By Lisa Maliga
I’ve finally returned to writing fiction. It’s a great feeling to have completed a novella. There was nothing to bake or melt and pour. In other words, no sweets were made and I only made a few batches of soap for an upcoming book.
The first draft of September Harvest was written in a month. It was the easiest and hardest book I ever wrote. During it, I was doing online retail therapy. I’d watched many videos about malls, dying malls, dead malls and abandoned malls. I watched and listened to the soundtracks of the past. Whether you call it Muzak or elevator music, it was wordless and brought back memories. Yet listening to it made me write better and helped create that long ago and far away era. And as I wrote the Northbrook Mall section, I thought it should live up to its name with an exotic landmark center court area. The Palm Beach Mall was my inspiration. Although photographed circa 1968, I imagined being in that mall back then. People dressed more formally than they do nowadays. Salesmen and managers wore suits and ties. Customers and retail employees had a more stringent dress code than that of 2021.
Being able to use the photograph wasn’t an option as it wasn’t in the public domain, and I’d already decided to change the “wonderfall” fountain to a standard cascading type of fountain. But the bridge over the pond surrounded by tropical foliage was an element that had to be in the Northbrook Mall. It was the landmark centerpiece and most noted feature.
Finding a cover artist to recreate the mall wasn’t an easy task. The first person I found via a search had the promise that all emails were answered in 24 hours. To date, my email has been ignored. I contacted another cover artist, but my suggestion wasn’t deemed possible. I kept looking and found a talented artist who had several images of buildings and people in her portfolio. I had quickly learned that some artists specialized in drawing animals, others in portraits, and some in drawing fantasy landscapes. Would I like a watercolor, oil painting or colored pencil rendition?
I wrote out detailed instructions and even included an excerpt from my novella which described the fountain area. I asked that the ladies on the bridge be changed to the main characters in the novella. A few days later, I received the image and here it is…
What is September Harvest About?
Laurie Caswell loves her life… but a nightmare leaves her terrified of the future…
It’s 1979 and Laurie’s living a great life as a bookstore clerk at the Northbrook Mall. She’s excited to go out with her boyfriend to see a movie, have a drink, and spend a happy evening together. When he leaves, she’s rocked to her core by a nightmare.
A nightmare of a future where her mall is dead, overweight, black-clad people cover their faces like common criminals.
People seem more focused on their light-up book-like devices than her, but the year 2021 holds darker, more sinister dangers. Dangers she desperately wants to wake up from and escape. Laurie just wants her normal life back… but whatever she’s experiencing might not be willing to let her go so easily.
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