Friends of Webster County Library hosting author of ‘Duress’

From Press Reports

Claire Spradling will be speaking and signing her book “Duress” at the March 10 meeting of the Friends of the Webster County Public Library.

Luncheon with Books begins at 11:30 a.m. Monday. A light lunch will be available for a nominal fee.

Spradling and her husband, Stanley, have lived in West Point for 34 years. She worked as a food’ editor for two newspapers while in college. At one time she owned a baking and catering business. As a dietary consultant, Spradling charted the nutritional progress of hospital and nursing home patients, wrote nutritional pamphlets, completed reports and trained cooks.

She created a cooking class, “Reality Hospitality,” to teach biblical hospitality and cooking skills to young women in her church. Spradling writes a weekly food column for the Daily Times Leader newspaper. She teaches cooking classes and tennis to adults, young people and children, and helps to coach the Oak Hill Academy tennis team.

Working in nursing homes and hospitals influenced Spradling’s devious and unpredictable characters that loom in the pages of “Duress.” The new author writes about danger in a small Southern town. She goes into the mind of a psychopath and the woman he terrorizes in “Duress.”

“We take for granted that people in our past can come back and haunt us. Alarm systems, law enforcement and family can’t guarantee protection and safety. We may have to call on God,” says the author.

The novel exposes the feeling of protection that people take for granted in a home security system. When the security system repairman came to Spradling’s house, she asked him about the “duress” code. He told her, “Don’t worry about it. It’s never used.”

All modern alarm systems are equipped with a duress signal or a panic button that silently alerts authorities when a victim is in a hostage situation. Who expects to be held under duress in their home? Who knows how to use the “duress” code as explained in the owner’s manual?

“Duress” unfolds the story of Lottie and an unusual childhood relationship in her past that comes back to torment her in the present. Rastus Webber has been locked up in a mental institution, since his bizarre activity of ‘marking’ people, was discovered his senior year of high school.

His psychiatrist says Rastus is schizophrenic and not responsible for harmful acts. Law officials claim he is psychotic and should be imprisoned before he kills someone, if he hasn’t already.

Most people assume that a schizophrenic with sociopathic tendencies would not be released from a mental institution to attend a high school class reunion. However, when Rastus receives a reunion invitation, signed by Lottie, he gets rehabilitated.

Rastus returns to see Lottie, who befriended him during his school years when everyone else rejected him. Rastus shows up at Lottie’s house. He won’t leave and she can’t escape. She sends a “duress” code that’s ignored. Will Rastus terrorize Lottie with his brutal ritual for which he has been institutionalized since high school?

“I’m writing and loving it,” Spradling says. “The bug has bitten me. I enjoy writing so much that I’m working on a sequel to ‘Duress.’”

The author brings a community to life with colorful Southern characters who clash in disagreements. People get to know the characters as the secrets of the past creep into the present.

West Point’s Bobby Cole, author of “The Dummy Line” and “Moon Underfoot”, says, “’Duress’ is a great story of second chances. Readers will love the genuine personalities.”