Moneta author pens ‘cozy mystery, Southern gothic’ novel
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By Tom Wilmoth
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm
Years ago when Susan Coryell lived in Northern Virginia, she started writing a novel about a haunted Revolutionary War era estate nearby.
Author Susan Coryell of Moneta.
But then she moved to Smith Mountain Lake. Her address changed, but her desire to write didn’t. Coryell decided to continue working on her novel, "A Red, Red Rose," but move the setting to a lake. "I did the bulk of my research (for the book) at the Bedford Museum," she said. "It was just fascinating doing the research." Later this fall, on Oct. 23, Coryell is scheduled to talk about her book and the history she researched at the Bedford Central Library. Coryell calls her novel "a cozy mystery" as well as a Southern gothic novel. That means it is high on mystery and low on gore. She said the characters are ones "the reader might encounter in daily life anywhere and they are set in small, picturesque towns or villages." And the Southern gothic allows for a number of the region’s cultural issues to be explored. That’s certainly true of "A Red, Red Rose," which includes cultural clashes between Northern and Southern values, city and country living, wealth and attitudes about the Civil War, family ties and bloodlines, revenge and retribution as well as history and nature. "Characters have their flaws," she notes. The protagonist in the novel is 20-year-old Ashby Overton from New Jersey, who visits her aunt and uncle at their historic estate in Southern Virginia. She hopes to unearth her ancestral roots and the cause of a mysterious rift surrounding the horseback riding death of her grandmother many years ago. From the moment she enters her room in the oldest wing of Overhome, Ashby feels an invisible, enfolding presence. This was Rosabelle’s room, but no one is willing to talk about Rosabelle. As summer unfolds, so does the shroud of silence surrounding Overhome. Ever present is a force Ashby never sees, only feels. Thus the entrance of the paranormal: candles light themselves, notes from an old lullaby fall from the ceiling, the radio tunes itself each day. And roses, always meant for Ashby appear in the unlikeliest places. Notes Coryell: "Full of heartbreak and adventure, fear and passion, the summer leads Ashby on a suspenseful sometimes terrifying journey as she navigates centuries of family strife alongside the puzzling parameters of the spirit world. Ultimately she discovers that some secrets, even the most fiercely guarded, are destined to be revealed." Coryell has been working on her book for more than a decade. She said it appeals to a wide audience because of its