By Vickie Carroll
I've always been interested in "the other"--the things, people, and places, just slightly out of the ordinary. My grandmother used to say, "She’s just one step up and to the side" when referring to her cousin, who she claimed was a bit fey. I like people who are a bit fey but that could be because I am one. This is all part of what led me to write my book, The Witches of Half-Moon Island.
I was ten when I discovered two gravestones on the property connecting our land with the neighbors. A husband and wife had rested there for over eighty year before I stumbled upon them. I amused myself for years wondering about that couple--what they looked like, where they had lived on the land and how did they die? Did I walk over land they had walked on? I wanted to push back that veil and step back in time to see for myself. Writers file away these incidents in that special brain-drawer and they floats to the surface when needed. Okay, maybe we are a little fey. I hasten to add I'm using the definition of fey as whimsical, other worldly and mysterious, not the Scots and British slant...being in high spirits preceding death. Though I've seen that with my own eyes too. That's another story.
Some years ago I lived in Charleston, South Carolina for about six months. It's a town so steeped in history and romance that one must be devoid of imagination to resist its charm and not feel and hear the spirit of the place. I fell in love with Charleston for the same reasons that I love Savannah. I was and still am, enchanted by all those outer islands from Charleston to Savannah that sit out there in the ocean, near but apart, kind of the same but different. While my friends wondered about the people lucky enough to live on those islands in the present, I wondered about those who had settled there long ago. That wondering led me to my book.
My imagination allowed me access to a mythical island off the coast of Savannah. I populated the island with Native Americans who were struggling to control their rogue medicine man who was getting too acquainted with the dark arts. I added a community of witches who had escaped persecution in England. Yes, I was asking for trouble. The medicine man's fear and hatred of the witches became so strong (you'll have to read my book to find out why) that as he lay dying he cursed the witches and their descendants yet to be and vowed to return and destroy them.
When the story picks up in modern day we find the witches, all but one, have let their powers go stale as they tried to fit in with modern times and the people who had come to the island over the years. It is up to this modern day group of women to contend with the spirit of this medicine man when he returns. The fight for their island and their very lives, brings a family back together, and brings Anna, my main character, some enormous challenges.
I've been asked several times why I wrote about these people and this place. I never know exactly where an idea comes from but suddenly it is there in my head. I wrote about these people dealing with age-old themes but overlaid with a touch of magic. At its core it's about how much we will sacrifice for those we love; good versus evil; and the destructive power of hate. Every person and every generation deals with these same themes. I will continue to write magical realism in some form because I can't help trying to peek behind that veil. Something is always there for us to find.