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Mary Elizabeth Blume Stead is flying across the Atlantic Ocean to share her debut children’s novel, “Katie Watson and the Painter’s Plot,” with the school that nurtured her love of literature: Prince Avenue Christian School.

Stead was PACS valedictorian in 2006. She graduated from the University of Georgia, where she studied romance languages and art history. A study abroad program at the University of Oxford led her to a graduate program at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she obtained a master of arts in gothic cathedrals.

Taking up children’s work at St. John’s Downshire Hill, Stead met her husband, Gordon, and became a full-time writer in the UK. Her pen name is Mez Blume.

On her spring book tour, Stead will visit PACS on March 26. She’ll only be in the United States for 10 days with stops at the Oconee County Library and area bookstores. Stead will return to the states in October to promote her next book. To sign up for Stead’s newsletter, visit mezblume.com.

Her book, “Katie Watson and the Painter’s Plot,” will be placed in the PACS library and on the school’s summer reading list. 

Authors who have inspired Stead include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald and Jane Austen, all of whom are Christians.

“The idea that I can use my gifts to write stories that point people to truth inspires me more than anything” Stead told Prince Avenue Christian School Marketing Assistant Amy Frierson. “Once you start looking, listening and asking questions, stories are absolutely falling from the sky. The idea for ‘Katie Watson and the Painter’s Plot’ came from a visit to an Elizabethan manor house near where my husband grew up. It is so full of mystery and history; I couldn’t resist putting it into a story.”

Stead said she also draws inspiration from traveling.

“No matter where I am—on a walk in the woods or off to India—I am always on the lookout for the next story idea,” she said. “My years at PACS were so special. I’m indebted to so many wonderful teachers who inspired and encouraged me, both spiritually and academically.”

One person who stood out, she said, is her fourth grade teacher, Linda Gore, who let students borrow books from her personal collection, read “The Chronicles of Narnia” aloud and screened “Anne of Green Gables” during lunch period. Stead’s drama teacher, Candy Todd, helped her develop confidence.

Stead will share some of her own sage wisdom with PACS students this month.

“Every good author is also a good reader,” she told Frierson in an interview. “You learn how to write by reading and emulating the authors you love. When I was a student at PACS, my friend, Marissa Stocks, and I would write stories and share them with one another. Creativity is hard work, but it’s also a gift God has given us to enjoy.”  

“Katie Watson and the Painter’s Plot,” she said, has action, mystery and history, but it’s also about the power of friendship to inspire true bravery.

For more on this story, see the March 22 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.

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