Today, I welcome Sarah Ballance, author of Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. Sarah wrote her first novel a couple of years ago just to prove she could do it. DOWN IN FLAMES was published in 2010, spurring the initial “told ya so” into a fledging career for the stay-at-home mom of six kids, all homeschooled. She’ll be quick to tell you she writes to visit a world where people actually listen to her, but her characters didn’t get the memo—on a good day, they give her about as much trouble as the real kids do. Married for nearly 14 years, her incredibly supportive husband spends his not-at-work hours bonding with the kids so Sarah can write. He’s also a selfless volunteer when it comes to researching “the good parts.”
Encounters with the Unexplained
I must like being scared, because it takes very little to leave me quaking. But it’s not the vampires or werewolves or other cultural phenomena that gets to me … it’s the events I truly can’t explain.
My earliest memory of the unexplained takes me back to my grandparents’ old barn. There, from the attic, drifted the steady clack-clack tempo of a typewriter keypad—the sort resonating from an old-fashioned manual machine. As a child, the noise terrified me. It avoided rhyme or reason. It defied typecasting, appearing instead in whatever random fashion it chose. I seldom ventured into the barn on anything less than a sunny day, but when us kids bundled enough nerve into a dare, we’d creep in there at night and wait. The Noise never demanded we wait long.
My adult mind looks for reason behind the mysterious noise in my grandparents’ barn, but with maturity came the knowledge that, before they bought the place, a woman was murdered on the property in a cruel, gruesome matter. This revelation left me no desire to venture into the attic, nor does the fact that neither of my sensible, level-minded grandparents would step foot in there—their property, to this day, abandoned upstairs to the tempo of keystrokes. As for me, I try to chalk the unsettled memory up to animals, but the steady, unfailing pattern is one only the most talented of rodents could muster.
If the unexplained experiences stopped in my childhood, I might be tempted to write them off. But there are two things I’ve witnessed I simply cannot explain away, and both happened right in my own home, both within the last couple of years.
One afternoon, my kitchen table was in a rare state of clean. It’s an oak table. The surface is level, as is the floor beneath it. The kids put toys on it all the time, and I’ll even set down the occasional egg without it careening across the top. So needless to say, when my untouched water glass walked itself several inches across the surface in a single smooth motion, I did more than a double take. To be fair, condensation can cause a mini-phenomenon, but the distance was more like six or eight inches than it was millimeters. Two of my kids witnessed this, and I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the wide-eyed looks we traded.
The other incident happened as I gathered laundry in the bathroom. With the door and window closed and no air blowing from the vents (believe me, I checked), the entire roll of toilet paper unrolled itself into a heap on the floor. I can assume it finished due to momentum, but as to what got it started, I’m clueless—I know I hadn’t touched it in a while. I was home alone with an infant, my back to the roll when it started unwinding.
All I do know is after a long, dumbfounded look, I backed from the room, grateful for the daylight and really wishing we had another bathroom.
When it comes to believing in the unknown, having that feeling resonating in your gut adds a whole new level to a good story, one that makes it great. I’m working that uneasiness into a story, but it’s in line behind a few deadlines. Still, I can’t wait to see how those long-held emotions resent themselves into the plot.
In a world full of the unexplained—of witchcraft and debauchery, of myths and legends galore—that, perhaps, will be the greatest spell of them all.
Man, I’m getting shivers, Sarah!
Sarah’s latest, a Romantic Suspense titled Run To You, is a real intense read. Here’s the blurb and the drool-worthy cover:
Mattie James can’t pinpoint exactly when she lost control of her life, but the moment she decided to take it back made the front page of the local paper. Desperate to dodge the fallout— and the tabloids—she jumps at the chance to spend an off-season week in a tiny resort community by the sea. Making the trip with her ex-lover is a complication she can live with; coming face to face with a dead woman is not.
The last thing Sheriff Wyatt Reed expected to find on the storm-ravaged beach was a beautiful blonde with a jealous sidekick, but one look at Mattie left him wanting more. Their first date takes an ominous turn when he gets the call that a woman was found murdered. With a killer on the loose and a troubling lack of suspects or motive, Wyatt has to put his feelings aside to focus on the case. But his vow not to become personally involved is shattered when he discovers Mattie’s life is on the line, and this time the truth leaves her with a deadly choice . . . and nowhere to run.
I have this on my Reader, and it’s moved way up on the TBR list, I’ll tell you that!
To continue on the Noble Author’s Blog Tour, head over to see what I’m up to on Sarah’s blog by clicking the button: