1188 Words
Introduction I’ve long had a fascination with the idea of strange things happening that no one else knows about. I don’t mean secretive, logic-defying twist of conspiracy theories, though I understand how a certain type of person can sink into that particular rabbit hole. I’m talking about that little voice inside that wonders if the folklore, mythology, legends, and even fairy tales we grew up with might have had a grain of truth. Or a whole lot more of a solid basis in reality. Maybe a reality we’ve forgotten, or simply turned away from. I’m quite sure part of my interest in such things began with a life-long love of The Twilight Zone and other TV shows, movies, and stories like it. Many of my favorite episodes played right into that idea that of course there are weird things going on around us. All the time. It’s just that most people don’t seem to notice. Maybe because they’re not paying attention, or they’re too “square” or literal-minded to understand what’s hiding in plain sight right in front of them. Maybe because they do catch those glimpses and hints and clues. But they work very hard to avoid thinking about what they’ve seen, heard, or felt. That way they don’t have to admit that the world might be a much stranger place than they’d prefer to believe. Or maybe it’s a version of the same impulse that sends people down the endless road of conspiracy theories in the first place. What if only a very few, select, and special people have the ability to see the bizarre nature of the world around us? And they truly are the only ones who know? Wouldn’t it be cool to be one of those rare individuals who have the chance to understand the truth, while everyone else goes about their lives in blissful ignorance? Sure, that might be cool. Possibly interesting, and even exciting. But I suspect the “gift” of being one of those people would actually come with a pretty heavy cost. Being the only one would also carry the potential of other people thinking you’re more than a little bit nuts. And the even greater risk of being alone with that knowledge eventually eroding your mental state, until those other people are proven right after all. That idea of the fantastic turning out to be reality has played a big part of a lot of my fiction, as it does for many other fantasy writers. The stories in Investigations Beyond Belief aren’t only fantasies, even though those elements certainly help shape the stories. While I was spinning the yarns for this collection, I was also playing with two of my other favorite storytelling tropes: private investigators, and my native Appalachian Mountains. When it comes to writing and reading mystery and crime fiction, I’m often drawn to amateur sleuths. These are folks who feel like they wander into the world that doesn’t make sense. Not quite like The Twilight Zone, with the emphasis on speculative elements. Amateur sleuths get caught up in crimes of some kind. Sometimes firmly set in the real world, like in Shadows Mountain Deep, the anthology my husband Jason A. Adams and I recently published. The characters only feel like they’ve wandered into an alternate reality. Of course you’ll often find amateur sleuths in fantasy or science fiction as well. But a private investigator is another sort of person—and character. The PI is a professional. This is what they do for a living. They’re not generally wandering unsuspecting into a crime, though of course that certainly can happen in their line of work. Private investigators are sought out and hired, and often licensed and trained in a surprising variety of technology, techniques, and methodologies. That brings me to Deb Powers, the main character in all the stories from Investigations Beyond Belief. Deb has years of experience as a PI, working in the big city of Atlanta. And those years caught up in the rush and busyness of both the city and her line of work have taken their toll. Deb is ready to move on, from both her work and Atlanta. She finds herself returning to her family’s home in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, the setting for so many of my fantasy, crime, and romance stories. One of the many things that made writing Deb so much fun for me was drawing from my own life. Like Deb, I grew up mostly in the Midwest, with frequent family visits to Virginia. And like Deb, after several years living in Atlanta, life in the fast lane of city life sent me home to the mountains for a slower pace and a major change of scenery. Part of that decision—moving to where your family is from after years away—is realizing how quickly you lose your anonymity. The ability to simply exist. To succeed or make mistakes in your life without worry about what your family might think. To live your life without wondering what sort of trouble your family might get you into next. Deb quickly encounters a first cousin who happens to be the local sheriff. And who also happens to think Deb and the whole community would be much better off with a talented, experienced private investigator among them, still doing the work she’s so good at. To say this cousin brings her most unusual cases to Deb would be an understatement. For me to say more here about those cases would spoil way too much of the fun. Since another of my favorite genres to read and write is romance, Deb finds herself face-to-face with someone else she frequently spent time with during those childhood visits. Let me just say the old spark and heat between them hasn’t entirely died out. She also finds people she can depend on when it comes to figuring out the huge change in her life. And when it comes to digging into the crimes that seem to defy all the usual crime-solving methods, not to mention the typical understanding of reality. That’s one of the wonderful things about living where we do, with the rich folklore and deep love of tall tales and all sorts of storytelling. Quite a few rituals and routines and beliefs about everyday life have an undercurrent of magic and mystery built right in. So you might say once Deb showed up in my head, she made herself at home right away, and in the best way. I expect these five stories will only be the beginning of our adventures together. I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. Check out all kinds of mysterious tales at You’ll find plenty of stories in almost every genre set in and around my native Appalachian Mountains by paying a visit to You can also visit to learn more about me and find other short stories, along with novellas, novels, and more collections. Swing by to keep up with what I’m doing next, get free stories, read exclusive content not available anywhere else, and see adorable pet photos. Hope to see you there! And last but certainly not least, thank you for your support of me and my writing. It means the world to me and keeps me coming back to tell the next tale.
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