Macomb author publishes book of supernatural encounters

By: Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 28, 2015

 Macomb Township author Veronica Dale recently published her first fiction book, “Night Cruiser,” a collection of 10 short stories that she has written since 2006.

Macomb Township author Veronica Dale recently published her first fiction book, “Night Cruiser,” a collection of 10 short stories that she has written since 2006.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Veronica Dale is an eternal optimist, the type of person whose unbending faith in the power of the human spirit bleeds into everything she does.

This includes her writing career, which has begun to blossom over the last few years. Above all else, Dale — who just published her first fiction book, “Night Cruiser,” in December — wants her work to inspire feelings of hope in readers.

In the Macomb Township author’s home office hangs a plaque that reads, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, then it’s not the end.” The ultimate triumph of good over evil, the will to carry on in the face of adversity — these are themes that she tries to convey in all of her stories, no matter how dark the subject matter may get at times.

“I think I was just born this way,” Dale said. “My sister and I used to love reading fairy tales, science-fiction stories and fantasy novels when we were growing up. I might write about some spooky, eerie stuff in my work, but I’m not a horror writer. There’s always hope in everything that I create.”

Her new book — whose full title is “Night Cruiser: Short Stories about Creepy, Amusing or Spiritual Encounters with the Shadow” — is a collection of 10 short stories that Dale has written since 2006. It is currently available for purchase in both digital and paperback editions on Amazon.com.

“Night Cruiser” also contains Dale’s award-winning piece, “Dried Beans.” A few years ago, the story won first place in the Detroit Working Writers’ annual competition, taking home the Julia Grice Award honoring the best work of short fiction. It was also published in an issue of the St. Anthony Messenger, a national Catholic magazine with about 130,000 subscribers and 500,000 online readers.

The “shadow” in each “Night Cruiser” story is different for every character. For recently divorced Isabel, it’s the whisper from the basement that invites her to come downstairs. For second-grader Emma, it’s the tortured spirit that has haunted her family for generations. For Brent, it’s the deadly creature that he’s sure his wife has become. Each of them is forced to cope with this source of darkness by confronting it head-on.

Dale’s perspective in “Night Cruiser” was largely shaped by her faith and her work helping people in need. Before retiring in September 2013 to focus on her writing full-time, she worked for 26 years as a pastoral minister at St. Michael Catholic Community in Sterling Heights. During her time there, she routinely witnessed real-life examples of individuals facing their demons.

“There were a lot of people who came into the church to get help because they were struggling,” she said. “I was always struck by how, even in the face of adversity, they were able to remain hopeful. They didn’t give up, and I really admired them for that.”

Dale also cited three other key sources of inspiration for “Night Cruiser.” The first is her favorite author J.R.R. Tolkien, who showed in classic fantasy novels like “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” how tragic events can become redemptive. Another is the Christian mystic woman Julian of Norwich, who wrote about her faith in divine providence, or God’s intervention in the real world. The third is the famous psychologist Carl Jung, who provided Dale with the overarching theme of her book.

“Jung wrote a lot about this idea of ‘the shadow,’ which he believed was the dark side of ourselves that we don’t want to confront,” she explained. “He said that a person who struggles with their shadow but ultimately faces it will find their inner light.”

Dale finds motivation from other sources, as well. For the last few years, she has been a member of a novel critique group created by Cynthia Harrison, a retired creative writing professor from Macomb Community College. Harrison is also a published author who has written eight novels and other books, a couple of which have reached the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s sales charts.

Harrison has spent a great deal of time reading Dale’s works-in-progress during the group’s monthly meetings, and she has always been deeply impressed with the quality of her friend’s writing.

“Vernie is definitely the most polished lyrical writer out of all of us,” she said. “Her prose is akin to poetry — it’s that beautiful. She has this incredible elegance and grace to her work where every single sentence she writes is a gem. She really has the whole package as a writer.”

While the darkness in some of Dale’s work may seem surprising for a retired minister, Harrison believes that it comes from a very real and honest place.

“Vernie is such a genuinely nice and sweet person, just the loveliest human being you could ever hope to meet,” she said. “She’s never said a mean word to anyone or about anyone in her life. She doesn’t have any darkness in the way she acts, so her entire ‘shadow’ — it all goes into her writing.”

Harrison also can’t wait to see the publication of Dale’s upcoming four-part series of fantasy novels, “Coin of Rulve.” All four books have already been written, but only the first is completely finished, while the others are still in the editing process. Harrison compared “Coin of Rulve” favorably to acclaimed fantasy series like “Game of Thrones” for its epic scope.

“Those books are just awe-inspiring and mind-boggling with their exquisite attention to detail,” she said. “Vernie’s short stories are really just appetizers for what she has in store next. Out of all of us (in the novel group), she’s the one who is most likely to have her books made into movies.”

But before any of her work gets the Hollywood treatment, Dale will focus on getting “Night Cruiser” into more readers’ hands. Still, she has no upcoming book signings scheduled, and the collection is not available in any local bookstores.

While she would like to have a long post-retirement career as an author, she admitted that her slow-and-steady writing pace makes it difficult for her to compete with other professional writers, and the promotional and marketing aspects of the job can often be a chore.

“If I don’t write, I get grouchy,” she said with a chuckle. “And the business side of things really just takes away from your writing time.”

That’s where Dale hopes to devote her attention for the foreseeable future. She is happiest when she can dive headfirst into crafting worlds that combine faith-based, spiritually themed stories of hope with the boundless imagination offered by sci-fi and fantasy.

“I love stories that are about a level of reality that we don’t get to experience all the time — things that are beyond the realm of human understanding,” she said. “It might be something that we can’t see with our eyes but that is very profound and moving. If a story or novel doesn’t make you feel anything, then I don’t think its art.”

For more information, visit www.veronicadale.com.