The adventures of a clairvoyant teenage girl are chronicled in the debut novel of Bluffton Town Councilman Mike Raymond, who can add author to his resume with the release of "Prophetess."
The self-published work, now available in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon.com, tells the story of 16-year-old Dannilee Rose Bennett, whose unusual ability lands her in big trouble.
Doubts about what a retired, male business-process engineer would know about a teenage girl with paranormal capabilities led the councilman to write under the pen name M.J. Raymond, he said.
But he's blowing his own cover: Raymond has started a blog and scheduled a book signing at 4 p.m. Sunday at Pepper's Porch to get the word out.
"I'm the author, editor, publisher, cover artist -- and promoter," Raymond said.
He wrote the story during his years on the road doing consulting work for various companies. After a fruitless search for a publisher and with the rising popularity of e-book readers such as the Kindle, Raymond said he dusted off the novel about a year ago to release it online.
Raymond has been published before, but largely in the corporate world in the form of educational seminars and marketing plans, he said.
Creating fictional characters and weaving together a story of romance and mystery was a challenge, he said. To boost "the multicultural, international adventure," he interviewed FBI agents, Environmental Protection Agency investigators and university professors. He also conducted research on paranormal phenomena, he said.
The book has started to cause a stir at Town Hall. Mayor Lisa Sulka said she didn't believe the rumors until she went online to download the novel on her Kindle as a beach read during a recent family vacation.
Raymond said he has started to get feedback from readers, and that's been the most rewarding part of his effort.
"They're talking about the characters," Raymond said. "So now, the characters aren't just in my mind, they're alive with people reading the book.
"That's a good feeling."
Along with his responsibilities as a councilman and a Bluffton Township Fire District commissioner, Raymond has started working on the second book of the trilogy starring Dannilee as she struggles to decide whether her ability is a blessing or a curse.
Follow staff writer Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.