“WICKEDLY SUSPENSEFUL” THOSE ARE THE TWO BEST WORDS TO DESCRIBE ROCHESTER AUTHOR, MEG HAFDAHL’S DEBUT NOVEL “HER DARK INHERITANCE.”
Released in March by Inklings Publishing, “Her Dark Inheritance” is a horror thriller—in the style of Stephen King—where a sinister something resides in a small, off-the-beaten-path community of Willoughby, Minnesota. There, in what appears a quaint town, a Lizzie Borden-esque style murder has remained unsolved for nearly 25 years.
In the days following the murder, the main suspect, Caroline Bergman (the daughter and twin sister of the victims), disappeared. In present day, cancer-ridden Jane Downs-Forrest makes a deathbed revelation to her daughter, Daphne, confessing to her real identify, yet proclaiming herself innocent of the “Minnesota Borden murders.” Determined to clear her mother’s name, Daphne sets out for Willoughby. But as secrets are uncovered, a sinister being is unearthed and turns its focus on Daphne.
A MINNESOTA CONNECTION
While Minnesotans may recognize the town name of Willoughby, the town depicted in the book is completely fictional. “The name Willoughby actually comes from a Twilight Zone episode, and the town itself is based on a town in western Minnesota that I visited as a child,” Hafdahl explains. “It was where my great aunt and uncle lived, and as a big city girl I was at once intrigued and mystified by such a tiny place. It fascinated me how everyone knew everyone, and how time seemed to stop there. As I spent time reflecting on that small town, I couldn’t help think of the insular nature of such a place, and how it breeds horror and suspense.”
Hafdahl has had a long fascination with rural gothic and female-driven suspense and names Shirley Jackson, the Bronte‥ sisters and Daphne DuMaurier as among her earliest influencers. Additionally, as a self-proclaimed aficionado the Lizzie Border murders, it’s no surprise she would model her first novel after the infamous crime.
“Lizzie has always been a big part of my life,” Hafdahl shares. “I first discovered her when I was about eight or nine, and as a little girl fascinated with dark things, I became transfixed on the idea of this upper middle class, formerly docile woman, killing her parents in such a brutal way. I’ve read many books on the subject and fancy myself a bit of an expert, so there was no doubt Lizzie’s story was going to intersect with Daphne’s.”
While Hafdahl occasionally reads other genres, she’s especially drawn to writing horror and suspense. She explains, “As a writer, I love how high the stakes are, they allow the character to grow and change and face their inner turmoil head-on. And, for me, being scared is a delight. It opens the mind and forces you to ask how you would react.”
Born in Canada, Hafdahl moved to Minnesota in her early teens and relocated with her husband to Rochester in 2011. “We came for my husband’s medical residency and knew pretty early on we wouldn’t be leaving. Rochester is a fantastic place to raise children, with a growing community of artists and writers,” she says.
Though “Her Dark Inheritance” is Hafdahl’s first full-length novel, it’s every bit as page-turning as any King novel, leaving the reader unable to forget the characters or the story after finishing the last sentence. Without a doubt, she may be one of the best writing talents Rochester has to offer.
In addition to this first novel, Hafdahl is the author of two stand-alone short stories, “Willoughby” and “The Pit,” and two collections of short stories entitled, “Twisted Reveries” and “Tales From Willoughby.” She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and locally, the Rochester Fantastical Women Writers’ group.
“Her Dark Inheritance” is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as other major book retailers. She will be appearing for a book signing
at the Minneapolis Crypticon Convention October 26-28.
For more information, visit meghafdahl.com.
Catherine H. Armstrong is the author of “The Edge of Nowhere,” and writes under the pen name C.H. Armstrong. Her young adult novel, “Roam,” inspired by Rochester’s homeless community, will release Feb. 5, 2019. For more information, visit www.charmstrongbooks.com