Colleen Coble grew up loving Gothic novels. For the past 10 years, she also have been a big fan of the music of all-woman Irish group Celtic Woman.Coble, who lives in Wabash, combined her two interests in her new novel, "Because You're Mine," which will be released Jan. 10.
The book will be a bit darker and more suspenseful than the Christian fiction author's past best-selling books, such as "Twilight at Blueberry Barrens," which are about 75 percent suspense and 25 percent romance, she said during a recent interview.
Coble, who is in a writer's group with Fort Wayne authors, said she knew she wanted Charleston, S.C., to be the setting for "Because You're Mine" because the city has a very Gothic feel to it. When she went there to soak up the atmosphere, she saw a lot of Irish influence.That influence, and seeing a performance by Celtic Woman on public television, helped inspire her idea for the book's main character — a strong, red-haired female Irish violin virtuoso.
"It's kind of funny where inspiration leads you," said Coble, who isn't of Irish descent.
The heroine, Alanna, who is a composite of two former Celtic Woman performers, grew up in a camp of Irish Travelers — a cultural group much like gyspies — and was abandoned by her mother, Coble said.
Alanna went on to become a talented musician and marry, Coble said. She and her husband, Liam, are expecting their first child when she is told he has been killed by a car bomb while their band is in Charleston for a performance. She then fears her husband's father will try to take the child away from her, and she can't bear the thought of losing that last link to Liam.
To get the protection of U.S. citizenship, Alanna marries her manager, who has her stay in a creepy, old mansion he owns.
"He's not the man she thinks he is," Coble said. "He has a locked room and lots of secrets, all the way back to her sister, who has been missing for years."
The first one-third of the book is set in Ireland, where readers learn more about the heroine's past and the threat from her father-in-law, Coble said. The remainder of the novel takes place mainly in the creepy mansion in Charleston.
Add in a case of mistaken identity, and "It's super fun," Coble said of the mystery and suspense.
Coble actually wrote the book in 2008, but her editor at the time thought it needed more romance in it, so Coble shelved it. She pulled out the book about a year ago and showed it to her current editor, who loved it.
Coble, whose books always have a basic thread of Christian faith winding through the plot, did some minor rewriting to get "Because You're Mine" ready for publication.
When she learned Celtic Woman would be performing Dec. 15 in Wabash, she and her husband bought tickets, and she asked her book publicist to contact the group to tell them about the new book and to try to arrange a meeting. The group, who was on its "Home for Christmas" concert tour, agreed.
"It's amazing," Celtic Woman vocalist Mairead Carlin, speaking by phone, said of Coble basing her book heroine on group members. "I really just found out my Granny read one of her books."
"They were incredibly gracious and friendly," Coble said of meeting the group. "I’d spoken with Mairead on the phone the week before, and when I introduced myself, she hugged me and introduced me to the rest of the ladies. I gave them all copies of the book as well as a book for Mairead’s granny, who is one of my readers.
"We had seats on the second row, and it was a fabulous night!"
Celtic Woman update
Celtic Woman seems to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity, said vocalist Mairead Carlin during a recent telephone interview.
Their new album, "Voices of Angels," which was released Nov. 18, has ranked No. 1 or No. 2 on Billboard magazine's World Albums Chart during its four weeks on the chart. The group also has been nominated for its first Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category for its January 2016 album, "Destiny."
With encouragement from a new music director, Carlin said the group has taken a more classical music approach to performing Irish songs. For example, the group recorded the "Voices of Angels" album with a symphony of 73 musicians.
Carlin said they also have been digging into the treasure trove of old Irish songs and performing them with "the Celtic Woman twist" — the unique blending of their voices.
The group, which is talking about possibly recording a PBS special this summer, also doesn't worry about what seems to fit the format for success.
"All we want to do is connect with people and move them," Carlin said.
They often get letters from people who have been touched deeply by their music, she added.
"That is quite an honor," she said.
Celtic Woman begins its "Voices of Angels" concert tour in March. For locations and updates, go to www.celticwoman.com/tour-dates.