D. L. Koontz was born in Pennsylvania, but with her husband, now splits her time between their home in mountainous West Virginia and their cattle ranch in coastal plains Georgia. She has a son and a stepdaughter. A member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors), she is a former journalist, business consultant, spokesperson, and college instructor. After several non-fiction books, Crossing into the Mystic is her first novel.
Three years after losing her family in a car crash, Grace MacKenna is set to inherit her stepfather's ancestral estate among the mountains of West Virginia. Seeking solace and healing, Grace discovers the ghost of William Kavanaugh, a dashing Civil War captain in Virginia s 17th Infantry, haunts the property. When William charms Grace into investigating the mystery that led to his death a hundred and fifty years ago, she finds herself drawn into a world of chivalry and honor, but also deception with secrets too dark to speak aloud.
Meanwhile, Clay Baxter, home from service in Afghanistan, fights his own demons and ghosts. When Clay senses Grace falling deeper into the realm of the dead, he seeks to pull her back. But is he too late?
Torn between her love for two mysterious young men - one living and one dead - Grace stands in the shadows of the Antietam Battlefield with a choice: one that could leave Grace lost forever, "crossing into the Mystic."
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Hi Pembroke! First, if that is your real name, I L-O-V-E it! I love unique names. I researched/found/used Braxton, Asa, Fergus and Jubal in my novel. Aren’t they great names?
Second, we have something in common. I see you worked for an agricultural publication for a while. I started my professional life as a journalist and did gigs for several ag pubs – Lancaster Farmer, Pennsylvania Farmer, and Successful Farmer, but that seems like a lifetime ago. Anyway, I know what you mean about a great training ground. It teaches you tight non-fiction writing.
Many things came together. Here are some of them:
· When I began writing, I lived smack-dab in the middle of Civil War country (Maryland-Virginia-West Virginia). I loved to hike and bike the battlefields, and it’s hard to do that without feeling something.
· A cousin of mine, Jim—one of the sanest, kindest, most level-headed people I’ve ever known—experienced a “ghost” on a battlefield. Prior to that, he’d have been the first to deny the existence of paranormal; afterward, he was quite rattled....
· During a conversation with a pastor, I came to realize that what people may believe are ghosts, may actually be demons in disguise. I found that quite intriguing.
· At a sporting competition for my son, I met a very impressive attorney and began talking with her. Turns out, she claimed her home was haunted. Here she was, this sane, articulate, well-educated attorney, telling me that she and her family lived with a ghost.
· I learned that my house was situated in a part of the Shenandoah Valley where soldiers on both sides of the Civil War were believed to have traveled repeatedly (and fought) over the course of four years. I jokingly said that I think their spirits were coming up through the vents in my house. I began to wonder: What would I do if I ever DID see a ghost? My imagination just took it from there.
Q) How long did it take you to write?
Too long! About a year and a half. This was my first effort at finishing a novel. I’ve started about five of them over the years, but this time I was determined to see it through. And it got easier and easier to stick with my pledge, the further into the story I got. The characters came alive! They went everywhere with me – on walks, car commutes, to bed at night, into the shower. You should have heard them arguing for more page time in the car. When the book was done, I missed them. I was very glad I’d plan and plotted out a trilogy so that they could travel with me again.
Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Having written! Seriously. That feeling of accomplishment when I’m done. “Having written” is much better than actual writing. Second best thing then is writing through a block that has stifled me for weeks. When I write myself into a corner, or when my characters take me in a different direction (yes, they do that), I walk a lot (a LOT) to think it through. When I finally resolve the dilemma and sit down to write, there is not greater feeling.
Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
Rewrites. Definitely. But, that’s where the story is actually borne. This little ditty explains my approach to writing: Story goes that someone asked Michelangelo how he created his famous statue, the Pietà. He responded: “Simple. I just chipped away everything that wasn’t the Pietà.” Well, that was easy for him. All he had to do was schlep on over the quarry, haul back a slab of marble and start chipping away. We writers don’t have the marble to begin with. We have to create it. That’s called first draft. And when you’re done with first draft you feel like you should be able to write “the end,” and drop it in the mail to the publisher. But, that’s not the case. After draft one, is when the “real” work begins – the rewrites.
Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Ken Burns. I love research and pulling pieces together. His documentaries are incredible. I am so impressed with what he does. If not him, then any country western songwriter. I love music and I am so impressed with the stories they tell in a three-minute timeframe, and with how the tune-word combination can completely change my mood.
Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
Frozen sweet corn. At least 2 ½ years old. My mother picked, cut and froze it in her special way. From the time I was a little girl, I would hear people rave about my mother’s sweet corn. I’d watch her make it, even helped her, but I never could capture whatever it is she did to it. She died two years ago. This is the last pack I have left, and I just don’t have the heart to eat it because then it will be gone forever.
Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
Crossing into the Mystic is the first in a trilogy. Book II is with the editor now, and I’m working on Book III. After that, I have a book I already started that I can’t wait to return to. It’s about miracles and how they happen around us but we’re so startled or jaded, we don’t even acknowledge them. In this particular story, one miracle occurs, but it impacts so many lives, that practically an entire town changes, yet everyone seems to shrug it off.