Dark Secrets” is the first in a series of historical fiction novels, based on the life of Ollie McNew. In early childhood, a grandmother influenced Ollie’s belief in guardian angels and inspired her to heed premonitions as warnings sent by angels. The book begins with Ollie in a semiconscious state, guided by an angel, trying to get home after receiving a head injury in an attack by two boys — the same boys that she thinks raped her friend and murdered a girl in a nearby community. She is in a coma for five days, recalling vivid events of her first 15 years. Each chapter is an episode leading the reader through Ollie’s life.
Ollie was born on an Arkansas farm in 1908, when the United States was becoming a world leader and farm families made up over half of the population. Conditions for the Negro community had worsened, women rallied for the right to vote, hobos and outlaws traveled country roads, and social change in music, dance and fashion filtered into rural areas. This novel shows prejudice faced by Negroes, Indians, Gypsies, Jews and women of that era.
“Dark Secrets” won first place in the 2010 Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) Mainstream Novel Contest. That same year, the second book in the series, “Angels for All,” won a third place award in another OWFI category. The set of three books, The Ollie’s Angel Series, was named after the guardian angels that watch over Ollie and warn of impending dangers. The third book, Listen for the Angels, begins in 1938 and covers a 20-year span.
Nancy Powell, the author, is a native of Arkansas. Nancy, retired after 29 years of service as Traffic Coordinator for the City of Fort Smith, and now resides on a farm near Fort Smith.