Read the full review HERE on TWE Indie Reviews.
It feels great to get a 4-Star rating from someone who isn’t afraid to be brutally honest! All in all, Thomas’s review was positive, especially when he writes, “The structure was immaculate,” and “It was clear that she went to great lengths to make her world and characters as real as possible.” Oh, I did, and I’m so glad that this comes across. I’ll be posting more about my research for The Tramp, but first I want to address a complaint I’ve been noticing. I’m glad to have the chance.
Thomas was the second reviewer to feel as if there wasn’t enough supernatural in my story, since it was marketed that way. I will admit that the paranormal angle is delicately introduced in book one, because of the very realness that was so important to me while writing The Tramp. The last thing I wanted was for any part of my story to seem fake, or even unbelievable. But, hold tight, everybody! It’s there and it will become more and more…insidious with each book, or chronicle.
For example, take a look at this excerpt (SPOILER ALERT), in which one of the characters is being possessed:
Reeking sulfur from the Blue Spring guided Charlotte in the right direction.
“The only time I’ve been thankful for that smell.”
Her voice seemed too loud, the leaves crunching under her shoes as raucous as an alarm, and she slowed her pace, feeling the urge for stealth. A monotonous hum began to register in her ears. The tone flew to a higher pitch, like a wail, and then picked up the hum once again.
Not a bird chirped, not a bug buzzed, not a squirrel scurried. The woods were silent, except for the human voice coming from the direction of the spring. As she got closer to the sound, she sidled up next to the mountainside and slinked along as quietly as she could. The foul smell was overpowering.
She peeked around the side of a boulder, into the little inlet where the spring lay, and gasped at what she saw.
Her cousin was crouched at the edge of the water, naked. Guttural sounds were coming from his throat, his head fallen back at an impossible angle. She wondered if she should help him, but then his head snapped forward revealing a face twisted into a blind snarl, his eyes rolled back into his skull. The noises from his mouth coalesced into the unintelligible chant again.
Charlotte fell back behind the boulder, unable to watch. She tried to slow her breathing, wishing more than anything to remain unnoticed. What the hell is going on?
The sounds by the spring became more frantic and she risked a look. She had to see. At first, she thought Tyler was masturbating, bouncing up and down on his haunches, his hands hidden between his legs. But then he began to retch and a stream of something flowed out of his mouth. Or was it flowing into his mouth? Charlotte felt like she might be sick herself.
She pressed her lips with her fingers and slid back along the face of the overhanging cliff, promising herself not to look again. How fast could she get back to her car? What if Tyler heard her? She couldn’t risk that.
A crackling sound—like something electric—erupted around the bend. There was a flash of blue light from the rocky inlet. Then silence fell so loud it was deafening. As she knelt down in the dirt and tried to regain composure, her mind raced. What was that? After a few minutes, her curiosity overwhelmed her fear. She had to go back and see what was over there at that damned spring.
Charlotte listened, barely daring to breath. Gradually, sounds of normalcy resumed around her. An owl hooted. The crickets began to sing again. The wind picked up and rustled the branches overhead. Heavy boots scuffed through the underbrush and disappeared on the other side of the spring, and she knew Tyler was gone.
She emerged from her hiding spot and edged toward the spring. Had the smell of sulfur vanished, or was she just growing accustomed to it? The night was heavy and dark. She considered going back to the car for her cellphone light; that cold Blue Spring was creepy in the daylight, even on a normal day. But, as she got closer, she saw…there was nothing to see. A bird was drinking from the spring and took flight as she approached. She didn’t know what she expected, but there was only plain old rocks and water in front of her.
Thought the water was murky before. A weird blue. She shrugged. “Looks clear now. Maybe you just can’t see it in the dark.” She leaned over and saw her reflection looking back at her and dipped her finger into the pool to disrupt the mirror. The water wasn’t cold anymore.
The Blue Spring has a troubling history (based on actual history), and the spirit that was leached from it in this scene is a central part of the story arc. One of the many books I read in my research was Weird Tennessee, by Roger Manley. He writes about Eladwadiyi, the Cherokee term for “red earth place,” where a striking natural phenomenon occurs. “A deep and legendary spring, it emerges as an iridescent blue…and marks where the Cherokee desperately tried to negotiate their way out of the federal government’s plan to tear them away from their ancient lands and send them to Oklahoma. The Blue Hole–or Council Spring, as it is now sometimes known–was the beginning point of the Trail of Tears.”
Of course, Shirley County is fictitious and I never specify the state of Tennessee. The Native American tribe in The Tramp, the Sendalee, is also fictitious and I’ve certainly dramatized the spring. The paranormal activity activated by my characters in the book is from my own imagination, but it derived from my research and my research drove my writing in beginning phases.
In fact, the paranormal residue of ancient, indigenous peoples in Shirley County is the core of the whole series. I know I’m asking a lot of my readers to trust me in this, but it’s heartening that almost everyone has commented that they will surely read the next book in the series. Because by the end of The Bound Heart Chronicles (four books), I guarantee you’ll be believing that my version of the supernatural is just as real as the small town of Shirley and all the characters that live there.
I’m taking you on an epic journey, and you’re going to love that I didn’t rush you through!
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