Washougal author Shirley Patterson-Wallace learned to expect the unexpected while writing her second novel, which started out as a “bucket-list” project but turned into something much more.
“As I started writing and getting into it, the characters actually did take on a life of their own, and ideas kept coming and coming,” Patterson-Wallace said. “It held onto me until I had absolutely nothing left to give. I said, ‘OK, that’s it. You’re done.’ I finally escaped.”
“Mr. Grayson,” which Patterson-Wallace describes as a “supernatural horror thriller,” was published in the fall of 2020 and is available for purchase in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon.
“I had always wanted to write a horror story,” she said. “I’ve got a few published books, but I’ve never written anything quite like this. I actually started writing it in 2019, but when COVID hit, I really got into it. It was good therapy for me. During COVID, I had a lot of anger and frustration. I think ‘Mr. Grayson’ helped me get a lot of aggression out. It stopped me from dwelling on things.”
The novel takes place in 1934 and tells the story of a British veterinarian named Fletcher Grayson, whose life drastically changes after a seemingly innocent visit to the United States.
“It’s not your typical monster-kills-people book. There’s a lot of history to it,” Patterson-Wallace said. “There’s a heavy story to it, evil versus good, and so forth. In a nutshell, it’s just a good scare. But yet I feel like it’s done with class.”
Every Amazon reviewer has given the book five-star reviews, so far.
“I truly enjoyed the story,” one reviewer wrote. “It is well-written and kept my interest to the very end. Each person and location in the story are well described.”
Patterson-Wallace drew inspiration from her love of “old-school werewolf stories.”
“I used to like the old ones where they had some meat and some story, unlike some of these books they put out nowadays,” she said. “They’re flimsy. They don’t have any strength or character to them. I thought, ‘I’m going to write what I want to (read) and not just something light-hearted like ‘Werewolves from Outer Space’ or some dumb thing like that. (I wanted to write) something that’s got some heaviness to it, that you can sink your mind into.”
Patterson-Wallace wrote diligently, most every day, for months, but took a two-week mental break, during which she expressed some of her ideas in a different way.
“Every time I write a book, I always have something around the property that I either made or bought that represents the story that I’m writing,” she said. “I had my husband get me a big piece of plywood and I painted an 8-foot werewolf on it, so now ‘the beast,’ as I call him, stands in our woods. People drive down there and here’s this 8-foot werewolf against a tree. I’ve had people say, ‘You haven’t taken your Halloween things down.’ I go, ‘No, here’s there all the time.”
Patterson-Wallace’s first novel, “Milla’s Villa,” published in 2004, tells a story about her maternal grandparents — how they met, how they fell in love, how their relationship and eventual pregnancy was viewed by their family members and how they were permanently separated.
“It was a true story. That’s what prompted me (to write in the first place). It was too good of a story, and I didn’t want it to be lost,” Patterson-Wallace said. “I got pumped up from people praising it. (The positive reviews) prompted me to go, ‘You know, I am pretty good.’ But I enjoyed it, and that helped.”
She followed up with what she calls two “whimsical novellas” — “The Bindibun Murders: Mark of the Fu,” published in 2011, and “Forkyped,” published in 2012.
“My mother was British, and I was raised in England a lot, so most of my stories always have a touch of British surrounding them,” she said. “Anytime I write anything, I think I’m going to do something different, but I’m always in England. There’s a lot of history and different things there. It takes over.