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Local Author Talk and Book Reading

Local Author to Present Talk and Read From Her New Book at NCPL

Local author Susan Urbanek Linville will give a talk on the history of Spiritualism in New Castle and a reading from her new book, “Blessing for Agnes,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 at the library. Books will be available for $15 after the talk.

About the Author

Susan Urbanek Linville received a PhD in biology from the University of Dayton and has experience as an assistant editor for a science journal, university outreach coordinator, and museum assistant administrator. As a freelance writer, she has published short fiction, newspaper and magazine articles, non-fiction books, and was a script writer for Indiana University’s A Moment of Science podcast series. Her non-fiction books include an African memoir, Lawrence County’s Underground Railroad history, and New Castle historical neighborhood booklets.

Description of “Blessing from Agnes,” published by Big Sandy Press, 2023.

In 1956, when she was only four years old, Karen Heasley died on the operating table while having her tonsils removed. While she was dead, she traveled through a dark tunnel and felt a peace she hasn’t felt since. It would be 20 years until she discovered the work of Raymond Moody and understood she had had a near-death experience. It also explained why she was sensitive to the spirits around her.

Fifty years before Karen’s birth, in 1907, Lydia Marquette was the first medium to stand up for her rights to practice Spiritualism in New Castle, Pennsylvania. After suffering through a fortunetelling trial, she went on to help found a new religion in the flourishing steel town. She joined with the Johns family and Agnes Guthrie to become leaders who changed the culture of the city.

“Blessing From Agnes” is based on true events. It interweaves the struggles of the early Spiritualists and Karen’s efforts to remain “normal” in an old western Pennsylvania steel town. It follows her as she discovers her true calling and rids herself of the expectations of her community, church, and family, to become a Spiritualist medium. The fight is not always easy, but like the Spiritualists who lived in New Castle 100 years before, she is determined to succeed.

The event is free and open to the public.


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