Laurel woman’s novel published posthumously

05/19/2013 5:00 PM |

RICHARD EHLERS COURTESY PHOTO | Alix Ehlers’ first novel, ‘A Power in the Blood,’ is now available on amazon.com, 13 years after the Laurel resident’s death. The book was e-published after her sister, a published author, discovered a draft of it.

Suspense, intrigue, a dreadful decision that turns a small town upside down; a first novel by local author Alix Ehlers, “A Power in the Blood,” has all the makings of a best seller, but it almost never saw the light of day.

Now, thanks to her family, the book is finally available on Amazon — 13 years after the Laurel resident’s death.

Ms. Ehlers’ sister, mystery author Betsy Thornton, began shopping the novel around after coming across a draft in 2002, two years after her sister passed away from ovarian cancer.

“My agent loved it but, as sad as it is, she told me when an author is dead it’s hard to sell a book,” Ms. Thornton said. “But I thought it was amazing and I wanted people to be able to enjoy it.”

Ms. Thornton is an accomplished author in her own right. She has published seven novels, including “A Song for You,” which was nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award in 2008.

Having recently added her own books to the Amazon Kindle library, Ms. Thornton turned to the Internet to make her sister’s work available to the public.

“We always like to think she is looking down on us knowing we got her book done,” Ms. Thornton said. “This is my memorial to my sister.”

Ms. Thornton e-published the manuscript in April. E-publishing allows authors to bypass traditional publishers and instead deal directly with Amazon. Digital self-publishing has become increasingly popular, as the number of readers who prefer tapping their tablets to flipping pages grows. According to Amazon, 27 of the current top 100 Kindle books are self-published.

Publishing “A Power in the Blood” was a family effort. Ms. Ehlers’ daughter, Betsy Ehlers Comiskey, wrote the foreword and her nephew, Alex Chapin, designed the novel’s cover.

“It’s exciting, the change in the world’s technology,” said Ms. Ehlers’ husband, Richard, a Riverhead judge. “In 2000 you couldn’t e-publish a book. I think my wife would be very happy with all the love and care her sister and her daughter put into it to see it finally done.”

North Fork readers will feel a special connection with the book, Mr. Ehlers said. “I think the characters will remind people of people here,” he said.

Set on Peconic Bay, the book chronicles the lives of the well-to-do Ford family and Charlene Lutz, whose fight for her daughter’s love leads her to make a terrible decision, a choice that threatens to destroy the Ford family.

“I can see reality in [my mom’s] novel,“ Ms. Comiskey said. “I recognize places, scenes and bits of people from my childhood and her past. I read it a few years after my mom died. [Her] writing brought me back to Long Island; I saw the old A&P. I climbed the sandy steps of the yacht club. I met friends’ parents. I saw the farm fields, the library.”

While this is Ms. Ehlers’ only novel, she had been an accomplished magazine and newspaper journalist. She studied English at Ohio Wesleyan and literature at Eastern Michigan before earning a degree at Florida State University College of Law. Even after launching a successful career at a law firm in Riverhead, Ms. Ehlers never stopped writing. She wrote for True Confessions magazine and was a contributing editor and book reviewer for Turf and Sport Digest. She also wrote a gardening column for Times/Review Newsgroup.

“A Power in the Blood” is available for download on amazon.com.

cmurray@timesreview.com

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