FIVE QUESTIONS ... with Colleen Story
Updated: Jul 31, 2022
Welcome to FIVE QUESTIONS. In this feature on my blog, you'll learn about new and exciting books from the author's themselves. You'll hear about the book, their characters, the inspiration behind the book, and other insider details. All through five simple questions.
What is your new book about?
THE BEACHED ONES is a heartfelt supernatural story about the bond between two brothers who grow up in difficult circumstances. With an empathetic approach, it explores subjects like child abuse, suicide, and loss, and how love can get us through even the most traumatic experiences.
The back cover copy:
HE CAME BACK, DETERMINED TO KEEP HIS PROMISE.
Daniel and his younger brother grew up in an abusive home. Daniel escaped. Now an established stunt rider, he intends to go back to rescue his brother. But then one jump goes horribly wrong . . .
He recovers to find himself in Iowa, unscathed, yet his life has drastically changed. His best friend won’t answer his calls. Even his girlfriend is hiding something. Increasingly terrified, he clings to the one thing he knows: He must pick up his brother in San Francisco. In five days.
From the isolating fields of Iowa to the crowded streets of San Francisco, Daniel must fight his way through a fog of disjointed memories and supernatural encounters to face the truth and pay a debt he didn’t know he owed.
Of all the characters, which one do you relate to the most, and why?
I relate most to my main character in this story, Daniel Shepard, because I too have younger brothers. I helped raise them while I was growing up and felt very protective of them. I can understand the lengths to which Daniel goes to make sure that Tony is safe. Of course, I can also understand how Tony sometimes irritates his older brother!
What was the inspiration behind the book?
The idea for this book came to me after watching the movie, “Sarah’s Key,” which was based on the book of the same title by Tatiana de Rosnay.
The movie had a profound effect on me. Without giving too much away, the main character is haunted by the death of her little brother, for which she blames herself. At the end of the movie (spoiler alert), unable to shake her guilt, she commits suicide. Close curtain.
That movie haunted me for months. It seemed so unfair, what happened to the main character. And I kept feeling like her story was left unfinished. What happened after the suicide? THE BEACHED ONES gave me a chance to explore that general question, although of course, within an entirely different story.
What's the most interesting or unusual thing you learned while researching for this book?
I was lucky enough to be able to travel to research this book—I took the same journey the characters take from Harlan, Iowa, to San Francisco, California. I had researched and written the book beforehand, but taking the trip myself helped me improve the story in countless ways.
First, actually seeing, smelling, and hearing the locations encouraged more realistic and sensory setting descriptions. Taking the journey by car also helped me to feel in my bones the effects of the long road trip, and sharpened my sense of the time it would take.
Finally, I met some amazing people that influenced the story. One, in particular, had a big impact.
On the last day of my trip as the sun was about to set, I went to see one of the key locations in the story once more. I stopped to get some pictures and just happened to run into a security officer. He was patrolling, as was usual in this location, and wanted to let me know that the “gates” would soon close. I took advantage of the meeting to ask him some questions.
I soon realized that the muse had just introduced me to a very special person. I ended up talking to him for a good twenty minutes or more, and during that short spell, got nothing short of gold for my story. Pure gold.
This man had experienced exactly what happens in my climactic scene. He told me details I never could have imagined—details that were critical to the story.
It was surreal, as I hadn’t planned the meeting. But it was as if the universe had given it to me so I could write the best ending possible for the story.
I was so wrapped up in the moment that I neglected to get the gentlemen’s name. I feel horrible as I would have liked to have thanked him in the acknowledgments. I’ve related this story at the end of the book, instead, in the hopes THE BEACHED ONES finds its way to him one day.
What do you hope the reader takes away from your book?
First of all, I hope readers enjoy THE BEACHED ONES for pure entertainment. It has a bit of mystery and a bit of thriller in it, with intense pacing that acclerates as it goes.
But it would also be cool if readers came away from THE BEACHED ONES with compassion for those who are at the end of their ropes, and more so, with the understanding of the theme—that we help ourselves by helping others.
I'll never forget an experience I had a short time after my father died. I was feeling pretty down, understandably, and absorbed in my pain. I had to conduct a business meeting that day with a professional in the printing industry whom I had known for years. He was as congenial as always during our meeting and revealed only afterward that he had also lost someone special only a few days before.
My eyes were opened. I realized that at any one time, the people around us may be struggling just as much or more than we are. Being able to offer a shoulder that day helped lift my spirits. In my life it has never failed—when I can leave a smile on someone else’s face, improve someone’s day, or even just offer a listening ear, my load gets a little bit lighter.
You can purchase THE BEACHED ONES at the following retailers.