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The coronavirus pandemic inspired a Grant City woman to take a leap of faith – to write her first novel.
Today, that novel – The Flame Manipulator by Kandi Hughes – is available at Jamie’s Coffee Mill and Deli and at Country Blossoms in Mount Ayr.
Hughes, the bookkeeper/board secretary for the Grant City, MO school district for 20 years, never set out to be a writer.
“Back [last] March, the students in our schools were sent home due to Coronavirus-19,” she said. “With my duties as the bookkeeper, I continued to work, but the hallways were quiet without my school family. During this time, I decided to see if I could write a story for the entertainment of my family, friends and co-workers. My ambition was to write a quick, easy read, suspense book… My hope was to create something positive.”
The whole time, Hughes’ father served as a source of inspiration.
“With our Easter visit canceled and not being able to visit with him by phone due to his hearing loss, I knew this would be a way for us to connect, and he would enjoy reading my story,” she said. Hughes dedicated her book to her father on Father’s Day.
With unreliable Internet access at her rural home, Hughes was forced to write her novel with pen and paper. However, Grant City superintendent Dr. Matthew Martz graciously offered Hughes to use her school computer at nights and during weekends to type her manuscript.
Once word got out that Hughes was writing a book, several of her friends and coworkers stepped up to offer a helping hand.
“When I mentioned to my friend Barbara Freeman that I had written a book, she offered to read the rough draft for me,” Hughes said. “Kelley Ross, a high school teacher, happened to be in the building this summer, and when I told her what I had done, she offered to edit the book for me. Then April Healy, the business teacher, offered to create a book cover for me. And lastly, Emiley Maudlin, our technology specialist, generously helped me with some technology issues. In the end it seemed like my personal project was meant to be.”
The plot of The Flame Manipulator is a suspense thriller centering on the search for a missing police detective by his college-aged sister and the detective’s partner. To complicate matters is a maniac with a fondness for explosives.
“If any attention is derived by this book,” said Hughes, “I’d like to honor our public schools. I think our teachers are doing a great job in educating our students in this difficult time.”
The Flame Manipulator is the first book in a three-part series, with the second installment – The Flame Impersonator – to be released soon. Hughes is currently finishing the finale of the series – The Flame Annihilator.
Readers may connect with the author on Facebook at Kandi Hughes Author of Fiction Literature or at her webpage KandiHughesAuthor.com.