Iona Morrison finds the seed for her next book in the previous story
The author was on vacation in Tombstone, Arizona, when she started to flesh out “Searching for Closure” with a time-travel scene
The Colorado Sun2:10 AM MDT on Apr 2, 2023
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Iona Morrison is an award-winning, Amazon best-selling author who writes romantic suspense with a touch of the paranormal, including the Blue Cove Mysteries series. She is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Published Authors League and lives in Colorado with her husband and family.
SunLit: Tell us this book’s backstory. What inspired you to write it? Where did the story/theme originate?
Iona Morrison: This book is a part of a series.
The Blue Cove Series began for me on my first day of a new job when the custodian told me, “You know we have a church ghost here.” She went on to tell me a true story about how their associate pastor’s husband murdered her, and then killed himself outside the church. The secretary was the one that found their bodies by a tree.
With that piece of information, I was off and writing, with a cast of characters in an imaginary New England town. And the book I always wanted to write started to grow in me until “The Harvest Club” was born with 11 books to follow. I like to think of myself as proof that it’s never too late to change course and find a new avenue for your ambitions.
“Searching For Closure” is book 9 in the series. The main character, Peyton, is a cousin to Jessie Reynolds in my other books. She is on vacation in Arizona and staying at a beautiful resort when the body of a young man is discovered in the swimming pool. While Detective Kincaid is interviewing her, Peyton sees the young man’s ghost watching her. She soon finds herself involved in the murder investigation and is ushered into a strange new world in the process.
Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.
Like most authors, I never know where or when inspiration will strike. I’ve learned to take the notions when they come and be prepared to write them down. I’m always on the lookout for another idea.
One of those special moments of insight for this book came as I walked through the small tourist town of Tombstone on vacation, I could see my character doing the same. A scene began to take shape as I strolled the wooden boardwalk. Her footsteps sounded on the wood planks of the walkway along with mine as she is carried back in time to see the town as I saw it in my mind: a happening place of long ago filled with music and raucous laughter flowing from the saloon.
Suddenly, a stagecoach comes racing into town followed by several rowdy cowboys on horseback welcoming the woman passenger on the stage. Hooting and hollering, they discharge their guns indiscriminately into the air until a real shot brings Peyton back to reality. That scene worked its way into this book with a few changes.
SunLit: Place this excerpt in context. How does it fit into the book as a whole? Why did you select it?
Morrison: The excerpt places Peyton in Tombstone where for a moment in time she is caught up in a vision that takes place long ago but before she has time to adjust to what she is seeing she finds herself back in modern times and dealing with what she saw. This story is all about Peyton coming to terms with seeing the invisible world and, like her cousin, having the gift of sight.
“Searching for Closure”
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Peyton is thrust into her new world when she sees her first ghost and murder victim. She will see many more new and strange things to help solve that murder. A jaunt back in time, visions, and premonitions are part of the process.
I chose this excerpt because it plays a key role in the story. Peyton visits Tombstone as a tourist and will also find herself a target for murder while there. Personally, I liked the scene. It is one of my favorites. I feel like I lived it with her.
SunLit: Tell us about creating this book. What influences and/or experiences informed the project before you actually sat down to write?
Morrison: This book was formed in the one before it. Each book gives me a key word or a way forward to the next one. For example, with this story Peyton told her cousin in the previous book of a crazy trip her friend had arranged for them to Arizona — in the summer no less.
Arizona became the setting for the story, but I had no idea when I wrote that scene how the story would develop into Peyton’s Arizona adventure when her friend was a no-show. A hot Arizona summer was the perfect backdrop for a heinous corporate crime, murder, and a budding new romance.
SunLit: Once you began writing, did the story take you in any unexpected directions? If so, how would you describe dealing with a narrative that seems to have a mind of its own?
Morrison: My writing is often filled with surprises. I’ve had a bad character who turned out to do something good while one of my main characters got shot. I didn’t see either of those coming. I try to let my characters lead me and they take me on quite a ride every time.
I’m not a plotter and therefore I’m often astonished by where my imagination takes me. I like to believe my characters let me know what is and isn’t working for them. And they’re usually right. I’ve stayed awake many nights listening to them tell me about a better way forward. Once I get the scene the way that suits their personalities the narrative moves forward.
SunLit: What were the biggest challenges you faced, or surprises you encountered in completing this book?
Morrison: It’s always a challenge to keep writing and rewriting lines until the story is finished. One day I feel like I can write anything and the next I’m frustrated with everything that I write. By the time a book is finally published I’ve read it so many times I can’t read it again for a while.
However, there is a reason I author the stories that I do. In my own strange way, I answer the question through my characters what would happen if we were aware of what really transpired in the world we rarely see and could hear the unheard cries for help around us. In the process I touch upon subjects that are important to me in a hopefully entertaining way. Topics like organ trafficking, human trafficking, and domestic violence to name a few.
In the excerpt, Peyton asks the question: Is death the end or can those unjustly treated in this life find justice? For her, justice for those who have no voice is important. I’m always surprised how all the pieces in a story tie together in the end even with all the twists and turns. Each time I read a final galley, I’m amazed that I authored the book and even more in awe that people will read it.
SunLit: Has the book raised questions or provoked strong opinions among your readers? How did you address them?
Morrison: People talk to me about what they liked in the story.
One of the best parts of being an author is meeting the readers and talking with them. I’m a talker and love spending time with people. I enjoy answering questions or simply spend time thanking someone for their support.