Arts & entertainment

Changing neighborhoods inspire local author’s debut novel

‘Secrets from the Past’ is a ghost story with romance, history

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A common concern among many in the Denver area is the loss of historic buildings and homes — structures that serve as a tangible testament to the Mile-High City’s long and varied history.

Longtime West Washington Park resident Pat Shipley, and the lead character of her debut novel, Cassie Hart, understands this sentiment well. Shipley’s love for her 113-year-old home and her distress at seeing so many similar homes being knocked down and replaced with new, modern condos inspired her to tackle the subject in “Secrets from the Past.”

“The inspiration for ‘Secrets from the Past’ was seeing this happening all too often and changing the quaint feel of our neighborhood,” Shipley said. “I did quite a bit of research when writing this novel, including understanding the processes involved in trying to save an old house from demolition.”

Shipley’s book is now available on Amazon Kindle. It follows the 28-year-old Cassie, who finds herself unemployed, broken-hearted and still dealing with the pain that comes with being abandoned as a child. She takes all that feeling and energy and puts it into saving a 130-year-old cottage slated for demolition in the old part of Denver.

In the process of saving the cottage, she receives visits from a small child that only Cassie can see. This raises all manner of questions, most pressingly, who is this ghost and why does it want Cassie to know all about her death?

Throw in a developer with an undeniable attraction to Cassie, and the end result is a book with something for everyone.

“It took about six months to write ‘Secrets from the Past’ and then another six months to edit and polish it. The fun research involved reading about ghosts and developing a believable plot,” Shipley said. “Denver’s libraries offer excellent research resources and great tech help, which is how I was able to self-publish this novel.”

Shipley has lived in her historic cottage for 33 years. She has been a writer in several different fields, including local newspapers, writing press releases and annual reports for a local school district, and grant writing and fundraising for an education foundation.

That love of all things Denver not only comes across in the book, but also in Shipley’s appreciation for the resources which helped her in the writing process.

“Denver has some outstanding book stores, but I think the city’s best literary secret is its libraries. I visit our local library at least once a week and can spend the whole day there,” Shipley said. “If you like character-driven stories about finding love in unexpected places with an unforeseen ending, you won’t be able to put this book down.”

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