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Artbeat to Host Author for Reading and Book Signing

WAYNESBURG — Carol Cajigas may have been born and raised in Bellaire, Ohio, but she has a special affinity for Greene County.

Interested in her family history, Cajigas researched her genealogical background and stumbled across a man by the name of Teater Higgins, who turned out to be her ­great grandfather. She traced Higgins’ birth to Paw Paw, West Virginia, and learned that he later married a woman named Mary Wilkinson from Wheeling. Most importantly, old family accounts say he was buried somewhere in Waynesburg.

For someone who’d never been to Greene County, Cajigas was so intrigued with the story of her great grandfather that she wrote three novels based on a fictionalized version of his life and set them in Greene County, the place of his supposed burial.

“In my books, I mention the prison, golf courses, airport and the quarry,” said Cajigas, who made her first visit to Waynesburg last month and made another one in August. At 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, the author will return once more to autograph and read from her books at a book signing at the Artbeat Gallery, 52 E. High Street in Waynesburg.

The event is free and open to the public and copies of the author’s books will be available for purchase. Light refreshments will also be served.

Titled “Sensate Nine Moon Saga,” Cajigas’ trilogy centers around a race of people called Sensates, born with a recessive gene that allows them to exhibit extrasensory abilities and who live by a high moral code that requires them to guard their secret from those who would use their powers for nefarious purposes.

“The Sensates live an extended life span and quit aging around 35 years old,” said Cajigas, who now lives in Mohnton, Pa., just south of Reading. “The only way they can die is by accident or murder. The oldest still living is close to 600, but the first Sensate, an Iroquois named Onatah, lived to be 2,000 plus until she was killed by another Indian.”

Cajigas published “Larkspur,” the first book in the series in paperback and digital form on in November of 2011. The title comes from the name of a fictional house in Waynesburg that sits next to a hollowed out mountain in which the Sensates reside.

“I never wrote a series before, but after ‘Larkspur’ came out, people kept asking me about a character in the book named Ryeth. “I based and titled my second book in the series on him.”

The third book, “Heartseed,” takes its name from the vine that covers a massive stone arbor atop the mountain of the Sensate stronghold. Built by the great­-great grandfather Teater character for his beloved Nancy, the arbor supports the tangled vine, whose brown seeds hold an ivory colored heart.

The book reading will take approximately 20 minutes, followed by a question and answer session. At the reading/book signing, attendees who sign up for Cajigas’ newsletter will have a chance to win all three books in a boxed set held in a white tote bag with green trim and handle.

“My book covers are basically images of my characters,” she said. “They have a definite romance novel look, although my literary genre is fiction fantasy,” she said.

Attendees can purchase one, two or all three of the books at the reading. “Larkspur,” her 479 ­page novel sells for $12, while the other two (a little over 300 pages) sell for $10. All are full length works that can stand on their own. The author, however, suggests reading them in order for their back story and a sense of what the Sensates are trying to accomplish.

At the event, Cajigas will pass out complimentary book markers and cards with information about herself.

Since she’s visited Greene County, she’s learned that there is a Higgins Cemetery just northwest of Waynesburg, which she hopes to visit sometime soon to look for her ancestors’ graves. When she saw Greene County for the first time, she said she was impressed by the residents’ feeling of community, but did admit that the hills aren’t as lofty as the mountain in which she set her fictionalized Sensate home.

“I also like the way the people in Waynesburg are proud of their town,” she said. “And everyone has been so kind, open and willing to share.”

Jim Winegar of the Artbeat Gallery admits that the author seems to have taken literary license with some of the county’s geography, but that her characters are reminiscent of people he’s met in the area.“I’m now half way through her second book, and am not sure what direction the story will take,” he said. “But the plot is so compelling, I am almost forced to turn the pages to read on.”

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