"I thoroughly enjoyed reading Past Presence. It's been a while since I've been this into a book. [...] Audrey's character growth was really well done. [...] I highly recommend this novel to people who enjoy paranormal mysteries with a hint of smutty romance." Kaitlin, Goodreads
Published: April 1st, 2019
Only by looking into the past can Audrey save her future.
Audrey Eames is happy living the wanderer’s life. After a near-death experience in her teens, Audrey can see people’s past lives whenever her skin touches theirs, and afraid of being labeled delusional, she’s never stayed in one place too long or made any deep connections.
So when Audrey’s estranged aunt dies and leaves her the historic Soberly Inn and Public House on the scenic Oregon coast, Audrey wants nothing to do with it. She’s determined to sell the inn and leave town before someone discovers the power she’s been hiding from the world, but clauses in her aunt’s will seem to block her at every turn.
Yet once ensconced in Soberly’s small town life, the people—particularly the inn's bartender, Kellen Greene—start to grow on her, and she begins to feel that maybe she’s finally found a place of her own. As accepting as the townspeople seem, Audrey fears their reactions—and Kellen’s rejection—and decides to keep her visions a secret. But all is not well in Soberly. Soon after Audrey arrives, people in town start dying in the same manner as in their past lives—but in this lifetime it’s murder. When suspicion starts to fall on Audrey and Kellen, Audrey vows to use her gift to find the murderer and protect the people she loves—before it’s too late.
How to Craft a Supernatural Ability
In my book, PAST PRESENCE, the main character, Audrey Eames, has the ability to see short visions of people’s past lives when she makes skin-to-skin contact with someone. There’s a lot of freedom in writing a character with such a talent; because no such ability exists in real life, I can make up pretty much anything I want with respect to how that can work. However, in order for the ability to be believable to readers, writers need to establish a set of rules that they follow strictly. The worst thing a fantasy writer can do is lose the reader’s trust by being inconsistent or even contradictory. That’s why, before I wrote a word of PAST PRESENCE, I opened a fresh doc and made a list of the rules that Audrey’s visions would be subject to. I referred back to the list often as I was writing and shared it with my editor so she would be familiar with them too.
Some of the rules were:
- Audrey never sees the same vision twice.
- People don’t carry any more than six previous lifetimes with them.
- She has no control over which past life, time period or event she sees.
- Audrey sees a vision every single time she makes skin-to-skin contact.
The last point became a bit of a sticking point between me and my editor during the developmental edit. There were a few points in the book where Audrey touches someone but I didn’t describe a vision, because I thought the interruption would negatively affect the scene. She insisted I either add a vision or change the scene so the characters didn’t touch, because it was imperative to follow the rules. She was right, and I made the changes.
Writers who want one of their characters to have some sort of extrasensory or supernatural ability would be well served to take some time to establish the rules surrounding it. It will save them time as they’re writing and keep readers from throwing their book across the room in frustration because it keeps contradicting itself (the exception to this would be if the character was learning to use or refine her abilities, in which case growth and change is perfectly reasonable). The worst possible mistake a writer can make is have their supernatural character suddenly be able to do something they couldn’t before in order to move the plot forward.
There’s no limit to what sorts of abilities writers can give their characters, and by creating and following a set of rules around them, it will be easy for readers to understand and believe in them from the first page.
About the Author
Nicole Bross is an author from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two children and one very large orange cat. When she’s not writing or working as the editor of a magazine, she can be found curled up with a book, messing around with her ever-expanding collection of manual typewriters or in the departures lounge of the airport at the beginning of another adventure. Past Presence is her debut novel.
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