By Yvonne Lehmann
Ann Tatlock is a novelist and children’s book author. Her newest novel, Once Beyond A Time, was published in December 2014 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Her books have received numerous awards, including the Christy Award, the Midwest Book Award and the Silver Angel Award for Excellence in Media. She also serves as managing editor of Heritage Beacon, the historical fiction imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She lives with her family in Western North Carolina. Please visit her website at www.anntatlock.com.
Once Beyond A Time
A Non-Paranormal Paranormal Story
I want to tell you up front that I don’t believe in ghosts. The idea of disembodied souls haunting shadowy places—rattling chains, slamming doors, walking through walls--just doesn’t fit with my world view. People aren’t meant to remain earth-bound. We either end up in the presence of God or separated from Him eternally. That’s what the Bible says and that’s what I accept as true.
And yet my new novel, Once Beyond A Time, was rejected at several houses for being a ghost story. Too paranormal, they said. As a Christian publisher we don’t want to promote anything having to do with the paranormal.
But it isn’t paranormal, I argued. Not a single character in the book is dead.
No matter; they didn’t want it. Years passed, and I finally found a house happy to publish it. Oddly, this particular publisher wanted to promote it as paranormal.
But it isn’t paranormal, I argued once again. The premise has nothing to do with ghosts.
That may be, the publisher argued back, but what happens in your book isn’t normal—what, with people talking to people who live in different times—so that makes it paranormal.
We decided we have different definitions of paranormal. Which, I guess--to make us both happy--means my newest offering is a non-paranormal paranormal book.
What the book actually deals with is time. Or more accurately, God’s timelessness: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8 KJV).
Unlike humans who occupy a single point in time, God stretches from start to finish, he is and was and is to come, and therefore he is the Eternal Now. He created time for our use, but he remains outside of it and is unhindered by it. So, I wondered, what if one was able to “step out of time” and experience what God experiences? That’s the premise of my story.
It's 1968, and Sheldon and Meg Crane have just moved their family from suburban Philadelphia to the town of Black Mountain, NC. Sheldon has resigned in disgrace from the ministry after an affair. He will now sell used cars for his brother-in-law's auto dealership. Sheldon is burdened by his wife's unwillingness to forgive and his daughter's anger over the move. The oldest son is in Vietnam. The only happy member of the family is his eight-year-old son, Digger.
After settling into their new home--an old house nearly hidden on the side of a mountain—the family soon discover it’s no ordinary place. And this is where it gets to be “not normal.” The family can see and speak with people who have lived there in the past, and with those who will live there in the future. They are trying to make sense out of this odd phenomenon when the unspeakable happens: Digger disappears. They don’t know whether he has been kidnapped or whether he has wandered off into the mountains and gotten lost.
As the family deals with brokenness, heartache and—yes—the paranormal experience of “stepping out of time,” they discover the house is a gift, one that teaches them about the healing power of forgiveness and the loving sovereignty of God.
No ghosts. No rattling chains or slamming doors. Just a chance to take an imaginary journey beyond time. Sometimes the “not normal” can offer a fresh perspective on grace. I hope it will for you.
It’s 1968, and Sheldon and Meg Crane have just moved their family from Pennsylvania to the small town of Black Mountain, NC. Sheldon, recently ousted from the ministry due to an illicit affair, takes a job as a used car salesman at his brother-in-law s auto dealership. Burdened by his wife’s unforgiveness and his daughter’s resentment over the move to “Barney Fife country”, Sheldon finds a measure of solace in his eight-year-old son’s ability to cope. After settling into an old house high on the side of a mountain, the family discovers their new home is no ordinary place. Family members occasionally see and speak with the home’s previous residents ⎯ and the ones who will live there in the future. While attempting to come to terms with this portal in the past and future, their son, Digger, suddenly disappears. Was he kidnapped or did Digger wander off into the mountains and become lost? The answer lies in a place once beyond a time ⎯ in a realm where the mysterious power of forgiveness removes sorrow and heals even the most egregious sins.
Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC