“Where do you get your ideas from?” That’s the question people often ask novelists probably more than any other. I never know quite what to say when I hear it. Since Trish and I are headed to a writer’s conference in Tallahassee this coming weekend, where we’ll be featured speakers, I probably should come up with an answer.
Whatever my answer might be, it won’t compare to the astonishing answer to that question that Liz Whittaker can provide for her latest novel, The White Tower. Liz, a resident of Wales, has written numerous novels set in the British Isles. Our friend Jane Clifford explains the fascinating story of how this one came about. (Jane has offered some unusual stories, charged with synchronicity, over the years of our blog. However, this one might top them all.)
“My friend Liz, who is dying of cancer, launched her last novel, The White Tower, which she originally wrote in 1975. It’s very strange how she came by the story.
“A friend of hers got a message through a ouija board: “Tell Liz to go to Pencarreg.” That was it. No reason given.
“Liz didn’t tell me about the message, but came to me with an ordnance survey map and asked me to dowse it with a pendulum to find where she should go for a day out. The pendulum indicated Pencarreg. Then Liz told me about the message. She went to another dowser friend and repeated the question, again without revealing the reason. Likewise, the pendulum indicated Pencarreg.
“So she went there with another friend, where they visited the remains of a Roman fort on top of a small mountain. Whilst there the weirdest thing happened to her. She felt the presence of a girl from centuries ago step into her and Liz began to channel an unknown language at the same time as this girl showed her events from centuries before.
“Liz didn’t feel too comfortable with what was going on, since although clairvoyant she wasn’t used to mediumship. Her friend was astonished to see Liz gabbling away in a strange language. There was an extraordinary noise in the air and to their astonishment a pillar of bees above Liz fell on her and covered her, bees crawling inside her clothes, in her hair, all over her. Terrified, she ran shrieking down the mountain.
“Amazingly, the bees left her unharmed and the spirit girl had gone! During the whole experience Liz downloaded the story for the White Tower. Back in the ‘70s, I read it chapter by chapter hot from the type writer. However, it remained unpublished until I encouraged her to re-write it in recent years. She has dedicated the book to me.
“Last Tuesday, we were discussing the bee incident and Liz told me a friend, who is not psychic, had trouble believing the events that led to the story. A short time later, I was sitting at an outdoor café, while Liz had gone to order coffee, and I watched a woman walk past me with a bee buzzing inside a wine glass. She was holding a card over the top and was walking purposefully up a busy high street taking this bee somewhere. I have never seen someone rescuing a bee in a busy town before!
“Liz returned with the coffees and another woman stopped to chat to her about the book and of course the bee incident was discussed again. The novel tells an extraordinary story of when the Romans brought Christianity here and Druidism and the old ways went underground. So there is mystery and magic in this novel, and it seems that Liz had literally channeled it from a spirit from the past.
Below is the cover image for The White Tower.