Dream comes true for local author

Lord Fairfax Community College English professor Jenni VanCuren speaks about her recently published novel, "When Shadows Fade," during a recent gathering at the college. Rich Cooley/Daily

MIDDLETOWN – A local Lord Fairfax Community College adjunct English professor made a childhood dream come true when she published her first mystery thriller novel.

Jenni VanCuren’s first novel, “When Shadows Fade,” follows Maddie and Mike as their lives crumble into mayhem when they get sucked into a world of crime and must work their way out.

“It’s a very interconnected story with lots of webs of characters, lots of plot twists,” VanCuren said.

She noted that she didn’t know how the story would end when she first began writing and had to figure that out along the way.

“I sat down with a general idea of one of the characters,” she said. “I had no idea the other character was ever going to exist.”

She said she would sit down and begin writing and when she was out of ideas, she would let it sit overnight and finish the scene the next day.

“It was like magic. It just happened,” she said.

She wrote the story in the 2 1/2 months before the fall semester started and then sat on it for about two years before reviewing and editing her story with the help of two others. She said it was after the editing that she decided to try to have the novel published and began researching how to make that happen.

VanCuren sent her novel to RoseDog Books, which approved it and began the work of publishing. VanCuren had to approve a cover design and write a brief biography about herself and the book for the back cover. After that, she said it was ready for publication.

The novel was published last month and is available in hard-copy and as an e-book at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

She said she kept the chapters short and ends with cliffhangers to keep the reader engaged and wanting to read more.

The hardest part, she said, was figuring out how her characters were going to get out of sticky situations, and make it seem plausible for this kind of genre.

VanCuren offers closure by the end of the book, but she said she left room for a sequel if she chooses to continue on with the characters’ story lines.

Writing a novel was her childhood dream that she said she finally made a reality.

“I would be 5, 6, 7 years old and finish my schoolwork, finish my homework and then I would come up with assignments to write just because I loved to write,” she said. “It never was enough.”

When she was about 8 years old she said she decided she would write a book when she was older so she could check her own book out of the library. She said she has her novel on reserve at a local library so she will be the first to check it out when it arrives.

She recommended that anyone thinking about writing a book of their own start right away.

“Just start because if you keep dreaming about it, it will stay a dream,” she said. “You have to move forward with it and when you think that you can’t do it, just keep going. It will happen.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com.