West Point writer sets debut novel in hometown

October 13, 2012 11:47:28 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Even while she was a practicing registered dietitian, Claire Spradling felt she had the makings of a novel. When the West Point resident made the transition from nutrition to fiction, she was finally able to devote the necessary time and literary blood, sweat and tears to bring the story to the page. The result is "Duress," a faith-based suspense tale that combines psychotic crime, humor and family conflict. 


Setting the story in her hometown of West Point made the process all that more enjoyable.  


"It's a fictional tale, but it was fun to place it in West Point because I could picture it happening right here," said Spradling, who was always encouraged by her late mother's wish that "someone in the family would be a writer." 


Sites and names that will be familiar to area readers include the Prairie Arts Festival, Anthony's Restaurant, Bucky Kellogg and Kellogg's Hardware and Kid Town. 






The story builds around the character of Rastus Webber. His psychiatrist says he's schizophrenic; others think he's a psychopath. When Rastus is "rehabilitated" and comes home for his high school reunion, he wants to see Lottie, the only person who was ever kind to him. But Lottie has her own problems, including a greedy sister who doesn't care for her own children. 


"The book brings in family conflict and how people come together in the face of danger and emergency to work things out," Spradling explained. 


The title is inspired by an obscure incident that took place years ago. 


"I first got the idea when a security company representative came to do some repair work and I had the booklet out asking him questions," said Spradling. 


In the manual, she noticed a "duress code" and queried the

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.