Brandy Heineman is our guest this week, sharing what inspired her to write Whispers in the Branches. On our writing loop, the conversation this week is about titles, and I love this title! Here’s a little bit about the book:
Tending a void in her heart that demands to be filled, Abby Wells uproots her life in Ohio to move into the ancestral home in Georgia. Now that her mom is gone, it’s her best chance to connect with the last of her family, and she can’t deny the pull of the supposedly haunted house. The seductive comfort of believing that ghosts could be real drives her search, but Aunt Ruby’s plans for Abby don’t include revealing secrets kept for seventy years. Oh, there’s dirty laundry she’d like to air—just not her own.
Indulging in the attentions of the house’s handsome caretaker helps numb her pain, but Abby’s ex-boyfriend won’t let go of the past. He hounds her about his new found religion in hopes of reconciling, but why reach for him or the God who couldn’t or wouldn’t spare her mom? In the stillness of the old house, the spirit world feels so close she can almost touch it.
But she doesn’t know yet that there’s more than one way to be haunted.
Oh, Brandy, I have chills. Please share with us what inspired the house that’s such a main part of this story?
While writing Whispers in the Branches, I decided I needed a spooky old house as a model for my story. Not a photo, but a real place I could wonder at in all its decrepit glory. I lived in a such a place when I was eight—a 150 year-old house in Watkins Glen, New York. I imagined parts of its weird layout into my narrative, but the exterior was too hazy—probably because we weren’t allowed to play out front, since the house sat too close to the road.
I now live in an Atlanta suburb where spooky old houses are in short supply, but eventually, I found THE one. From the ramshackle porch to the overgrown kudzu, it was the sort of place that a person inclined to believe in ghosts could easily imagine was haunted. Since my story follows characters looking for truth in the wrong places, it was the perfect inspirational setting. I’d take any excuse to drive past it, craning my neck to soak in the details. I thought it was vacant, so imagine my surprise one night on my way home when I noticed the lights on inside. I had no problem dreaming up a ghost for the place, but was shocked that someone actually lived there.
The kicker came after my book released, when my inspiration house went up for sale. Friends encouraged me to call for a showing, but I didn’t think it was right to take the listing agent’s time to satisfy my curiosity. That didn’t stop me from perusing every single one of the thirty-eight pictures they posted online, however. I like my version of the interior better, although if I had large piles of money to get rid of, I can’t say I wouldn’t consider it . . .
Brandy Heineman writes dual timeline novels from a Christian world view. Her passion for genealogy occasional inspires hare-brained schemes like a five-county research trip in a rented Mustang, but she usually sticks to sharing vignettes and research tidbits on her blog. Her debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, was a 2014 ACFW Genesis finalist and released the following year from Elk Lake Publishing. She currently serves as the Vice President of the ACFW North Georgia chapter, and she is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.
Brandy is giving away an e-copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.
Thanks for visiting us, Brandy! It’s been great to have you!