Concord novelist finds inspiration at the beach

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider, West Knox

When Stephanie Edwards was a teenager, someone told her that she was meant to write a book, but she hadn’t lived long enough yet.

Last year, the long-time Concord resident finally published her book, “The Haunting on Palm Court,” a paranormal suspense novel set in Isle of Palms, S.C. It was a finalist in the suspense category of the San Francisco chapter of the Romance Writers of America 2019 Heart to Heart contest before she had finished the final chapters, and hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s Southern Fiction New Releases in August.

While penning a novel was a new venture, Stephanie has been writing most of her life. She grew up in Blount County and had a school column in the Maryville Daily Times at age 13. After graduating from UT with a degree in journalism, she began writing for the weekly Knoxville Journal and eventually became managing editor.

Her current job in the banking industry allows her to devote time to writing – she’s freelanced for the Farragutpress and the Knoxville News Sentinel – as well as volunteering, another passion of hers.

A beach trip to the Charleston area with her husband was the inspiration for “The Haunting on Palm Court.” Stephanie was enchanted by the southern seaside setting, and especially enjoyed sitting on a screened-in porch in the evenings and letting her imagination run wild.

“It was so beautiful and charming and spooky. It spoke to me,” she says.

The fictional house where the story is set was influenced by the Edwards’ rented beach house. Fortunately, the abusive relationship portrayed in the book was not based on personal experience. Instead, Stephanie based the abuser on stories she’s heard while volunteering.

She admits that she’s not a planner and didn’t know where the plot would take her when she started writing. The first draft of the book took just five months, but after revisions based on feedback from friends and other writers, she’d invested a year and a half in the novel.

After researching different options for publishing, she decided on a hybrid of self-publishing and utilizing an author services company.

“Traditional publishing can take years, and I wanted to share my story.”

She was inspired by one of the book’s characters to create a companion coloring book, “Pearls of Wisdom.” It features an older character, Nancy, who is fond of Southern sayings and fixing problems with food.

“I like to color. It’s very therapeutic, especially if I’m stuck with writer’s block, so it’s been great for me,” Stephanie says.

COVID-19 thwarted her plans for a book tour, but the free time has allowed her to start on a sequel, and she’s already halfway done with the draft. The pandemic has also given people more time to read, she says.

“I want to help transport people to a different place. People want that. If I can give somebody a break from thinking about the problems of the world, I’ve accomplished something great.”

The novel is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, Apple and Kobo. The coloring book can be preordered on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. For more info, see Stephanie’s website:

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.

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