Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIII, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Alumnus Writes Psychological Thriller about Local Cemetery

An abandoned road not far from Whitman leads to an old graveyard with chipping headstones and weeds as old as the bodies they grow over. At night the moon barely illuminates the grass where Whitman alumnus Stanley Wilson ’66 sat with his date on the night they saw a drunken Walla Walla citizen get pushed into an empty grave.

Stubblefield Cemetery isn’t just where Wilson saw an unfortunate incident –– Walla Walla legend says that the graveyard is haunted. According to anonymous post on si-web.com, Walla Wallans in the 1800s killed accused witches in the cemetery, which has been haunted since.

This local lore inspired the setting for Wilson’s psychological thriller, “Stubblefield,” in which Walla Wallans say that multiple gravediggers were mysteriously buried alive years ago.

The story describes two young adults’ run-in with a predatory police officer at Stubblefield Cemetery. Wilson’s experiences at Whitman, including his memory from Stubblefield as a first-year, are incorporated into his novel to create an engrossing tale of two lovers in Walla Walla trying to escape their law-breaking past.

The book begins with a chess-prodigy Whitman student Bryan and his Walla Wallan girlfriend Lydia who decide to drive out to the abandoned Stubblefield Cemetery amidst stretches of wheat fields. Here they encounter a dangerously corrupt police officer and make a decision that launches them into a daring game with the law.

Wilson’s time as a Whitman student wasn’t the only experience he drew on for his book. His own disconcerting experience with three police officers who threatened to kill him was the real inspiration for the plot of “Stubblefield.”

Wilson preceded his account with his sincere respect for law enforcement, but he believes that corruption is possible everywhere.

“Three police officers had threatened to kill me for no good reason other than the fact that I [was] a ’60s hippie with long hair. They took us out to the woods … I felt terrified and helpless,” he said.

But despite the heavy, suspenseful nature of his book, Wilson says it’s really a love story.

“My favorite part  [of writing the book] was the development of the love relationship between these two,” said Wilson.

Because they were both abandoned by their mothers in childhood, Bryan and Lydia simultaneously fear and long for intimacy.

“So they fall very much in love,” said Wilson.

Their incident with the officer in the graveyard pits these two insecure teenagers into a troublesome future that tests their relationship.

“It’s not a ‘who done it,'” said Wilson. “They have to kill him [the officer]. The question is: Are they and should they get caught and how is it going to affect their relationship?”

Although Wilson was a psychology major, he credits his time at Whitman for his ability to write. His background and experience as a psychologist also helped him develop the format for “Stubblefield.”

“Being a psychologist, I’m used to listening to people,” said Wilson.

Thus, the story within “Stubblefield” is told entirely as a flashback from Bryan’s point of view, and he regales his experiences to his friends many years later. Wilson wrote from the first person to connect the reader with Bryan’s emotional development.

“By writing in the first person, I think that it’s easier for the reader to identify with Bryan’s desperation and insecurities,” said Wilson.

Consequentially, Wilson said readers tell him they enjoy the story line and character development so much so that “Stubblefield” actually has a five-star rating on Amazon.com. And what’s more, Wilson is in the process of developing “Stubblefield” into a screenplay, something he hasn’t done before.

“Someone said to me, ‘Stan, this would make a great movie.’ So I said, ‘You know, this really would,'” said Wilson.

Whether or not it becomes a film, Wilson’s successful Walla Walla-based thriller gives life to the cemetery amongst the wheat fields.

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