The Story Behind the Story

by Amanda Stevens, author of The Visitor

amanda stevensDuring the writing of The Visitor, I returned to Charleston for the first time in many years. A lot had happened since I began The Graveyard Queen series, and I was still trying to find my way back to the story and to writing in general after a devastating loss. It seemed a good time to reacquaint myself with Amelia’s beloved home, and the Holy City did not disappoint. The charm, the history, the lush alleys and mysterious courtyards…all there just as I remembered and imagined.

Two things happened during my time in Charleston that had a significant impact on the story. During a leisurely exploration of the Unitarian Churchyard, a scene sprang to mind that helped to clarify the evolution of Amelia’s dark gift. In the three previous books, rules had been broken, forbidden doors had been opened and now it was time to deal with the consequences. Amelia wasn’t the same person she had been when the series began and neither was I. We couldn’t remain unscathed by recent events and so as I stood in that centuries-old graveyard with the haunting peal of the church bells drifting over the walls, Amelia’s path (and my own) became clearer to me.

The second incident took place on Rutledge Avenue. We had just left the Hominy Grill and were making our way toward Calhoun when I spotted a house that looked exactly the way I pictured Amelia’s home—a white two-story with upper and lower verandas and a front garden encased by a wrought iron fence. We lingered to take pictures and then continued our stroll. Half a block away, a young woman in sneakers and workout clothes walked briskly toward us. She was thin and fit, her hair pulled back in a ponytail revealing a quietly pretty face. As she passed by, she gave us a sweet yet knowing smile. Intrigued, we turned to watch her. When she got to the white, two-story house, she headed up the walkway and disappeared inside.

Amelia Gray had always been real to me, more so than any character I’d ever written. But there was something almost mystical about that sighting. Something preordained. In that fleeting moment, the story seemed meant to be.

About The Visitor:

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m the Graveyard Queen. 

Restoring lost and abandoned cemeteries is my profession, but I’m starting to believe that my true calling is deciphering the riddles of the dead. Legend has it that Kroll Cemetery is a puzzle no one has ever been able to solve. For over half a century, the answer has remained hidden within the strange headstone inscriptions and intricate engravings. Because uncovering the mystery of that tiny, remote graveyard may come at a terrible price.

Years after their mass death, Ezra Kroll’s disciples lie unquiet, their tormented souls trapped within the walls of Kroll Cemetery, waiting to be released by someone strong and clever enough to solve the puzzle. For whatever reason, I’m being summoned to that graveyard by both the living and the dead. Every lead I follow, every clue I unravel brings me closer to an unlikely killer and to a destiny that will threaten my sanity and a future with my love, John Devlin.

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Comments ( 11 )
  1. Darlene
    April 14, 2016 at 11:41 am
    Reply

    I just finished re-reading the entire Graveyard Queen series, including the new book, The Visitor. I needed to reacquaint myself with Amelia and her adventures so that I could thoroughly enjoy the new story. I love the series, I love Amelia and John. Love that it’s creepy but not too much so. I’m excited for this author, because I’m sure publishing this book represents a personal victory in her life. Thanks for sharing Amelia’s story with us!

  2. Aimee Tidwell
    April 14, 2016 at 11:47 am
    Reply

    I love Amanda’s stories. She paints vivid images that entrance the readers. I can’t wait for the next book.

  3. Jennifer Hancock
    April 14, 2016 at 12:22 pm
    Reply

    Amanda’s words weave a spell, bringing to life the worlds of the living and the dead. The reader enters the investigation, and becomes emerged in the anguish and the happiness that Amelia experiences. From the first book, I was craving more, and she hasn’t disappointed. Each book breathes more life and depth into the haunted world of Amelia.

  4. kathy gunderson
    April 14, 2016 at 12:25 pm
    Reply

    So glad you are back and writing. When don gives me MY book I’ll let you know what I think of it. (a glowing report I’m sure.) You never do anything wrong by me, but I will let you know what I think. The other books were amazing and should be on hmmm…television. Yeah, television. Always keep in touch with the unknown. Good luck, and much love.

  5. Blanca Susana
    April 14, 2016 at 1:40 pm
    Reply

    Estoy contenta con la llegada de este libro…pero una pregunta? cuando llega a España ? Me e leído la trilogía …impaciente por la respuesta…un saludo desde Europa

  6. DEBBIE ZIMMERMAN
    April 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm
    Reply

    I have loved all of you books and waited for this one. I get lost in the your words and her story and love every minute of it. Please continue to intrigue with us with Amanda’s journey…and yours.

  7. amanda
    April 14, 2016 at 5:40 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone. And thank you so much for all your support. Means the world to me (and to Amelia 🙂 )

  8. Michelle Morrison
    April 14, 2016 at 7:41 pm
    Reply

    Cool thoughts on the writing process. I will read The Visitor as soon as I can.

  9. Belinda Forgy
    April 14, 2016 at 9:48 pm
    Reply

    Love following you, Amanda. I have only read samples of the series so far, but I feel like I’ve known her for years! Definitely on my summer reading list! Between trips to cemeteries while doing genealogy…

  10. Wendy C
    April 14, 2016 at 9:54 pm
    Reply

    Amanda Stevens’ stories are the reason I can’t sleep at night! 🙂 She’s a great writer with a remarkably unique imagination. One of my favorites!

  11. Lorianna
    April 15, 2016 at 8:28 pm
    Reply

    I never tire of reading this story. It gives me chills and amazes me just like Amanda’s books.

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