Inspired by the biblical story of Hannah, who finally has a son, Samuel, after years spent longing for a child, author Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg set out to write a story about the relationship between a mother and son. Set within the walls of fictional elite boarding school Dunning Academy, Blasberg’s The Nine (She Writes Press) reflects on the relationship of Hannah Webber and her only child, a son named Sam. Hannah has kept a close eye on Sam, being involved in his life and school as much as possible. Although she struggles with the desire to keep her son at home, Hannah believes that in order to give Sam the best education, he must become a student at Dunning
“I have always had a passion for academic novels” Blasberg told Spine. “Campus novels don’t show the parents' perspective. I wanted to show their side, along with the students.'” The Nine is written from the perspectives of both Hannah Webber and Sam Webber. The reader is given an authentic view of young Sam as he struggles with living away from home for the first time, building friendships, and navigating the new world where established social circles are given preference.
In parallel, Blasberg provides her readers with a window on a mother who toils with conscience and heart, wanting nothing more than to be part of her son's life. She shows readers the helplessness that overcomes Hannah each day, while Sam both refutes and accepts the measures she undertakes to stay connected with him.
Building the fictional institution's walls came naturally to Blasberg, “My husband and three children each attended a different boarding school,” she explained. Family experience and discussions with their schoolmates gave the author plenty of material to tap in to. Blasberg then poured in details from her own imagination to create a mystery that delves deep into the school's history and those of its graduates.
In addition to pulling parts of the novel from real experiences and her imagination, Blasberg based some details on stories and myths she discovered through research. “Secrets lead to betrayal,” Blasberg explained. Betrayal has a strong hold within the novel and is a key aspect in the lives of each of the characters within the pages of The Nine. Saying more would give away too much of the mystery. Readers can learn more in the novel, which arrived on bookstands last week.
E. M. Panos's passion for fantasy and mystery began forming at a young age, with episodes of Godzilla and Scooby-Doo. Later, she became enthralled with the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Marvel Comics, and Joss Whedon. Today, Panos is an avid reader of all things fiction. As an author, she pens short stories, novellas, and flash fiction which contain elements of the supernatural, mythological, and/or fantasy. Find her on Twitter @EMPanosWrites.