitor! And your new website it aces! (Sorry, I just rewatched Oceans Thirteen. LOL!)

  • B.J. Daniels says:

    I love your new site. Also the story about the house, the young woman you saw and the inspiration you found again. Can’t wait for the next book.

  • Lynn S says:

    Absolutely love the new website! It’s like being instantly transported to the South.

    I’m so glad Charleston inspired you. Maybe I’m being silly but I wonder if that young woman knew who you are? Either way I can’t wait to read The Visitor.

  • Andrea says:

    I got the Prophet today as my birthday gift. I’m looking forward to reading it tonight! Let’s see if the Visitor and and the Sinner get to Argentina soon! 😉

  • kathy gunderson says:

    Great story. And of course one I can feel. If that makes sense. As always I’m happy for you.

  • Debbie Junkin says:

    Great new site! I can’t wait to read your new book. You look beautiful!

  • Cher Green says:

    I am so looking forward to this book. I just put in my pre-order.

  • Linda Christie says:

    I love your website. I have read so many of your books and enjoyed them all but the Graveyard series has been my favorite. The Visitor is going to be just as amazing as the first three and so will all that follow.

    • Amanda says:

      Thank you, Linda. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my books. The Graveyard Queen series has been so much fun to write. I’m working on the sixth book right now and I learn something new about cemeteries with every story.

  • Maria Rose says:

    I recently discovered ‘The Restorer’, and I love it, read the whole book throughout one day and just ordered the rest of the Graveyard Queen Series! Can’t wait to share these books with my niece!

  • Cathy Ring says:

    Hello Amanda,

    My family is from Charleston, so reading your experiences bring me back in time of when they “Grandma, uncles, etc.” lived there. I use to play in those yards surround by the wrought iron fencing, and walked those streets of Rutledge, the Battery, King Street, etc. I really love getting lost in time when reading your books. Thank you so much and look forward to many many more books to come.

    • Amanda says:

      Thank you, Cathy. What a lovely comment! Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. My friend and I go back every year and it feels like a homecoming. I could so easily live there. 🙂

  • Meredith says:

    I’ve been checking from time to time since years ago when I first read the Graveyard Queen series for another one in the series and FINALLY! I am so excited to read this!

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