Angela Mullins began working for Uncle Henry 26 years ago, or in many ways, it seems like she did, said the Alexander City native who in February published a faith-based suspense novel by that name – Working for Uncle Henry.
Set outside of Washington, D.C., the novel weaves a web of intrigue around a trio of characters: Parker Madison, an unemployed teacher; his elite fashion-model cousin Jennifer Vincini; and their seemingly eccentric uncle, Henry Archer, an art collector with a top-secret military background.
When Parker goes to work cataloging precious books for his uncle, he is caught in a world of dead bodies, stolen art, kidnapping and coded messages – none of which seems to overly concern either his benefactor or his beautiful cousin. He looks for answers in the faith of his childhood and wonders if his uncle hasn’t based his life’s work on twisted scripture and an unconventional approach to the end of time.
“When my daughter, Megan, was 11 months old, I had a dream that included these three main characters – Parker, Jennifer and Uncle Henry. My imagination stuck with them, so in 1995, I wrote a book about them,” Mullins said.
Dissatisfied with the initial result, Mullins destroyed the original manuscript, but for more than 20 years, she couldn’t get the characters out of her head. In 2015, she made a commitment to bring them to life once again on the printed page.
Writing it meant quitting just about every extra curricular interest in her life, Mullins said.
“There was so much research – countless books and articles – just to write a few lines of narrative,” she said. “It turned out completely different the second time I wrote it.”
Mullins used a software program for writers to stay on task, set goals and help her move text and dialogue around until she thought she had it right.
The characters consumed her, she said, and they developed distinct personalities. Uncle Henry’s idiosyncrasies eventually seemed natural to him, along with his tidbits of wisdom and his obsession with mathematical equations. There’s a bit of Mullins in Parker and in Henry’s wife, Aunt Edith, as well as a pinch of Henry himself, she said, and Jennifer reminds Mullins of an old schoolmate.
“I’ve learned from my characters,” Mullins said. “They have made me a little less critical of what I don’t understand.”
Fiction writing isn’t entirely new to Mullins, who by day is business manager at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc. As a middle school student, she liked to diagram sentences and wrote stories that were passed around the school for people to read. Now that the first manuscript in what will be a series is finished, she’s passing it around again – on a more organized level.
Working for Uncle Henry is available at Amazon.com in paperback ($9.99) and for Kindle ($4.99).