M.L. Woods, a 1985 graduate of Afton High School, started her writing career as a creative outlet following the 2009 death of her father, Lonnie Linn.

AFTON – A battle between good vs. evil involving both the spiritual and physical world provides the setting for a northeast Oklahoma author's first Christian horror novel.

The work, House of Lister, is actually author M.L. (Missy) Woods' second published work. Her second book, Savage Miracle, was completed and published while she worked to polish House of Lister.

On Saturday, Jan. 13, Woods, an Afton native who now resides in Bluejacket, will sign copies of House of Lister at a come-and-go event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Monkey's Uncle Cafe, located at the corner of Highway 125/Highway 85, commonly known as Littlefield's Corner, in Bernice.

About the author

Woods, a 1985 graduate of Afton High School, started her writing career as a creative outlet following the 2009 death of her father, Lonnie Linn.

Woods said she finished House of Lister in 2010, but spent the next few years "fine tuning" it while working on her second novel, Savage Miracle.

"Although House of Lister is my second published novel, it was the first novel I ever wrote," Woods said. "A writer starts by writing what they know. The original manuscript/draft was written in 2010.

"At that time, I was a toll collector for the Will Rogers Turnpike. Because of the way God uses this character in this novel, it fit and well. Overall it demonstrates how what seems to be most insignificant, God can and does use to carry out his plan."

While House of Lister is a Christian-based horror novel, Savage Miracle dips into the Christian-based paranormal world.

In August, House of Lister was picked up by eLectio Publishing, a Texas-based publishing house. It is now available in both print and e-edition formats.

About the book

In House of Lister, the main character, Megan Brewster finds herself a "human player in a manifested spiritual battle."

Woods said the plot revolves around Brewster, who after the death of her minister father, and end of her marriage, believes her life is over.

The toll collector at the Claremore I-44 exit takes a vacation to "salve her heartache" and finds herself in a battle "that is dependent upon the prayer of the saints within her family."

"Failure is not an option," Woods said. "Failure means literally becoming the human sacrifice on the altar of her family's spiritual enemy."

Woods said the struggle, which plays out throughout the manuscript focuses on how a "battle which has raged for centuries" within their family, leaves them dependent upon the "continued intercession of the saints within the family."

"This book deals with issues such as marriage, divorce, infidelity, and remarriage," Woods said. "There is an entire generation alive now that was taught if you marry, divorce, and remarry you are sinning, and many believe their use in God's work is over if they did.

"This book will hopefully show that God is looking to use those that are willing to be used in spite of circumstances."

Ultimately, Woods said she hopes readers take away the knowledge, that although they may not know what God's plan is for their life, greater things are at work.

"If you keep your faith/trust securely in him, his ways are higher than our ways," Woods said. "He knows the plans he has for us. No matter what--and this is the most important and what I hope people take from this book--you must know God's voice and know his direction."

She likens the struggle to follow God's voice to the biblical story of Esther.

"If Esther had simply followed tradition and done only what she had been taught was right, she never would have become queen and put in a position to save her people," Woods said. "God still is looking for people in this generation that hears his voice and is willing to do what he instructs, in spite of what traditional religion has taught them.

"God can do all things, our job is to trust him and lean not to our own understanding."

Woods hopes readers also take away the message concerning the power of prayer in everyday life.

Woods hopes readers will not be put off by the horror aspect of her novel.

"While I was writing the House of Lister, I didn't know anything about genre's in Christian fiction, I thought a work was either Christian or it was secular," Woods said. "However, in the evangelical faith we are taught there is a heaven, there is a hell.

"This book is two stories in one. It shows the human participants living everyday normal lives, while also showing the battle strategy in the spiritual realm of both the angelic and demonic forces. That's why Christian horror. It's written in the style of a Frank Peretti novel."

Woods said her favorite character is one of her minor characters, a butler named Oscar, who resides in the villa.

The book centers on life in northeast Oklahoma, with parts of Afton, Claremore and Picher in it.

"The book doesn't stay in Oklahoma but that's where the main characters foundation is," Woods said. "In this area we always think nothing big ever happens. Whenever someone in the rest of the world is thinking about America, they don't think Afton or Claremore. That was the point of using my home area.