“I write because I'm a musician and a reader and because I need to make something of my observations. I knit them into a story that's nothing more than my point of view. But that's all creativity is -- the view from your side of the kitchen table," Melanie Wells.
Review by Glenn Arbery, People Newspapers
"Last weekend, when I had more work even more backed up than usual after several days of the flu, the last thing I could afford was to read a 338-page novel for a review.
Maybe, I thought, I’d just read a few pages to get the flavor of the book, pull out a quote or two, and draw on comments from an interview I did last fall with Dallas author Melanie Wells.
Fat chance. When I finished the book on Sunday — the most satisfying mystery novel I’ve read in some time (and I wouldn’t usually include supernatural Christian fiction in that category) — it was with no regrets."
Interview for Bookshelf Review
On what started Melanie writing:
I took a couple of stabs at it in my twenties, but it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I was tackled broadside by a sudden and unexpected burst of creativity. I switched from classical music (I went to SMU on a violin scholarship) to country, rock and jazz, all of which require improvisation – a skill which classical musicians (including me at the time) generally don’t have. So I joined a band and tried to stay as far away from the microphone as possible. And I started writing a story. That story, which became a novel called The Permian Game, was the book I cut my teeth on. Writing that book, I learned mainly what NOT to do. And once you’ve finished that first one, you’re stuck.
Review by Jake Chism, Book Shelf Review
"Psychology professor Dylan Foster is looking forward to her summer vacation and a well deserved break. Her own personal demon named Peter Terry has made her life a living nightmare and the pain he has caused her and those she loves is more than she can bear. Unfortunately for Dylan, Peter Terry is back and this time he has gone too far.
Dylan gathers with her closest friends at a park near her Dallas home to celebrate six year old Christine Zocci’s birthday. As Christine and her friend Nicholas are playing, out of nowhere a man snatches the boy and disappears. Now Dylan suddenly finds herself in a race against time to locate Nicholas, despite warnings from the authorities to stay off the case. Armed only with her own faith and Christine’s unique spiritual insight, Dylan fights her greatest struggle yet. As she gets closer to the truth, she is faced once again with the frightening reality that Peter Terry is indeed back.
Melanie Wells has continually proven herself to be a true master of suspense and My Soul to Keep is certainly no exception. Once again we are treated to a well balanced plot that unfurls at a just the right pace, never lagging or losing steam in any way. What I love most about Wells’ writing is that you never know where the story is leading you. When you finally arrive it is not only unexpected, but well worth the wait. Dylan Foster is a strong, loveable character that will draw readers in with her humility, imperfections, and comical outlook on life. Dylan’s personal spiritual struggles are relevant and her quest for truth is infectious and even inspiring. The excellent use of first person from Dylan’s perspective adds another unique layer to an already rich story. Nowhere will you see the first person voice used more effectively.
My Soul to Keep is the third book in Well’s Dylan Foster Series. Her hardcore fans will be pleased with some questions that are finally answered and the series mysteries that are brought to light. While this book can certainly be enjoyed without reading the previous novels (When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter), I would highly recommend going back and starting from the beginning. You will certainly enjoy every moment of this series.
Melanie Wells simply gets better and better with each new installment, and it’s a shame more people aren’t noticing. All three of the books in this series are an absolute joyride that fans of suspense and mystery will love. If you are a fan of Melanie Wells than you already know what a treat you are in for with this one. For those who are late to the game, there is no better time to start than now."
Review by Sam Sattler, Book Chase
"High quality movies that scare your pants off are really rare but I think that this book offers a nice opportunity for someone to produce the next one. This is only one book in the Melanie Wells series and perhaps two of the books could be combined into one very fine movie. Being stalked by a demon capable of taking on human form is spooky stuff but this demon may have just chosen the wrong woman to stalk."
A spellbinding example of a writer at the top of her prose
Review by Kane X. Faucher, Scene Magazine
"Dylan Foster has elected of her own volition to follow the wending labyrinth of mysteries and intrigues surrounding the kidnapping of a young neighbourhood child. As the police turn up no substantive clues in finding the child, Dylan relies on a constellation of unlikely sources to aid her in the quest for truth. Chilling coincidences and the unsettling dreams of a six-year-old girl, Christine Zocci, lead Dylan on an epic and shadowy journey filled with bizarre twists and feints as she unravels an even deeper mystery. As opposed to other "whodunit" books of this genre, the tale is imbued with a more intensive psychological focus, involving haunting symbols and the paranormal connection between dreams and reality.
Melanie Wells employs sinuous, rolling description in this suspenseful drama. With a natural flair for dialogue, My Soul to Keep is a spellbinding example of a writer at the top of her prose, and an exemplary highlight that just may outshine her other offerings such as The Soul Hunter and When the Day of Evil Comes. As in her other two previous novels, Wells truly excels in writing characters of profound depth and in providing her readers with a mystifying and sinister atmosphere that truly compels. Moments of levity occur throughout to give the story a strong sense of pace and realism, allowing readers to catch their breath when the macabre richness of the tale becomes vertiginous. This interplay of shadow and light effectively make this book a kind of literary chiaroscuro, and will provide delight to those readers who wish to be swept up by the intriguing and sometimes shadowy details of the human mind."
Texas has a new author to be proud of
by Laurie Young, The Dallas Morning News
We met Dr. Dylan Foster in the first of Melanie Wells' projected spiritual warfare trilogy, When the Day of Evil Comes. Now she's back in the second, The Soul Hunter, and once again, the evil Peter Terry is her nemesis.
The thriller begins as Dylan gets ready for a date with her boyfriend, David. When she checks out a noise at her front door, she discovers a bloody ax. After reporting the incident to the police, she finds out that a coed had been murdered...(plot spoilers deleted).
In her first book, Ms. Wells had Dylan strap on her spiritual armor, faith, and fight the unknown. In the second book, Dylan uses the same spiritual armor. Once again, Ms. Wells' writing is excellent, and the characters well developed. Texas has a new author to be proud of.
Wells is a master of detail with genuine touches of everyday life
By Mike Haynes, Amarillo Globe News
In 1974, Melanie Wells was a giggling girl posing with closed eyes for her home room picture at Belmar Elementary School. She says she was scared of the teacher, who stood to the left of the class in the photo.
On Thursday (Sept. 28), Wells will speak and sign books with a much scarier picture on the cover. “The Soul Hunter,” her second spiritual-mystery novel, features part of the sinister Peter Terry’s bald, white head and one of his chilling eyes glaring at anyone who picks the book up.
Terry, who may be a fallen angel, has a proclivity for showing up in heroine/psychologist/believer Dylan Foster’s life. He has become a cult figure for those who have read “When the Day of Evil Comes,” the former Amarilloan’s first in a trilogy. Young fans even showed up at a Dallas book signing wearing T-shirts with bloody slashes printed on the back, emulating Terry’s trademark injury (maybe where his wings used to be?).
Wells’s first two books offer a hip, smart, witty character in Foster, mirroring the author’s own background and personality. Wells grew up in Amarillo in a musical, creative family, found spiritual meaning as a girl at Paramount Terrace Christian Church and carried her intellect into a career of college teaching before establishing a counseling practice in Dallas.
“The Soul Hunter” continues with the premise that wherever Peter Terry shows up, something bad happens. Just seven pages in, Foster finds an ax at her front door – with blood and hair on the blade. It won’t be long before the white stalker Terry figures in the plot.
And while hordes of flies played a symbolic role in the first novel, anyone reading No. 2 should be ready for filthy rodents.
Dylan Foster isn’t the type of Christian who goes around spouting scripture. But she has an unmistakably biblical grounding, reminiscent of Wells recalling her spiritual birth at Paramount Terrace: “That church has been like the caprock for me,” she wrote. “Foundational and immutable. You don't always see it, but you always know it's there.”
Foster uses her detective skills to search for connections between a murder, a rapist and Peter Terry, knowing that some of the answers could be spiritual ones.
Despite the heavy, good vs. evil, subject matter, “The Soul Hunter” is extraordinarily readable. Consider Foster’s thoughts as she cleans up mouse droppings in her house:
“Nowhere in the Bible, that I’m aware of, are rodents mentioned as minions of spiritual scourge. But I am convinced that had there been an eleventh plague in Egypt, if the flies, frogs and boils had failed to convince, God would have sent mice. … Maybe Pharoah knew the mice were next. Maybe that’s why he caved after the whole Passover-death thing.”
The humor seasons the story, keeping the gory and cultish elements palatable. And Wells is a master of detail with genuine touches of everyday life in the 2000s: Cheetos, erasing phone messages, tardiness for a restaurant date, Hefty garbage bags and fear of “Texas milkmaid thighs.”
Wells dedicates book No. 2 to fellow author Vickie Kraft and to Dwight Huber, chairman of the Amarillo College English department who, when Wells was his Amarillo High student, was known as “Fightin’ Dwight, the White Knight of Write.”
You can meet Wells from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at Amarillo’s Barnes and Noble bookstore. But watch out for Peter Terry.
Mike Haynes teaches journalism at Amarillo College. He can be reached at AC, the Amarillo Globe-News or firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to http://www.haynescolumn.blogspot.com for other recent columns.
Story by Mike Parker, Buddy Hollywood
"Salem’s Lot" was the first Stephen King novel I ever read, and quite frankly it scared the living crap out of me. It also got me hooked on tales of the eternal struggle between good and evil. I’ve read and enjoyed "The Exorcist" and "The Omen," and I even got a kick out of the film version of "Constantine." But let’s face it: the genre has been done to death. So if you want to capture my attention with yet another story of demonic mischief, you had better come up with something more original than "Seed of Chuckie."
Thankfully, Dallas-based psychologist turned novelist Melanie Wells knows how to weave a tale of human frailty laced with demonic treachery around a backdrop of such mundane reality that you can’t help but be sucked into the story...
Interview by Betsy, Writer at Large
Betsy: So, Melanie, how did you get the idea for “When the Day of Evil Comes”?
Melanie: I had a dream one night when I was spending the night at my best friend Trish Murphy’s house. My dream was about a creepy, skinny pasty white guy with a slash on his back. In the dream, we were at Barton Springs in Austin. There was something about a ring and a necklace. The whole thing seemed very real and invasive – like the white dude was actually IN my thoughts, as though he were real...Trish and I went to Barton Springs that afternoon. We named Peter Terry after...
Betsy: Well that's one way to create a character's name! So, have you had any experiences with spiritual warfare like the character in your stories?
Melanie: Some of the stories in the book actually did happen to me. The fly thing, for instance, which seems to get everyone riled up. It’s apparently pretty universal to have eerie experiences with flies. Mine happened at a very terrible time in my life, when I felt oppression from all sides...
Review by Sharron Stockhausen, Armchair Interviews
We first met the quirky Dr. Dylan Foster in When the Day of Evil Comes, the first book in this spiritual warfare thriller series. On the eve of her thirty-fifth birthday, as she tries on a bathing suit in a department store and sees her backside in the mirror, she begins obsessing about reducing her thighs. While that may not be unusual, the bloody axe tossed onto the entrance to her house as a car sped away is.
Thinking she received a birthday present, Foster opens the door, picks up the axe, and gets blood all over herself just as her boyfriend appears to take her out for her birthday. But that's only the beginning. Demon Peter Terry appears in the middle of a wintry Dallas night...
Review by Nathan Knapp, Regenerate Our Culture
Melanie Wells’ writing does nothing but impress me. She manages to do what many authors who have published more books than her have not done: write stories that are hard to put down, with characters that I wish I could spend time with. And she does it all in hip, snappy prose with well-placed humor.
Dylan Foster, the main character and narrator of Melanie Wells' first novel, When the Day of Evil Comes, is a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas—and unfortunately, she also seems to have worse luck than anyone in Texas. Her carefully ordered home is infested first by flies, then rats—driving Dylan and her obsessively clean habits up the wall. Accused of impropriety by a former patient, and still later becoming a suspect in a murder, it’s only a matter of time until...
Review by Peggy Thomason, 1340mag.com
Melanie Wells is an outstanding suspense writer and she excels in this second novel in The Day Of Evil series. You are immediately plunged into the depths of spiritual warfare beginning with our main character’s discovery of a bloody axe and kept there until the very end of the novel.
Ms. Wells, well educated in theology and a psychologist herself, uses her extensive knowledge to lead you through the mazes of the continued haunting by Peter Terry who bedeviled the main character, Dylan Foster, in the first book When the Day of Evil Comes. Dylan Foster, herself a professor with a similar educational background as the author, is a relentlessly curious woman, continually placing herself in precarious situations, creepy destinations, and the dark cult of angel worship in order to solve the current mystery.
This is an excellent book for the thrill-seeking reader and leaves you with a little more knowledge of scripture than you probably had when you started reading.
Story by Mike Haynes, Amarillo Globe News
Melanie Wells is a renaissance woman, or at least a Texas version. She grew up in Amarillo with musicians as parents, went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas to study music, graduated in English, attended seminary, got a master's in counseling psychology and plays the violin but now calls it a fiddle.
She also leads what she calls an "outside-the-box group" of marriage and family therapists in Dallas and now, just in time for Halloween, a national publisher has released her suspense thriller novel, "When the Day of Evil Comes."
Oh, and she teaches a Bible study.
I've read only the first chapter of her book, but I'm confident in saying Wells is what Philip Yancey had in mind when I heard the famous author say 26 years ago that Christianity needs excellence in the arts, not just middling writers and painters and musicians who have devout intentions...
Review by Paula Parker, Lifeway Christian Resources
First Dylan Foster — a psychology professor and therapist — meets that ghastly pale man at the faculty picnic. Then her mother's engagement ring turns up — the same ring that was buried with her mother two years before. While she is still dealing with these eerie events, she is accused of impropriety with a former patient. After that, things really get weird...
Review by Laurie Young, The Dallas Morning News
A native of Texas and a Southern Methodist graduate, Melanie Wells has written a powerful first novel, the first of three in the series. Narrator Dylan Foster faces the terror of a supernatural being named Peter Terry. Evil arrives in the form of a ghostly white, horribly gashed Peter, accompanied by the smell of rotten eggs and huge black flies in an otherwise antiseptically clean house. The developments cause the collapse of teacher-psychologist Dylan Foster's ordinary life. With only her "spiritual armor" as a weapon, she begins digging to learn who Peter is. She soon finds a connection to a tragic incident three decades ago. Dylan is a reluctant heroine involved in a fight she doesn't understand. Readers will enjoy this thrilling spiritual warfare. Although there is no resolution to the Peter issue, we are left with the feeling that good will prevail.
Review by Sharon Stockhausen, Armchair Interviews
Melanie Wells' book cover for When the Day of Evil Comes promises suspense, and this page turner delivers what it promises. Free-spirited psychology professor Dr. Dylan Foster forces herself to attend a faculty picnic in Austin, Texas. There she comes face-to-face with demon, Peter Terry, and her life literally becomes a living hell...
Review by Melanie Dobson, Faith on Fiction
“Creepy” barely describes the man haunting psychology professor Dylan Foster. With his chalk white skin, bony limbs, and hairless body, Peter Terry tortures the professor when she’s awake and when she’s asleep.
He obviously wants something from her…but what?
Strange things happen after Peter Terry visits. The wedding ring Dylan’s mother wore to her grave is wrapped and left in Dylan’s car. The stench of rotten eggs overtakes her home. A former patient commits suicide. And a current student goes insane...