Meet the Winners of Inkitt’s Midsummer Mystery Writing Contest!

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Congratulations to Shawn McLain, 3rd place winner of Inkitt’s Midsummer Mystery Writing Contest!

We’re pleased to catch up with Shawn today and chat about his winning entry, his upcoming projects, and more.

Welcome Shawn. Can you tell us a little about your winning story, The Grey Girl?

Sure! Here’s a quick summary. Chloe died, and that was when her real torment began. It was 1932 when Chloe Miller went missing. Her body was never recovered, her murderer was never identified. Although her ghost is trapped in Sterben House, she is not alone. People have come to live in Sterben House despite Chloe’s whispered warnings. They have fled in terror of the evil that dwells there. But Chloe must remain. Now, Alex and his family are living in Sterben House. He wants to uncover the story of her tragic death. Can Chloe hope to be freed? Or will Alex, by trying to investigate, stir the demon of Sterben House, and suffer a worse fate?

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write?

I write what I enjoy. I write about zombies, the supernatural, about wizards and witches, darkness and light.

I have been writing short stories since middle school. The stories tend to be horror but have branched out into mystery and some fantasy. My love of zombies comes from watching Romero’s zombies and seeing the fear they could create by being us – but much less and much more.

Most of my professional writing so far can be heard in promotional material for a Statewide Television network. I have been in Broadcasting for nearly 30 years. In that time, I have been exposed to the worst and best of humanity. Corruption, betrayal, murder, and theft contrasted by the acts of pure heroism, compassion, and generosity. My experience has helped to shape my writing.

When did you first start writing?

I wrote stories when I was young, elementary school, I think.  I wrote for myself mostly.  I had a few writing assignments throughout high school that I enjoyed but I didn’t really share any of them. Then, I started writing weird little tales about my friends. They always ended up in a bad situation in the end. I have a friend I have killed in stories at least ten times! He always found it great fun to read. At work, I would think up little stories and send them to co-workers. Then, I would write some things for on-air promotions and I would get compliments. People would say, “You should be a writer.” I just thanked them, until one day I though I should try it. I wrote a zombie survival book which took a couple of years to get published. When it did, I had people asking for a sequel. Before that sequel progressed too far, The Grey Girl decided she wanted to have her tale told first.

Where did the idea for this particular story come from?

This story started out as a dream, or just the hint of one. It centered around a necklace a man found in a house he had just moved into. He eventually discovered it belonged to a murdered woman. Through various adventures, trying to learn about the woman and her death, the man ends up falling in love with her. The story had stayed roughly the same in my mind since the early nineties. Then one day I started to put it down in words, and the full story revealed itself.

Did you have the ending in mind when you began, or did it surprise you?

I thought I knew this story until I started writing it! The main character had a story to tell, and she took me through it. The ending caught me by surprise, but it was a welcome one. Although when I thought I was done, she had other ideas, so I now have three in the series with a fourth trying to find its path.

Do you write in other genres besides mystery and thriller?   If so, which?

I write horror mostly.  All of my books contain supernatural elements but zombies and ghosts are what I write about most. I am working on a fantasy story but we’ll have to see where that one takes me.

How did you feel when you learned you were one of the contest winners?

I was thrilled when I got the news. I knew my story was getting some attention but I never anticipated it was enough to win. I felt very lucky so many readers liked my story and I am extremely grateful to everyone who read, commented, reviewed or just plain enjoyed the story. 

What are you working on now, or planning for your next project?

I have a follow up to my zombie novel, Respect the Dead. The story is about three quarters done, I think. But, the last time I thought it was finished, it went on for another hundred and fifty pages, so we’ll see! The Grey Girl already has two sequels, The Van Tassel Murders and the Saint Mary’s Horror, with a fourth book in that series in progress. I also want to do something in the fantasy realm.   

Thank you so much, Shawn, and congratulations again!

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About Author

Tabitha Lord is the award-winning author of the HORIZON series. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, four kids, two spoiled cats, and lovable black lab.

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