There are a few places where, for me, the veil between the real and surreal blurs. And its almost always outdoors. This month, I’m out of a very hot, humid New York City and vacationing in New England. Being here conjures memories of lazy days in my favorite haunts, which lead me to more story ideas.
I once sailed out of Camden, Maine for a four day Windjammer cruise–no electricity, no running water, a marine “head” that you have to pump to flush. I had to help hoist the sails, drop the sheets, and even got to sit next to the captain at the tiller. The Windjammer I sailed on dated from the late 1870s, so it was easy to imagine it was the 19th Century. And perhaps because I grew up on and around sailboats, the sensation of walking the decks early in the morning or late at night, alone, seemed familiar, like I’d been there, done that. Those experiences helped me write The Journey-a love story with an action/adventure plot featuring a witch and a sailor just before the Civil War.
This year, we took a two-hour cruise out of Provincetown, Massachusetts, on the Kalmar Nyckel, a three masted (with three crow’s nests) replica of a 1625 Dutch Pinnace. I again got to help hoist the sails of my imagination and time travel back to the days of the pirates. That was topped off by a visit to the Pirate Museum at P-town’s Macmillan Wharf, where artifacts from the slave ship/pirate vessel of Black Sam Bellamy, Captain of the Wyhdah, are on display. Blackbeard was one of Bellamy’s apprentices and the displays are appropriately creepy enough to have lit a spark for me to write a pirate yarn—with a female captain, of course.
Provincetown, as many towns on Cape Cod, was colonized in the 1600s, and a ghost tour of the labyrinthine streets lined with quaint historic inns, taverns, and haunted mansions was the perfect ending to the night. I’ve never been afraid of ghosts, and maybe that’s why they allow me to feel their presence in such a real way. We weren’t disappointed, and photographed an orb over a gravesite in one of P-town’s five cemeteries, and noted a lot of electromagnetic activity on a cool (free) application Paranormal States.
So, that’s a glimpse of how the mind of a paranormal author works—and how I do my research. It might be my imagination that allows me to conjure the images, emotions, characters and eventually the plots that go alone with them, but outdoors, on the sea, on the shore, in the woods, and on the mountains where nature is in her full glory-both beautiful and terrible, the boundary between the real and surreal, between the natural and supernatural, between the worlds, time blurs, morphs, expands and contracts, trapping me in a very special place. One I hate to leave.
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