A PROPHESY from Biblical times. A race against time to uncover family secrets from the past. A climactic battle between good and evil.
This is not the plot of the latest Dan Brown best-seller but the debut novel by a Lowton author who has finally achieved her long-held ambition of getting into print.
Sheila Mughal, of Heath Lane, has penned ambitious book The Lines of Tamar about twin sisters who find themselves on a crash course with destiny as they are related to a long line of twins going back thousands of years to a woman in the Biblical book of Genesis.
Sheila wrote the 560-page novel at break-neck speed after being inspired by her own interest in family history and deciding to weave some of her research into fiction rather than write about her own ancestors.
She said: “I’ve no idea how the book came about really but I’ve always been interested in genealogy. I started researching my own family tree at 24 and have gone back to Biblical times, so I was determined to write about all my ancestors.
“However, I thought there wouldn’t be enough interest for a general audience so I decided to write a work of fiction including one of my ancestors and fill it with messages and touches from my own experiences.
“I wrote the book really quickly, it only took me about four months. I would be thinking about it a great deal during the day and I would basically dream, the next chapter, waking up at dawn and typing as fast as I could.
“I finished writing it on Christmas Eve last year but then it took about 10 months of re-reading and editing. Publishing has taken quite a long time.”
The Lines of Tamar follows adopted twins Ruby and Eenayah, who are living very different lives on separate sides of the Atlantic at the novel’s outset but have mysterious parallels in their pasts.
Eenayah’s search for their birth mother uncovers a link to their ancestors from the past and tells her she and Ruby belong to an unbroken line of female twins.
The terrible truth emerges that one of the twins is reliving a former life and tragedy looms large as forces beyond the sisters’ imagining prepare for battle to control the outcome of the prophecy.
Sheila acknowledges the similarity of some of the plot elements to the hugely-popular works of Dan Brown but says the book also crosses several genres and styles and even weaves it some of her own life story and research into her family.
She said: “It’s definitely a bit like The Da Vinci Code in the way it mixes fact and fiction. Some of it is based on alleged real historical and Biblical scripts, but I have taken the novelist’s liberty of adding to this tapestry to make it more interesting.
“The style is interesting because I’m naturally a comedy writer but I wanted to challenge myself by doing a book which was a really serious story but has humour in it too.
“I come from the Enid Blyton era of children’s stories so my book has also got old manor houses, historical tunnels and all those mysterious things, but there’s also sentimentality and I hope certain chapters will bring a tear to the eye.
“I suppose it’s a genealogical detective story which I hope will keep readers guessing to the end. It’s only about half way through you realise what’s happening, and you only really get it in the last two chapters. There’s also elements of horror and the cover design certainly makes it look like that sort of book, but it’s more of a mystery.”
Born in Leigh, Sheila has been writing since she was a child but felt this was the right time to make her move into the literary world.
She is currently juggling her writing with a job as a consultant to the health service and says she often gets ideas and pens bits of her books when on trains or away with work. The novel draws on her knowledge of healthcare and the side-effects of medications used to treat depression and bipolar conditions.
She says she is delighted to see her name finally on the shelves in print but admits finishing The Lines of Tamar was tough at times.
She said: “It’s a relief the book is out. Writing drains you of your energy and I found I couldn’t do more than two hours a day.
“During the process I also ignored everyone around me at times, so it’s a relief to spend more time with my family. I never have any doubts the book would get into print but until you submit it for scrutiny you don’t know if it’s any good, so the five-star reviews I’ve had on Amazon have just been brilliant.”
Sheila is currently working on a follow-up and will be returning to the world of arcane prophecies and historical and spiritual conspiracy theories for her second book, mysteriously titled The Descent of Sheol.
The Lines of Tamar by Sheila Mughal is out now in paperback and as an ebook. For more information about her writing, visit www.sheilamughal.com