Southern Novelist At Heart

Often I feel I’ve channeled the Black Mountain characters from several of my eccentric relatives from long ago. I was born in Georgia and left before I was a year old. I didn’t return for good until I was ten. That’s when my mother brought my brother and me back to live with my grandmother. It was then I began to absorb both the wonderful and eerie tales told by my extended family. One of the first stories I heard upon arrival at my grandmother’s home was about a fighter pilot—an air force base was nearby—had recently crashed into the house down the street. The eighty-year old home was owned by two old maid sisters: one who had spent her life in a wheelchair and the other caring for her. The whole street ran to watch the fire. Some claim to have seen the pilot in the front seat of the jet trying to get out. Others claim to have heard one of the sisters screaming. The only survivor was the sister in the wheelchair. If that’s not the stuff that makes a storyteller, I don’t know what is. This atmosphere of tall tales, spells, and spirits gave birth to Black Mountain. I didn’t have a name for the community back then, but I spent many hours writing and forcing my little brother to listen to my stories of ghosts and goblins. Ah, but children do grow up. Or do they?

The fictional community of Black Mountain finally got its name while I was flipping hamburgers in my kitchen one night in the spring of 2004.

Mama warned me against marrying HobbsPritchard. She saw the future in her tealeaves, death.

These two sentences shot through my mind in a strong southern voice that was not my own. Nellie Pritchard was alive and begging to tell her story, And so it was to be. Not only did she appear with much to say, but several different characters lined up to tell their tales and inherently tell more about Nellie in the process. Many short stories later a novel appeared: Ghost On Black Mountain.

As some of the old folks on Black Mountain would say: ‘The mountain is alive as me or you. If you listen, you can hear her breath. You can feel her moan. Once you get her in your blood, they’re ain’t no leaving. No matter how far you go it’s the only home you’ll ever know.’

Good reading. Ann


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