Monday, May 9, 2011

Secret #9: Small Town Mysteries

Every fiction novel is a self-contained illusion.  The story holds only as long as the illusion remains intact.  With each crack that appears in the story's mirror, our ability to suspend our disbelief also fractures.  Knowing that you could scour London, muggle or not, and never find Diagon Alley reminds us that Harry Potter is simply a fantasy.  Unable to find Castle Rock, Maine, featured in many of Stephen King's novels, insulates us from the horrors that take place there.

As The Awakening unfolds, one of the characters uncovers a clue to the mystery before him in an online post.  Pulling up the user's profile, he finds their email address listed as part of their contact information.

While many of us use online email (Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail), others use the address given to them by their Internet Service Provider (ISP).  We rarely think about using an email like but what if your email address was  Would you give it a second thought?

Maybe you should.

If you took just the last portion of that email address ( and pulled up the corresponding Web site, you'd discover that SpireTech is an ISP with a very limited service area.  All of their customers live in Portland, Oregon.  That means that if you get an email from, then the person who sent that email lives in Portland as no one has a SpireTech email address outside of that area.

Using this concept, the character in The Awakening traces the email they find back to a small town in Pennsylvania.

And while that town is created solely from my imagination, I took an extra step to keep the illusion alive.

Every email address in The Awakening is a real working email address.  If you send an email to it, you will get a response from the corresponding character.  Should you decide to follow the same clues that led to the local ISP in a small town in Pennsylvania, you'll find that the ISP's site actually exists.

But there's more.

As the local Internet hub, the site (which you'll have to read The Awakening to discover for yourself) acts as the voice of the small town.  There are news stories and forums with additional material that either supports the novel, tells stories associated with The Awakening, or foreshadows the next book in the series, A Tide of Shadows.  Users of the site have been given distinct personalities and back stories.  Through photographs, local news articles, and the characters' comments to those articles, The Awakening jumps beyond the pages of the novel and comes alive in the online world where so many of us spend a part of each day.

News photo from the ISP's site
In the Age of the Internet, much of our reality is found online.  While I'm an author, I pride myself on being a storyteller.  The best stories are those that, even though you know they're not real, have an element that makes you question that position.  There's a long tradition of campfire ghost stories being set in the area that encompasses your unrolled sleeping bag.  In extending the tale found in The Awakening into the online world, my hope is to create the same feeling - one where you begin to question if the story was simply fiction because the pieces of the novel are found in the world around you, waiting for you to reach out and touch them.

The Awakening (May 13, 2011) sets the stage for A Tide of Shadows (May 2012), which in turn builds to the climax found in Days of the Fallen (May 2013).  You can read the first three chapters online for free.  The Awakening will be published on Friday the 13th in both paperback and ebook formats.

Secret One: Aleph (May 1st)
Secret Two: The End (May 2nd)
Secret Three: Angels (May 3rd)
Secret Four: The Bloodline (May 4th)
Secret Five: Heaven and Hell (May 5th)
Secret Six: What Does God Look Like? (May 6th)
Secret Seven:  Working Miracles (May 7th)
Secret Eight: The Four Horsemen (May 8th)
Secret Nine: Small Town Mysteries (May 9th)
Secret Ten: Photographing the Paranormal (May 10th)
Secret Eleven: Blood on the Threshold (May 11th)
Secret Twelve: Find the Thread (May 12th)
Secret Thirteen: How Does the World End? (May 13th)


  1. Awesome!!! I'm SO excited to check out this website! :D Fantastic idea to continue the story well past the book.

  2. Every new secret has me more and more excited to drop myself into this world of yours again. =)

  3. Very cool idea Jeffrey I can't wait to see how it plays out!

  4. Thanks everyone! Sorry I've been absent from the comments - I'm polishing up the site and making sure it's "just right" before it goes live later tonight in preparation for the publication of The Awakening tomorrow. :)