Jaime Jo Wright is the author of six novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap’n Hook; and their littles, Peter Pan and CoCo.
In this interview, she shares some of her thoughts about her latest novel, The Souls of Lost Lake.
FF: Please provide a brief summary of your new novel The Souls of Lost Lake.
The Souls of Lost Lake answers that age-old question of “What would happen if a creepy campfire story really was true?” It is a tale of a long-rumored murderess who roams the Northwoods of Wisconsin and how her quest for truth transforms into legend until her legacy becomes ghostly and threatening. The story of Ava Coons delves into the theme of grief and identity and how, when merged with resolution and acceptance, even the aching gap of loss can be met with a purposeful peace.
FF: How are your two female protagonists, Wren and Ava, similar and how are they different?
Wren and Ava’s lives parallel each other more than they would be able to recognize since decades separate them. They are both unsettled and wrestle with a sense of belonging while trying to traverse the canyons of grief that come with their own heavy baggage. But where Ava is spunky and determined to find answers and resolution, Wren wallows with indecision and even an element of fear at what she may discover. They both have experienced grief in its rawest of forms, and both must come to a realization of how grief can reconcile itself with a peaceful hope. Ava will discover the burgeoning newness of faith, while Wren will take her established faith and learn that while foundations may be ripped away, the steadfastness of her belief can stand firm.
FF: The Souls of Lost Lake is a dual-time mystery that follows two story lines decades apart. What do you think this dual perspective lends to the reader’s experience of the novel?
I believe history always has stories we can revive, dwell on, and learn from. We are not the first in humanity to breathe life, to weep over loss, to cry in agony, and to celebrate in joy. I think reading a dual perspective not only enriches the emphasis of their stories but also helps us as readers see the lasting impact the past has on the present, and even how the present will impact the future.
FF: One of the themes in the book addresses the concept of identity. How do we see Ava and Wren’s struggle with identity throughout the story?
It’s difficult to not know where you came from or to not be able to pinpoint what influenced you to become the person you are today. It is also difficult to understand how to view yourself when outside influences have their own opinions as to who you should be or who you are. Ava and Wren are both trying to come to terms with those concepts. Ava’s memory loss leaves her past a horrifying blank page, and Wren’s established place in her family is threatened as her own origins come into question. Both characters struggle with discovering not only their personal history but also how this affects who they are to become as they move into their futures.
FF: What was the inspiration for The Souls of Lost Lake?
The inspiration came from an actual campfire story my husband heard many times over as he grew up at Bible camp. After hearing him repeat the story to my own children around many campfires, the original story spurred my imagination until soon the story of this new Lost Lake adopted a life of its own, complete with a brand-new and unique campfire telling. Ava Coons came into existence, her cabin and her missing family.
FF: In the book, the legend of Ava Coons becomes an often-told campfire ghost story. As a fan of campfire stories, what elements do you believe are essential to any good spooky tale?
All good campfire stories must come with an imagined personal threat. Who doesn’t want to be scared by a creepy story? It’s far more delicious to believe it may actually come true! There is nothing like listening to unsolved mysteries in front of a fire and then making your way back to your camping spot in fear for your life.
FF: What do you love most about writing spine-tingling mystery novels?
I love the intrigue and the questions. I love how mystery weaves together to form a story that becomes a treasure hunt for answers. The elements of “spine-tingling” make me sit on the edge of my seat and make me long for a resolution that brings answers and also intermingles with hope.
FF: What do you hope readers gain from reading your new novel?
When I write my mysteries with elements of thrill and suspense, I hope readers can really enjoy that element of creepy entertainment without extreme gore, crossing into the actual and questionable realm of the paranormal. I also pray over every story that readers can be introduced to or encouraged in their faith and find hope really does exist when we raise our eyes to the One who created us.
The Souls of Lost Lake
Jaime Jo Wright
Genres: Suspense/Mystery, Historical/Time-Slip
Release Date: April 5, 2022
To save the innocent, they must face an insidious evil. Wren Blythe has long enjoyed living in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, helping her father with ministry at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess who is believed to still roam the forest. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the ruins of the Coonses’ old cabin and a sinister mystery that she is determined to unearth.
In 1930, Ava Coons has spent the last several years carrying the mantle of mystery since the day she emerged from the woods as a thirteen-year-old girl, spattered with blood, dragging a logger’s ax. She has accepted she will never remember what happened to her family, whose bodies were never found, and that the people of Tempter’s Creek will always blame her for their violent deaths. And after a member of the town is murdered, and another goes missing, rumors spread that Ava’s secret is perhaps more malicious than previously imagined.
Two women, separated by time, must confront a wickedness that not only challenges who they are but also threatens their lives, and the lives of those they love.
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