Outside of the fictional Ebenezer Forest, on the side of a country highway, stands a sign that reads "Ebenezer Church" with an arrow pointing down a side road. But what lies down that road is more than just a Sunday sermon.
Following the sign is how Mark Mabry, the main character of local author Foster Sanders' new novel "Almost to Destin," begins an adventure through the fictional outskirts of Destin.
"Even though it referred to a church, the sign had powers of its own," Sanders told The Log. "Sometimes, the turn itself has powers of its own."
But it was a turn that never was that inspired Sanders, a retired Louisiana lawyer, to pen his first novel. Growing up, he often drove past a similar sign on Highway 67 between Baton Rouge, La., and Liberty, Miss. Though it intrigued him, he never turned down the road.
"I imagined, quite often, about what would be down that road, what kind of lives that people had that went to that church, where they came from and where their children went. That was a little fantasy I had in my mind as a younger man. I ultimately decided that would be a great fictional presentation, to see what happens when you turn down a road," Sanders said.
The story, which Sanders called a "romantic novel," tells the story of a young man falling for an older woman. It takes place mostly in a fictional area just outside of Destin, largely inspired by the Choctawhatchee River Basin.
Other elements and locations in and around Destin play a role in the novel, as well. Age, religion and other relationships provide conflict to the story, as the two lovers attempt to come together.
With a large portion of the nation's readership being middle-aged and older women, Sanders said that was his target audience for the novel. Though it is available now, he hopes to begin a major promotional push for the book in the spring.
"Almost to Destin" is available on amazon.com. Sanders will host a book signing at the Business to Business meeting at Tuscany Italian Bistro Jan. 8, where he will be the guest speaker.