Thousands of books line the shelves of bookstores and libraries. They each share information or a story. But each one also has a story behind the story—why the author chose to write it, and how it moved from an idea to a manuscript to a published book. Castle Gate Press’ first book, a time travel mystery entitled The Day She Died, is no different, and I’m proud to have played a part in bringing this fun, unique mystery to print.
The path for The Day She Died actually started before the author, Bill Garrison, started writing it. In 2009, he attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference with the goal of finding an agent or publisher for another book. Through God’s grace, he was able to schedule an extra agent appointment–the last of the day–and pitched his other book to Terry Burns.
A few months later, Terry contacted Bill and offered to represent him. While Terry worked hard pitching this book to publishers, Bill started writing The Day She Died, and he joined a critique group Terry set up for his clients.
I was on a parallel path. Terry had offered me a contract on my first novel only weeks before Bill met him at the ACFW conference. I also had another story started and jumped at the opportunity Terry offered to participate in a critique group.
Although the group lasted only about six months, the connection had been made. Later that year, Bill and I met at the 2010 ACFW Conference, where he pitched The Day She Died to publishers. Another attendee (I think it was Fay Lamb) snapped this picture of Bill and me at Terry’s table for breakfast.
At this point, the concept of Castle Gate Press was just a fuzzy vision in my mind, and Phyllis and I hadn’t even met yet. Shortly after that, God brought us together, first in a critique group through the ACFW, then through the local ACFW group in St. Louis. Over time, we realized we shared the same vision and began to discuss the possibility of creating a publishing house, but eventually agreed that the timing wasn’t right.
By the time we began to feel the call to start Castle Gate Press, Bill’s life had gotten super busy, rejection letters piled up, his writing stopped, and he parted ways with Terry Burns. But I hadn’t forgotten about The Day She Died. After we announced at the 2013 Realm Makers Conference that we planned to start a new, small Christian publishing house, I realized this story fit our niche of Christian fiction with a twist of the fantastic perfectly, so I sent him a message and asked about it.
The way things came together without either one of us realizing that God’s hand was at work reminded me of Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” As Bill said in a post on his website about how he got a publishing contract, “WOW!”
An amazing journey for a fantastic book, and we’re so excited to be able to publish it. To whet your appetite for some good reading, here’s a little bit about it:
A twenty-year-old unsolved crime. A lost love. A second chance. What if John Michaels had it all to do over again? What if he hadn’t gone out of town the day his college fiancé disappeared? When he inexplicably wakes up twenty years earlier and finds himself a student at OU in Norman again on the day she died, he stumbles over people connected to Kim’s disappearance and puzzles over clues he missed the first time around. Can he find the answers about Kim or prevent her death? And if he succeeds in changing history, what happens to his beloved wife and kids?