Earlier this month, the first novel in my Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, Crime and Poetry, released. I know it must sound strange that I’m writing a “magical” book when I am best known for Amish cozy mysteries under my own name and the pen name Isabella Alan. At first, it seemed odd to me too when I had the idea of a fantastical bookshop near Niagara Falls where the books literally help my sleuth solve the crimes. This is something I never expected to write but secretly always wanted to try because of my love of the work of C.S. Lewis. Since I was a small child, Lewis has been my favorite author, and what Lewis’s work has taught me is that an author can let her imagination dance while staying true to her Christian faith. That’s what I hope to accomplish with my new mystery series.
The “magic” in my new series is not described in the traditional sense. There are no wizards, witches, spells, or paranormal creatures. Instead, the magic comes from the earth itself, playing off the idea of mysticism and intuition. Mysticism has been a characteristic of Christianity since the Early Church. It focuses on transformations through the Holy Spirit that are so dramatic that they change a person’s very essence. In some cases, things deemed “impossible” occur in the form of miracles. This is called experiential faith, meaning faith that is developed by divine experiences. During the Reformation, mysticism fell out of fashion with some branches of the church, but experiential faith has remained an important element of Christianity.
I have always understood the “magic” in this new series of books to have its foundation in Christian mysticism, which I have combined with Native American folklore and my imagination. The mystical waters of the Niagara region infuse themselves into the books at local bookstore to the point where the essence of that water can send cryptic messages to my sleuth. She then interprets and uses them to solve the crime. Using the word “essence” was a conscious choice for me, because while it could be understood as something magical, it could also be understood as something divine. I hope to connect readers across all faiths because of this choice.
After Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he sent the novel to his goddaughter, Lucy Barfield. In its enclosed letter, he lamented that Lucy might have outgrown the story, and writes, “
But someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
Crime and Poetry, like all novels, is make believe and perhaps even a fairy tale in its own right. I would never claim to be the same caliber of author that Mr. Lewis was, but I hope you will enjoy my fairy tale based in very real faith, too. And don’t worry, I will still be writing Amish mysteries as always. The fifth novel in the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series, Murder, Handcrafted, releases in June, and I have an Amish Sweetshop Mystery Series beginning in 2017.
Enter to win a signed copy of Crime & Poetry below!
Amanda Flower, a four-time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth-grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is a librarian in Northeast Ohio. She also writes as USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan.
Her new release is Crime and Poetry.
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