“As crushed as I was, the very fact that people wrote back — I think one editor took it to acquisition, it just wasn’t a commercial story. It was a quieter story. But that lit a fire under me, made me a little desperate.”
Lucky for Gensler, third time’s the charm. Gensler used NaNoWriMo again to draft her novel “The Revenant,” a Victorian ghost story inspired by a female Cherokee seminary in Tahlequah, Okla. The book sold to Knopf, a part of Random House publishing, as a part of a two-book deal.
The book earned her the Oklahoma Book Award and Parent’s Choice Silver Award.
Her most recent novel, a Young Adult paranormal murder mystery titled “The Dark Between,” was released in August, and was inspired from research for “The Revenant.” One of the books Gensler stumbled upon while researching was a non-fiction book called “Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death” by Deborah Blum. The book details the research of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research, a group of scholars and scientists associated with Cambridge University who applied the scientific method to paranormal activity.
When Gensler started asking “what if” questions about the real society, a plot and characters were born.
“I like to write about teens so my focus was going to be what if three children of some of these founders were thrown together and realized what their parents did?” Gensler said. “And what if one of them actually had some kind of paranormal ability that she’d been suppressing all these years? And what if they start to suspect that somebody in the society — which I call the Metaphysical Society in the book — has been murdering people as part of their research, including a dear friend of one of the teenager characters?”