Happy Monday, everyone! It’s a book birthday around Southern BelleView! I’m happy to share that my twenty-third novel, The Story Keeper, is officially hitting shelves today… right now… even as we speak!
This novel has a history unlike any other I’ve written, and I can’t wait to tell you about it, but first I’m thrilled to share that The Story Keeper has garnered a Southern Independent Booksellers Association OKRA Pick, a Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs selection, and an RT Bookreviews Top Pick!
The Story Keeper is a tale of two women living over one hundred years apart, yet bound together by a mystery. It’s book number two of the Carolina Chronicles and shares ties to The Prayer Box through a fascinating bit of history involving the mountains of North Carolina and the Outer Banks. In 2015, a third novel (which I just finished writing and sent off to the beta readers — thank heaven!) will wrap up the series.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let me share a bit of the mystery that inspired The Story Keeper…
The mystery begins in the deep mountains of Appalachia, over one-hundred years before America officially becomes a nation. In 1654, the first English explorers to push into the mountains of Virginia, Kentucky, and The Carolinas, report the strange discovery of “blue-eyed, reddish-brown complexioned,” people. The explorers are baffled by these “blue-eyed Indians,” who live in houses and use the Maltese cross as their sacred symbol. In 1673, Englishmen James Needham and Gabriel Arthur, traveling with several Native American guides, report meeting “Hairy people …. (who) have a bell which is six foot over which they ring morning and evening and at that time a great number of people congregate together and talks.” The dialect used by these “hairy, white people which have long beards and whiskers and weares clothing” is neither English nor any Native American language the guides recognize.
Who were these reclusive people? How did they come to be in the eastern mountains long before the first explorers arrived? To this day, no one really knows. As early as 1810, they enter the written record in the mountains of Arkansas, in documentation from Baxter County, The four men who had come with Mooney were men of Mystery, referred to by oldtimers who knew of them as “Lungeons.” They were neither Negro or Indian and in later years Jacob Mooney was ostracized for living with these “foreigners.” By the time he moved to Arkansas for good, his former slaves and the “lungeon” men had died and most of their families had moved west with the Indians.
After reading about the mystery of the Melungeons late one night, I fell asleep and literally dreamed a story. I saw the tale of a busy New York editor who finds an old manuscript. She’s captivated by the life of Sarra, a young Melungeon girl being sold off in a card game in turn-of-the-century Appalachia. The search for the manuscript’s author takes the editor on a journey to the heart of The Blue Ridge… and into the secrets of the past.
I’ve never “dreamed” a story before, and so writing The Story Keeper was a uniquely wonderful experience. It literally fascinated me. If you’ve never heard of the Melungeons (or even if you have), take a minute to Google the word. I think you’ll be as amazed by the history as I was!
To celebrate the release of The Story Keeper, we’re having a contest this week.
TO ENTER: Share The Story Keeper book cover or this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, your blog, or anyplace else online, then CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTRY FORM. Up to 5 entries possible per person. Thank you for helping to spread the word!
The Story Keeper an RT Bookreviews Magazine Top Pick!