|The Fox Sister's homestead site, photo c. 1985|
Dusty Waters is a ghost story, there is no doubt about that because I wrote it that way. I’m telling you this just so you’re not mislead to believe otherwise—it is a ghost story, but it isn’t the typical ghost story in the paranormal/supernatural genre that jumps out with a “Boo!” I wanted it to be more than that. Expect it to be different, leave behind all preconceptions of a ghost story when you enter this one. It is a ghost story, from a long line of the telling of ghost stories, which I adore, but I wrote it my way, to tell a story about a young woman, who possesses the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Her ancestral home is full of the spirits of her relatives who have not moved on for whatever reason, her sweetheart, who died too young, waits for her at their favorite meeting place—she grows older, he remains the same 17 year old boy who she loved with all her heart. As he tells her to live her life, he has sworn to wait for her. It is a book about life as much as it is about the dead, it is about the metaphorical ghosts that haunt her, haunt others, haunt all of us. The ghosts of our past are a natural element of the human condition—so you see, it is more than just a ghost story.
The book…the zygote of the book rolled around in my brain for many years, pieced together from bits of stories that I made up as a kid, part of a fascination with the supernatural, part of it fascination with some of the old houses on my street, (Lyons is an old town full of history), and part of it I wanted to write about someone on a life journey, one that is not finished yet. A woman alive and well among the living, and able to speak with the dead…one of the elements that I wanted to explore in this novel was how someone who can see and speak to spirits deals with that, is it a gift or is it a curse? I could only imagine that it is a burden and could have a negative impact on them...it's a character building ordeal, I'm sure.
With that said, let me give a little bit of the back story about the making of the book. The book cover, designed by my Fred, and conceived through photographs that I took at the Fox Sisters homestead site in Hydesville, New York, the birthplace of Spiritualism. I grew up in Lyons, New York, just a few miles away from this place and the idea of the rappings and séances inspired me. Many years ago, (over twenty) I went with my family to the old homestead and photographed the site as it was at that time; the cottage had been burned, vandalized, neglected and eventually torn down. When I heard that it was gone, I made certain to keep these photos safe thinking someday they’d be of use to me in a project (I was young and full of grand ideas at the time.) I wish I had more photos, but this was a time before digital cameras and 4GB memory disks, I had a roll of 24 shots and most of the roll was full of photos taken up at Sodus Bay...
|Doorway with birds nest|
|The burned door|
|Monument outside the house near the road|
There is no death, there are no dead…I’m so glad that I photographed the monument at the time…life is consciousness, the consciousness never dies, this is one of the beliefs of the spiritualist movement…I don’t align myself with any particular religion, but I am a spiritual person with my own beliefs about the way things are, and the idea of the body as a vessel of the soul is a very evocative belief for me.
|The cover design|
Once I decided to bite the bullet to publish independently, my Fred started to work on ideas for the cover, and I pulled out these old photographs of the Fox Sister’s homestead site. As soon as he presented the design to me, there was no turning back, the cover is its birthmark, it is home—every author can only hope to have the right cover for their book. I’ve heard so many authors complain how they hate their book’s cover—that must be heartbreaking, to put all that work into a novel and get to the publication part, only to have a cover that isn't what you imagined or clearly looks like the designer had no clue what the book was about. I love this cover…it is gorgeous. It means a great deal to me because of the place and time, and what it represents. It isn't a girly book...quite a tomboy.
Dusty Waters is a book steeped in history, lots of it made up history overlapping with history of a time and place, but it's a history created for this book...a book about a young woman, growing up in a small town, surrounded by the ghosts of the past...and she has a pooka named Lucy in the shape of a Chinese dragon living underneath her bed to block bad dreams.
"Around her quiet streets, voices seem to murmur the refrain, 'once upon a time.' Once upon a time, men who moulded the destinies of the frontier lived in the pillared brick colonial houses on the hills above the town. Later on, in Lyons's commercial heyday, other powerful men built the more ornate Victorian mansions under the stately trees. There, once upon a time, flowered an old regime, a gracious way of life, a social elegance, and cultural interest that was distinctively Lyons." - Arch Merrill, The Towpath
I could say more, but I will leave it here for now.
Dusty Waters is available in paperback original through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble (or just about anywhere you want to order the real deal paper books.) It is also available for Nook and Kindle for those who prefer e-reading.