Published July 9th, 2013
Calvin isn't a teenager, not really; instead, he's spent his life trying to protect his mother and sister from his alcoholic father. Calvin keeps a knife close and sleeps with one eye open, even years after his father has left the family. A summer vacation spent at their late grandfather's estate promises him and his sister the chance to leave their problems behind. Instead of blissful freedom, they find the old house harbors secrets at every turn, like a mysterious stone door in the forest with rumored powers to give its entrants the gift of future-seeing. When Calvin faces the return of his seemingly-reformed father, he throws himself through the door to receive the gift of foresight. But the door offers more doubt than certainty, and the future he sees is riddled with disturbing confusion. With a revenge-obsessed lawyer hunting him down and a secret society out to control him, Calvin must figure out how to stop what he's started before he loses what he holds most dear. As he battles the legacies of his past and the shadows of his future, Calvin must accept help from unlikely sources, give trust he never thought possible, and learn that the greatest challenges lie not in the things to come, but in the present moment.
Secrets: The Hidden Things We Privately Want to be Discovered
Forecast is a story full of secrets.
Secret family troubles, secret phone lines, a secret society, a secret friendship. One thing I find especially funny about secrets is that we humans have a deep need to tangible record the exact things we wish to stay hidden. For example, we spill our inmost thoughts and fears into a journal, which, technically speaking, could be read by someone else. If we really wanted no one to ever
have a chance of sneaking a peek at those thoughts, we’d either never record them in the first place, or perhaps we’d write them down and then burn them.
But we don’t.
Neither do the characters in my novel. Calvin’s grandfather, Percy, left behind a mysterious legacy involving a psychic business that had made him famous with strangers but grieved by his close friends and relatives. He wrote a cryptic letter that warned all future generations away from his bad choices, yet did not destroy the pathways to his actions. He could have sold his manor, instead of leaving it accessible to his descendents. He could have burned the manor down, just like we could have all burned our journals for safekeeping.
Yet he didn’t. And yet we don’t.
When Calvin and Cleo, Percy’s grandchildren, enter the manor on their summer vacation, everything is just as Percy left it. Sure, there are locked doors and a housekeeper who is reticent to give information pertaining to Percy’s past, but the secrets lurk just below the surface.
Why do we keep secrets in such a way that others will find them? Could it be an attempt at immortality? That even if something happens to us, some scrap of our life will endure in our written word or in our photographs or in our audio recording? Is there a self-sabotaging part of us that wants to be found out, or is it fear that prevents us from destroying the incriminating evidence? Are we afraid, that when we destroy it, we lose something of ourselves?
Percy claims that he was too weak to destroy the powerful things that addicted and enslaved him to his wondrous and terrible life. In his cautionary letter, he begs the reader to finish what he’d failed to do and thus destroy what he could not. The trouble is, when Calvin tries to do this, he exposes himself to exactly the same dangers as his grandfather, and rather than ending it all, the cycle threatens to repeat itself.
How do you keep your secrets? Does a little small part of yourself hope they are discovered one day?
About the author:
Elise Stephens received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Forecast is her second novel. Her first novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-finalist for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Her short fiction has appeared in the Unusual Stories anthology, as well as in multiple journals. She lives in Seattle with her husband where they both enjoy swing dancing, eating tiramisu, and taking in local live theater.