By MATT CRANE
Claire Spradling's mother always said, "I wish someone in the family would be a writer."
After 25 years working as a Registered Dietician, Spradling left her position in the medical field and after years of working is ready to debut her first novel, "Duress."
"The idea first came to me when the security repair man came and I asked him about this duress code," she said. "He told me that's is never really used, so I started thinking about what would happen if someone sent the code out but no one came to their rescue."
Spradling said she describes the book as a story of how past secrets can stir up emergencies and in the present, and presents the question of whether good will triumph or people will succumb to difficulties.
"Everyone reacts differently when they're in trouble," she said. "I tried to create those different perspectives."
Set in West Point, "Duress" tells the story of Lottie and her unusual childhood friendship with Rastus Webber that comes back to haunt her years later.
"I wanted to tell a story right here in my hometown that was readable and relatable so people feel as if they are actually there," she said. "It is full of colorful Southern personalities that I tried make distinct for every character."
Spradling said that she shopped her novel around to some of the larger publishing houses across the country, but since many were not interested in championing first time writers she turned to a self-publishing company named Xulon.
"They offer all of these services and it's been great to work with them because I've gotten the same feedback I would have gotten from a major publishing house," she said. "You get to work at your own rate."
Spradling said the faith-based novel explores the themes of turning to God during times of danger.
"The heroine has to call on God when she needs help," she said. "It's an underlying theme throughout."
Spradling said that over the years in working on the book she has had tremendous support from the people around her.
"My friends and husband and my children have all been so very supportive," she said. "My neighbor Bobby Cole, who wrote the best-selling 'The Dummy Line,' was very encouraging."
Spradling said she encourages people who have the idea for a book to begin writing and see what the story leads.
"I encourage them to just do it," she said. "Whenever the inspiration comes to you —having a set time and set place to write helps —write down those thoughts immediately because you can go back and flesh it all out later."
Spradling said there is an excitement that can be felt when plot and characters are beginning to mesh together.
"You have to write what you know, and embrace conflict as your best friend and consider resolution your enemy until the end," she said. "When I first started, I drew a sketch of each character – what they looked like and the details about their lives."
Spradling said she encouraged new writers to never give up, which is something she will not be doing any time soon.
"It's a bug that bites you and it's a lot of fun if you enjoy it," she said. "I actually have a sequel in mind, so I've already started my research working on the next one."
Spradling will a have a book signing for "Duress" on Oct. 19 at Barnes and Noble. The novel is available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Rose Drug Company in West Point and the Barnes and Noble Bookstore at Mississippi State University.