Psychic medium Epiphany Mayall lives and works in the spiritualist community of Watoolahatchee, Florida. When she schedules a trip to her childhood home in Ohio to visit her aging mother, Epiphany has no idea she will soon be swept into a maelstrom of natural disasters, theft, and murder.
Dr. John Bernhardt, Epiphany’s former art history professor and mentor, believes regional fracking operations are responsible for the recent earthquakes. After identifying a secretive petroleum company as the perpetrator, he wonders if the environmental disasters are somehow connected with the disappearance of a drawing from a local museum. Twenty-four hours after he writes an article about his theory, he is found dead of an apparent heart attack.
When John’s ghost appears to tell Epiphany he was murdered, she becomes determined to find his killer. Aided by a former FBI art-crimes investigator and an eccentric artist, Epiphany must use her psychic skills to locate the missing art and identify the killer. Unfortunately her efforts to bring the guilty parties to justice are thwarted. Even a state senator cannot help. As the earthquakes escalate, Epiphany must decide whether to continue her battle for justice or suspend her investigation to protect her family.
Set against a backdrop of psychic phenomena, corporate corruption, and global climate change, Epiphany’s Gift illustrates the perennial battle between good and evil.
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Epiphany’s Gift follows one young girl through her life as she struggles to cope with an extraordinary gift. What was the inspiration for her gift and the struggles she faced?
As a child, I had several powerful “visions” and/or paranormal experiences. Because the experiences were so exciting and so unusual, I was surprised to find that when I talked about these experiences, adults didn’t want to hear about it. They told me it was my imagination. Or worse. So, I stopped talking to anyone and kept my experiences to myself. Later, I began to read about other people who had unusual “visions.” I began to study the writings of religious mystics and found many similarities to my own encounters with “another level of existence.” In 1979, I met a psychic medium and we became friends. Although my “mystical” experiences were not the same as her “impressions,” we found we had a lot in common and have remained friends ever since.
I really enjoyed the well developed character in the book. Was there anything taken from your own life and put into the story?
Along with my childhood experiences, I included a number of “autobiographical” elements in the story. One is my work as an art historian and my fascination with artists such as William Blake and his visionary illustrations, especially the works he did of Dante’s Inferno. I also incorporated my interest in Asian art and culture in the character of Maro Guido, an art crimes investigator who is half Japanese. I wanted to explore his views about art from a non-Western perspective. And, I set Epiphany’s Gift in southern Ohio where I lived for four years while attending Ohio University. I was fascinated with Appalachian culture and wanted to immerse myself in the area and its special landscape.
This book blends several genres exceptionally well. Was this your intention or did this happen organically while writing?
When I first started writing Epiphany’s Gift, I intended to create a series of stories that combined paranormal events with art crimes. I wanted my readers to understand the problem of art theft and the significance of taking cultural treasures out of the public arena and into private collections where they are only seen by a few individuals. I believe that art has a lot to teach us about how our civilization developed and why we are who we are. So, I think that art belongs in a larger world that is open to the public.
But I also wanted to explore the issue of climate change and environmental degradation. I was encouraged by Dan Bloom, a climate activist and editor of the Cli-Fi Report, to explore various aspects of global warming and its consequences in my writing. In Epiphany’s Gift I take on the issue of fracking and its consequences. In subsequent books, I plan to focus on a number of climate-related issues including the spread of tropical diseases, effects on water resources, and catastrophic weather events.
So, my stories will be about paranormal events, art crimes and global climate change. Something for everyone!
When will this book be available and where can readers pick up a copy?
I’ve just sent the manuscript off to the publisher, so I expect the book will be available in May or June 2019. It will be available on Amazon, through Archway Publishing, and on my website: www.mallorymoconnor.com. Hopefully, it will later be available at libraries and bookstores. Connect with me through my website and I’d be happy to answer questions.
For thirty years, Epiphany Mayall has worked as a psychic medium in the small Spiritualist community of Cassadaga, Florida. But when she returns to her childhood home in Mt. Eden, Ohio, to visit her aging mother, she finds that the rural community is reeling from a series of alarming events. The pristine world of her childhood is being destroyed. Wells and creeks are polluted, and earthquakes have become a frequent danger.
Epiphany’s former professor and mentor, art historian Dr. John Bernhardt, believes that the problems are the result of fracking operations that are being carried out by an energy corporation in the region, and that someone from the company is also connected with the disappearance of an illustration of Dante’s Inferno from the university museum. Bernhardt writes an article for the local newspaper about his theory, but the next day he is found dead. When John’s ghost appears to Epiphany and tells her that he was poisoned, she becomes determined to find the answers to several questions: who is responsible for the environmental disaster, who stole the illustration of Dante’s Inferno from the university museum, and who murdered Professor Bernhardt?
Aided by art crimes investigator, Maro Gaido, and by Blake King, an eccentric local artist, Epiphany tries to put together the pieces of a disturbing puzzle, but finds her efforts thwarted at every turn. Even a State Senator cannot help. As the earthquakes escalate, Epiphany begins to wonder if even her psychic gifts are enough to find the answers before it’s too late to save her loved ones from disaster.
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Epiphany has a gift she doesn’t necessarily want, tries to hide, and can’t return. When you think about it, is that even a gift? When a young Epiphany reveals her gift to her parents, her father isn’t so supportive and urges her to keep it hidden. What could be beneficial to everyone around her and, ultimately, save lives winds up being a thorn in her side for most of her young life. As an adult with a son and granddaughter of her own, Epiphany becomes much less reluctant and refuses to hide the truth any longer. She knows now what she didn’t know as a child, the visions she experiences are much more than a gift.
Epiphany’s Gift, by Mallory O’Connor, takes readers on a journey of the mind as Epiphany learns to rein in her exceptional gift of visions. Epiphany is a well-drawn character with many facets to her life. She is a doting grandmother and loving mother who, like all mothers, questions her own decisions and how they impact her family. She is likable and gives readers someone to root for from the first vivid descriptions of her visions.
O’Connor masters the art of the eerie character with the Old Man. It isn’t often that a book gives me chills, but I have to admit that the initial encounter between Epiphany and the Old Man provides one of those moments. O’Connor simultaneously succeeds in giving readers an aha moment while showing the main character to be a strong one from a very early age. In addition, the incorporation of the Old Man into Epiphany’s adult dilemma is nothing short of brilliant.
Epiphany’s visions and feelings come and go in the most unique way. Reading about her premonitions is equivalent to watching them on-screen. Without giving away too much, I can say that O’Connor makes each of Epiphany’s “encounters” amazingly clear to readers. As the book plays out as a mystery, Epiphany uses these encounters to lead her to a resolution–truly unique and engaging.
One of my favorite aspects of O’Connor’s work is the writing style itself. O’Connor’s writing is clean, concise, and descriptive without being overly flowery. Her character descriptions are wonderfully memorable. Susan, Epiphany’s mother, is one of the standouts for me. She is a spry and lively woman in her 90s–I can see her in my mind’s eye now.
Readers who enjoy mysteries but appreciate a blend of nonfiction will find O’Connor’s work appealing. O’Connor proves herself to be powerful as a writer of suspense. There exists a certain amount of the old detective novels within Epiphany’s Gift, and I can see any fan of that genre becoming enamored with Epiphany and her amazing gift.
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