After an explosion shakes the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, a woman escapes to the Eastern Shore with her young son. She spends the next 280 pages figuring out what’s happening and why an unnamed evil is following her.
Local author B.B. Shamp used bits of her own traumatic — but slightly less dramatic — experiences to inform her new book, “Third Haven: A Novel of Deceit.”
In 2008, Shamp fell off a ladder in her D.C. home. In the hospital with a broken back, she suffered a massive pulmonary embolism, then major organ failure. Doctors induced a coma, but Shamp still faced a near-death experience and saw the fabled white light.
That could be a lot to carry when a person wakes up and must re-learn how to walk and speak, hampered by PTSD and a traumatic brain injury.
Over four years, she used “Third Haven” as a map to help understand herself and bury breadcrumbs of trauma and intrigue for readers to follow that journey.
The novel’s initial explosion shakes the main character, Claire, from her everyday frustrations and tosses her into a rollicking plot that pushes her from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to coastal Delaware.
“The plot is engaging … and there are a lot of clues as to who the antagonist is,” Shamp said.
“There’s this evil that’s following her … so she comes to the beach to live a different kind of lifestyle.”
Shamp was a high school educator for 33 years, in a city where the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang was recruiting special-needs or at-risk teens who merely sought a sense of family and belonging.
“[These are] totally fictional characters, but the events that happened during that time period totally informed my writing,” said Shamp, who retired to eastern Selbyville on Dirickson Creek.
The author loves the grandmotherly character, Odessa, since, ‘She’s what everyone wishes they had in a grandma. But I do feel strongly about the relationship between Claire and her son, Sam,” said Shamp. “It’s ultimately the story of three mothers from different walks of life who are dealing with the loss of a child.”
“I think it’s a quick read … so the characters have a tendency to jump off the page. Women say, ‘Oh, I love Odessa,’ and men say, ‘[Detective] Booker’s my man.’“
It’s not just a ladies’ novel. Men enjoy it, too, Shamp said.
Local readers will also recognize familiar settings, including Fenwick Island, Rehoboth Bach and Ocean City, Md.
Since its November release, the self-published novel has earned 4.6 of 5 stars on Amazon.com.
“For me, [writing] was therapy. Traumatic brain injury is one of the least identified injuries … mostly because of falls,” Shamp said. “You don’t have to be old or elderly. … People don’t realize. They think ‘I’ve lost my edge,’ when, in reality, it’s a traumatic brain injury.”
“Third Haven” has even inspired some readers. Shamp said that one friend was inspired to begin volunteering at Sussex Correctional Institution, after reading about Third Haven characters who turned to a life of crime.
That’s fantastic to Shamp, who wants people to reach out and connect, which could help improve the prison system, or someone’s own mental health. Even the smallest actions can bring joy to others and oneself, she said.
Currently, the novel is available through Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach and Amazon.com.
Shamp is available for author lectures or book talks, being an avid book-clubber herself. Details are online at www.BBShamp.com.