Here’s the new cover just in time for Halloween!
Here’s the new cover just in time for Halloween!
This is the Semper Augustus, a remarkable tulip of the 17th Century which fueled the world’s first love for the exotic and magical bulb. My recent visit to the Keukenhof gardens indicates flower lovers still lust after its charm. So do I.
Several years ago, I got caught up in the story of the tulip. Way back in 1554, an ambassador to Turkey sent some bulbs and seeds back home. These found their way into Vienna and then into the Low Counties. It took the careful work of Carolus Clusius (a botanist at the University of Leiden) to cultivate and catalog those bulbs that could tolerate the local conditions and soon tulips were popular. Newly independent Holland had a unique flower and it soon became a luxury item. More and more fantastic species were developed. The most sought after tulips actually suffered from a virus that broke the colors into streaks. Eventually, a whole speculative trade came into existence in which people who bought the bulbs never saw them and never possessed them. Tulip fever reached its height in the winter of 1636 when a single bulb might be traded as many as ten times in a day. Then abruptly in February, there came a day when traders just stayed home. The bubble had burst. Fortunes had been made and lost.
This is the background I used to create a YA ghost story. The manuscript has come within a hair’s width of publication four times with different publishers. My own gamble and bust market. Eventually, I do think this manuscript will come into the world, but until then enjoy some photos of the tulips that fueled, Tender Tulips, Dark Diamonds: A Ghost Story. The flowers of the Keukenhof are breathtaking and short-lived.
Author Maighread MacKay talks about her novel, Stone Cottage.
I just finished Maighread MacKay’s fabulous novel, Stone Cottage. I believe it falls in the category of Visionary Fiction. It is a classic ghost story, but so much more. Tragedy rocks Rebecca Wainwright’s world. Searching for a private sanctuary she finds a stone cottage that draws her back to another time. The novel explores how we construct our reality, wounding and potential healing, and how our life connections transcend time and place. I’m happy Maighread agreed to discuss her work.
I’m interested in your writing process for Stone Cottage. Did you construct the modern story with Rebecca first or did you first create Annie’s (the ghost) story?
I am a “pantser” more than a “plotter”, so I had the main characters in my mind and worked on them simultaneously. The first draft of the story was done in three sections: Rebecca’s Story, Annie’s Story and Together. When I showed it to my editor, she felt that the story really started in the third section and advised that I restructure the novel starting with where Rebecca finds Stone Cottage and meets Annie and then integrating the back story. Whew. Major rewrite, but it did work better.
What sort of research did you do for the novel? I suspect your own spirituality and/or experience came into play for the parts of the book that examine life after death. Can you share some background on this?
The research was quite extensive. Since Annie’s story is set in Whitby (Canada) and the surrounding area in the mid 1800’s, I visited our local Pioneer Village which is set in the time period. I was able to see the housing setup, clothing and utensils used at the time. The Director was kind enough to let me spend time viewing their records and correspondence from the time period. I also visited the Archives of the main library and reviewed letters, newspaper articles, family records and other important documents of the area. I also searched online for important information such as when the railroad was extended from Toronto to Whitby, and what road was used to transport goods from Port Perry to the harbor. It was fascinating. For the spiritual side, yes, a lot of the experiences of my life’s search came into play, such as the clearing of the land or house for negative energy. I also spoke with a Medium, who sees and smells ghosts and I had a past life regression session specifically for the book so that I would get the tone for that scene correctly.
Do you feel there’s a growing demand for books (like yours) that bring up questions about the nature of reality and move it more into the mainstream?
Yes. All life is energy and while at this time on our planet there is a great deal of negative energy, there is also an abundance of positive energy and new discoveries. Research in the areas of quantum physics, parallel universes, the changes in water when spoken to in a harsh or loving manner, how we are literally all connected – these and more are opening people’s eyes to the wondrous lives we live and new and exciting ways to view our existence on this planet. Even schools recognizing the benefits of meditation and incorporating it into the curriculum is moving spirituality into the mainstream. This would never have happened in my childhood. It’s very exciting. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
What would you like readers to take away from experiencing Stone Cottage?
Whether or not they agree or disagree with the principles in the story, I hope they like it. I do hope, though, that it will make the readers think, “Huh, never thought of life like that.” What I have written is not a definitive look at what life is all about, but rather, a concept that might or could happen. I hope it will help readers to reassess their paradigm of life and death, and look at other possibilities that could be at play. In my own experience, a lot of what I was taught was handed down from generation to generation and I just accepted it as truth. Perhaps it is truth for another, and that’s perfectly fine, but I needed to explore my life’s purpose from different angles to find out what my own truth was and what sat right with me. The whole concept of God, existence, birth, life, death and beyond is so much bigger and more than we’ve been taught and exploring new ideas about them is fascinating to me.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a mystery with the working title of “Murder at Mother’s”. It is from the point of view of the deceased’s ghost (you can tell I like ghost stories.). Again, I am at the research stage and have several chapters done, but there is still quite away to go. It will have a spiritual component, but again I want the readers to enjoy the story and have that satisfying feeling you get at the end of a good read. I am an avid reader as well as a writer and enjoy nothing more than a good book.
Thanks, Maighread for visiting with us today! For more information about her work, please visit her website and social media platforms.