Successful New York editor, Jen Gibbs, is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing -- until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk. Turning the pages, Jen finds herself drawn into the life of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men in the turn of the century Appalachia. A risky hunch may lead to The Story Keeper's hidden origins and its unknown author, but when the trail turns toward the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place Jen thought she'd left behind forever, the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she's willing to pay.
Q & A with Lisa Wingate
Your stories so often involve fascinating bits of history. Can you tell us about the inspiration for The Sea Keeper's Daughters?
I never know where my stories will come from. While working on my first Carolina book, set on the Outer Banks, I became fascinated with the mystery of the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island. you can't spend time on the Carolina Coast without realizing that theories abound as to the fate of the 117 people who vanished from Sir Walter Raleigh's ill-fated colony over thirty years before the Pilgrims would land on Plymouth Rock.
While writing my second Carolina book, The Story Keeper, I delved into the mystery of what early explorers deemed to be "blue-eyed Indians," who were found to have been living in the Appalachian mountains decades before other Europeans pressed in. I knew that the third Carolina book would somehow bring these two fascinating bits of history together. An interesting thing happened when The Story Keeper hit the bookstores. Because the novel is about the discovery of an untold story, readers began sharing their own family stories with me.
One reader mentioned that she'd traveled through the mountains many times as a child and one day had noticed that there were doors in the mountainside. When she asked about the doors, her father told her that during the Depression, families who lost their farms or had no place to live would often move into a nearby cave. Many salvaged doors, windows, and furniture from their repossessed homes before leaving and used those to outfit their new cave houses. I couldn't resist researching that tale, but I found very little about Americans living in caves during the Depression.
What I did come across were life history interviews written by participants in a little-known WPA program called the Federal Writers' Project. The Project hired impoverished writers, academics, housewives, and reporters, then turned them into Field Interviewers whose jobs were to travel the hidden corners of America and record the stories of the common man. The adventures of these Federal Writers were equally as fascinating as the narratives and stories they discovered during their travels.
What might a modern woman discover, I wondered, if she were to happen to find the long-hidden missives of a relative who had left behind her wealthy family to become a Federal Writer? Could she possibly discover, among mountain stories handed down by oral tradition, not only her own family history, but a clue to one of America's oldest mysteries?
The Appalachian setting is a character of its own in the book. Why did you set the historical portion of the book there?
Appalachia is a place where the air fairly whispers with stories. So much of the world has become too fast-paced these days, too busy for sitting and listening, too preoccupied with the future to devote effort to retelling the past. But in Appalachian culture, there's still a reverence for it.
Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of twenty-five novels. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol Award nominee, a multiple Christy Award nominee, a twotime Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RT Booklovers Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Award Winner for mystery/suspense. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.” More information about her novels can be found at www.lisawingate.com.
More about Lisa can be found on herFacebook page or WEBSITE
She can also be found online at:https://twitter.com/lisawingate https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/178832.Lisa_Wingate
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