Evangeline cannot decide which shocks her more. That she sees a ghostly apparition sharing the stage with the concert pianist. Or that no one in the audience but she sees the woman haunting the stage.
This riveting moment opens “Evangeline’s Miracle,” a mesmerizing novel by Lisa Buie-Collard of Valdosta.
From the stage, this spirit begins visiting Evangeline in her dreams or, more accurately, Evangeline begins visiting the Victorian world of Lady Miracle and her family through a series of vivid dreams. In her waking hours, Evangeline researches Miracle and this family, discovers they actually existed in 1800s England, and that their lives would soon face a tragedy.
Meanwhile, Miracle’s dreams take her to visit Evangeline in the future. As each woman realizes the other’s presence, they begin leaving messages for one another through dreams and across time.
Evangeline enters a long-ago mystery that may touch her life as much as it may rescue the lives of people who lived generations in the past.
The dream as time machine element works well here, but it is Buie-Collard’s characters and, especially, the author’s fine sense of pacing that make “Evangeline’s Miracle” stand out.
In developing the character of Evangeline, Buie-Collard follows closely to the writer’s rule of writing what you know. Evangeline is a writer as is Buie-Collard. Both the character and author are married to men from France. Buie-Collard found the inspiration for this book during a concert similar to the one where Evangeline first discovers Miracle.
Still, Evangeline is a character of fiction, but Buie-Collard hopes readers will find inspiration, as well as suspenseful entertainment, within this novel’s pages.
“I’ve been lucky to be supported by my husband in my efforts to write stories that, I hope, will inspire others, either in following their own dreams, or to touch them in a way that causes them to think outside the box,” Buie-Collard says. “I hope ‘Evangeline’s Miracle’ will create curiosity in others to become more aware of their own roots, of their ancestors and the lessons to be learned from the past.”
The Times conducted an email interview with Buie-Collard. Excerpts:
THE TIMES: What was your inspiration for “Evangeline’s Miracle”?
LISA BUIE-COLLARD: “Attending a piano concert of Vladimir Feltsman’s, a vision came to me, the beginning of the ghost’s side of the story unfolded right then and there. I wrote down what I could on a piece of paper from my purse, in the dark, listening to VF play. The next day I wrote four full pages of what I’d been given. I had no idea at the time where the story would take me. It was Janko that came to me but Miracle and Evangeline who told me the story.”
THE TIMES: The dreaming angle seems a unique way for people to “time travel.” How did you develop this concept?
LISA BUIE-COLLARD: “I dream a lot. I remember my dreams very often. For me dreams are a way of listening to a different part of myself. I don’t have only one type of dream. I have dreams for different reasons, stress related, my subconscious trying to work on a problem, power dreams where I feel I’m trying to tell myself things I need to hear but have a hard time saying to myself in my ‘conscious’ state. Sometimes they are prophetic, sometimes just a replay of events happening in my life, things I’ve seen, etc. I always feel there is a message in there somewhere, important or not. It seemed like a good way for Evie and Miracle to communicate.”
THE TIMES: Granted, the events in this story seem destined for Evangeline, but have you given any thought to making Evangeline the central character in a series of books dealing with historical mysteries?
LISA BUIE-COLLARD: “You are the second or third person to ask me that! I have thought of it only because I have been asked about it. I’m not interested in doing that at this time. But, who knows? Anything is possible, right?”
THE TIMES: How long have you been seriously writing?
LISA BUIE-COLLARD: “I wrote full time for nine years in Texas before we moved back to Georgia. Just this year I started back full time after taking off for four years. I missed it. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I love it because it feeds me and I, most of the time, like the challenge of trying to tell a good story. I hate it because it is hard. I have to be very self-motivated and sometimes that isn’t easy.”
THE TIMES: What other books or projects have been keeping you busy?
LISA BUIE-COLLARD: “I teach French at the Continuing Education Department at Valdosta State University. I am a participant in a small writer’s group in Valdosta. We meet weekly. I have written a total of five novels at this point. I am revising one of these for (hopeful) publication in the spring or early summer of 2012. The ‘working’ title is ‘The Seventh Man.’ It’s also character driven involving an assassin, a writer and a policeman. The only thing it has in common with ‘Evangeline’s Miracle’ is that it’s character driven and set in London, both of which I love.”
THE TIMES: What brought you to South Georgia? Do you have family here? Or wish to mention any family?
LISA BUIE-COLLARD: “We moved to South Georgia originally back in 1982 when my then to-be husband was hired by SAFT, from France. It was his first time in the ‘deep’ South. Four years later we moved to Texas, spent 18 years there, had a son then a daughter, and then moved back to Georgia for my husband to work at SAFT again. Our family is in North Carolina, in and near Asheville, and in France. We have wonderful close friends here in Valdosta and Lake Park, some of whom we’ve known from our first time around in Valdosta. I’m originally from Florida.”
Lisa Buie-Collard's “Evangeline’s Miracle” is available through The Vintage Dragonfly in Downtown Valdosta and other possible locations in the near future. It can also be found online at amazon.com, bn.com, justbookz.com, towerbooks.com, and smashwords.com in soft cover and ebook formats. She will be reading in the Meet The Author Nov. 5, Valdosta-Lowndes County Library, 300 Woodrow Wilson Drive.