Sedalia artist Madge Gressley has traded in her paint brushes for the pen.
On June 1 she published her first novel “Inescapable the Beginning,” a romantic thriller filled with oceanographic biospheres, corporate espionage, intrigue, and human trafficking.
Gressley has been involved with the local art scene for years. She is the secretary for the Sedalia Visual Art Association, past president and board member for the Liberty Center Association for the Arts and is a graphic artist who co- owns Art & Graphics Innovation LLC with Myrna Ragar . Her artistic liaisons have only morphed into a new form of creativity since 2011.
After the death of her husband, Stuart Gressley, who at one time was the advertising director at the Sedalia Democrat, she said she no longer felt visually creative. After beginning several pieces and not completing them, she gave her art supplies away to her granddaughter Holly Gressley.
Gressley said she felt the need to be creative but not visually.
“It held no allure for me anymore,” she added.
By chance she became interested in the “Twilight” series books written by Stephenie Meyer and began to interact with other fans online. Gressley hadn’t been attracted to that type of fiction in the past, but for some reason at this point in her life it struck a cord.
“It just grabbed me,” she said.
The story line, the characters and the love story behind it all is what attracted her to the series, she said.
“That became basically a small obsession,” she said. “I bought all the CDs, DVDs … I bought all the CDs for all the songs in the movies. I got the books on Kindle and that still wasn’t enough. I found this website, it’s called the ‘Twilight Saga’ and on there is a whole bunch of people who get together and they have fan fiction.”
She began to read some of the fan fiction and realized she could write something as well.
“I didn’t want to write something based on ‘Twilight,’” she added. “I wanted to write something that was based on me and what I was thinking.”
Her main character, Darcey Callahan, is a graphic designer in Dallas who meets Brad, a marine engineer for the ORCA Corporation, who is working on a classified bio-dome project six miles under the ocean off the coast of Lima, Peru. When Brad fails to contact Darcey for several weeks, she decides to search for him. The decision changes the course of her life when she’s involved in a tragic car accident, losses her memory and then falls prey to human traffickers.
When she began her book she was planning to write it as science-fiction, but her characters changed her mind quickly.
“I had developed the setting and started with the characters, I had Brad and Darcey, already set into this,” she said. “And I already had Lily set into this science-fiction scene. And I thought I need to figure out how they got to where they were. It was like I started writing in the middle of the book, I hadn’t started with the beginning. I thought ‘I’ll write a back story and see how that develops.’ Well, when I started with the back story they did not play nice. They did not want to be out in space.”
Once she came to that realization, her muse began to surface, and she said the story “developed on its own.”
“I didn’t have to think about it, it was just playing in my mind, and what I saw I wrote down,” she explained. “I had whipped out maybe 50 to 60 pages in less than a day. I became obsessed with writing it. I didn’t have to think about it, it was all playing in my head like I was watching a movie. Basically that is exactly what I was seeing and I just wrote down what I saw in my mind.”
She bought herself a laptop so when she became tired of sitting in front of the computer she could write elsewhere in the house.
“And so I just kept writing and writing and writing,” she noted. “And the first thing I know, I had almost 500 pages.”
After writing 500 pages she decided to divide the book into two books and begin a series. “Inescapable the Beginning” is the first book in a series of three. The second book, “Inescapable Remembering,” is being edited and she has begun work on the third book, not yet titled.
Gressley met her online editor, Mary-Nancy Smith, of Eagle Eye Editing, in Sedalia through her daughter Christina Gant.
Gressley emailed Smith and they began to correspond back and forth.
“I loved the book instantly,” Smith said. “It’s a really good read, it’s flows really well. It’s not choppy like some of them are. And she had done a lot of the editing to start with. So it was very easy to work with.”
Gressley said one of her favorite authors is James Patterson, but she also enjoys John Grisham and Tom Clancy.
“Even though Anne Perry is more historical she still has a lot of the same attributes in her (Gressley’s) book,” Smith said. “Even some of Nora Roberts’ and maybe J.D. Robb’s books are very similar.”
Although Gressley said the romance in her book isn’t “gushy,” it has intimate moments but no graphic scenes.
“Oh she’s wonderful,” Smith said of Gressley’s writing. “I done 30 or 40 authors in the last few years and you know some of them have really been awesome and others, they’ll sit in the back for awhile. But when Madge sent me her book … when I read it I thought whoa! I was sending her emails all day going ‘I like this.’ I was very excited, it’s a thrill ride — you get caught up in it.”
Smith said while editing the second book she emailed Gressley and told her that her adrenalin was pumping.
“She has such a way with words,” Smith added. “She honestly does, and it’s very fun to read. It’s quick, you don’t feel bogged down with too many details, but she gives you enough to keep you interested.”
Writing has been fulfilling for her.
“This has filled the hole that was there,” Gressley added.
She also has a Sophie Collins Mystery Series available on Kindle, that she says is an “edgy,” modern day Nancy Drew adventure.
“She’s very edgy, she has a mouth,” Gressley said.
“Inescapable the Beginning,” is available in paper back for $14.95 on Amazon.com and on Kindle for $1.99. Gressley also has a Facebook page, The Gressley Group. She added that the books will soon be available at local book stores.
Next month, she will have a book signing from 5 to 7 p.m. July 19 at Reader’s World, 1400 S. Limit Ave.