Inspiration, The Shadow Wife

The Shadow Wife is a story close to my heart in many ways.

First, the setting. Although I now make North Carolina my home, I lived in California for many years and visit it often. On one visit, I drove along the stunning Seventeen-Mile Drive in Monterey, getting out of my car near the mystical “ghost trees” that cling to the rocky coastline.

From there, I spotted a mansion high on a cliff. In my imagination, I immediately “saw” two little girls on the veranda of the mansion, and I couldn’t get them out of my mind. It was as though the ghost trees were offering me an image from the past. I thought about those two little girls and what it would have been like to grow up on a cliff high above the Pacific. From that little seedling of an idea, the story for The Shadow Wife developed into something complex and intriguing.

Another reason this story is so special to me is that I gave the central character, Joelle D’Angelo, my old job as a clinical social worker in a high risk maternity unit. I loved doing that work myself, being able to touch many lives in a positive way. Aside from her occupation, however, Joelle and I are not very much alike, and I would hate to be confronted with the personal dilemma The Shadow Wife presents for her. But I do admire her. She faces hard choices and makes them with a sort of nobility that I hope I would possess if I found myself in her shoes.

Finally, I wanted to explore healing in this story. I have rheumatoid arthritis and have learned that healing comes in many forms. It’s a loaded subject for me, and I suspect it is for many of you as well. I hope you will draw your own conclusions about what it means to be healed through reading this novel.