Purgatory Cover
Opening scene, Writing

Opening Scene: Purgatory Hotel

Anne-Marie Ormsby, the author of Purgatory Hotel, is the next author to be featured in the Opening Scene series. Yes, the first scene is supposed to grab readers. Anne-Marie puts it this way: “For me it was important to set the scene, what would it feel like to wake up in a frightening, dangerous place with no memory and no way of knowing how to get to somewhere safe.”

Here, Anne-Marie, a Crooked Cat Books author, shares an excerpt and her inspiration for the opener Purgatory Hotel.

First the excerpt:

 “She was about to die and she knew it, as though there was always an awareness that this was how the end felt. In that moment fear left her, and it was like when a gust of wind came and went, the stillness that followed.

Before everything stopped, her life passed before her in a random barrage of images that arrived like photographs slipping past her eyes.”

Now the inspiration:

The story begins at the end of a life, the end of Dakota Crow’s life.

And we begin with the last images that flash through her mind as she is dying – her mother, her father, her sister, and the man she was in love with.

For me, in writing this scene I was trying to think of things that I loved, things I might me 2017see in my own last moments, ‘autumn rain falling on the garden,’ was actually a memory of my own. I remember being a teenager and when it would rain I would sit beside the open back door, breathing in the scent of the wet garden and writing poems. I recall the more beautiful things even if they were insignificant to anyone else.

Dying is the loneliest thing we will ever do – no matter what happens we all know we are going to die – but what matters is what we would remember as beautiful about our lives, what memories would make our passing peaceful and happy – what things would we be most grateful for in the end, whose face would see us through that final moment?

Shortly after this she wakes up, the last images she saw in life, the wet forest, switch places with a new environment – a dirty, decaying Victorian Hotel. She finds herself in a lobby, other unfriendly faces peering at her, instantly feeling unwelcome and lost. But she knows she is dead, she just doesn’t know how or why. And for her this will be the greatest test – reliving her forgotten life in order to remember her crimes and her death in order to repent.

I chose to throw the reader in at the deep end – straight into Purgatory because I wanted the reader’s experience to mirror Dakota’s own. She has no memory of what she has done or what this awful new place is – so the reader learns along with her, travels down the rabbit hole and into the darkness with her.

For me it was important to set the scene, what would it feel like to wake up in a frightening, dangerous place with no memory and no way of knowing how to get to somewhere safe. The sad truth for Dakota is that one thing is certain – there’s one thing she can never change. She’s dead and nothing will bring her back to life.




Good reads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36329433-purgatory-hotel

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Author Interview, Opening scene

Opening Scene: The Soulweaver Series

Heidi Catherine, an Australian author, is the first to appear in this new feature I call Opening Scene. Here Heidi writes about the opener for her Soulweaver Series, The Soulweaver Trilogywhich takes the idea of reincarnation to a different level. The third, The Shadowmaker, launched May 31.

In Opening Scene, authors are asked to describe how they began their book and to give an excerpt. Here’s what Heidi wrote.


The Soulweaver series is a love story that spans many lifetimes. Occasionally one of the characters will die and be reborn, sending them on a search to find the souls they loved in their previous lifetime. It was inevitable that this series was going to need to take place over several centuries, which made choosing the right starting point a little tricky. Should I start in present day and move the story forward into the future? Or should I start in the past and work my way to present day?

In the end, I decided that my strength is my imagination. If I began the story in the past, I was going to need to bury myself in research to make sure it was accurate. And the idea of doing that spoiled all the fun for me. I much preferred the idea of making up a futuristic world on my own terms.

With that decided, my opening scene took shape in my head. I had a clear image of a girl in a forest. I’m Australian, so I wanted to begin on my turf, even though I planned for the story to cross the globe, as it felt unrealistic to me for souls to continue to be reincarnated in the one place.

The opening scene introduces us to Hannah and a girl who lives in a peaceful Australian town, which is in direct contrast to the turmoil swirling in her mind. She doesn’t quite understand her place in the world and has spent her life feeling like something is missing.

I took a bit of risk with the first sentence by telling the reader that Hannah was going to die. But I also tried to make this fact intriguing rather than off-putting. Hopefully I succeeded. Here are the first three paragraphs of the opening scene for you to decide.

Hannah’s life began the day she died. It had happened before – both the dying and the beginning. She didn’t know it, though. All she knew was now.

She knew the smell of spring in the fields around the forest. She knew the sound of whispering trees as she slipped beneath their canopy. She knew the feel of Matthew’s hand clasping hers as if she were part of his soul. It was a hand that led her deeper into the forest. The deeper they went, the more she felt at peace. Here, the world could rage its wars and her ears would be deaf. It was her place to run when the world began to spin.

The world often spun for Hannah. She’d spent the sixteen years of her life feeling like she’d forgotten something of urgent importance. It was a nagging thought that pulled at her. If only she knew what it was she’d forgotten.

And so the story begins. By the end of the first chapter, we understand exactly why Hannah always felt this way and exactly what was that she felt like she’d forgotten. And by the end of the book… well, I’d better let you find that out for yourself!


Heidi Catherine’s award-winning, romantic fantasy series, The Soulweaver, explores the possibility of loving the same souls over many lifetimes. The first novel in the series was the winner of Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Pro award and was released by Crooked Cat Books. This novel is followed by The Truthseeker and The Shadowmaker.

Not being able to decide if she prefers living in Melbourne or the Mornington Peninsula, Heidi shares her time between both places. She is similarly pulled in opposing directions by her two sons and two dogs, remaining thankful she only has one husband.

Heidi loves to hear from readers and can be found at www.heidicatherine.com


She’s loved and lost him a hundred times across a thousand years. She can’t bear to lose him again.

Lin’s dreams are haunted by faces of people she’s never met. Unable to shake the feeling she’s lived before, she’s drawn to Reinier—a stranger whose soul is heartbreakingly familiar from a time gone by.

Reinier helps Lin unravel the mystery of her past life as Hannah, a girl who sacrificed herself for her true love, Matthew. As Lin falls hopelessly in love with Reinier, her memories of her life as Hannah sharpen and she finds herself unable to let go of Matthew.

With her heart torn in two, Lin must decide whether she should stand by Reinier’s side or track down Matthew and fight for his love. What she doesn’t know is that her decision will ripple across our troubled planet, affecting far more lives than just her own.

Winner of Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Pro award, The Soulweaver is a story that will change the way you see the world.