Today I welcome Paula R. Stiles on her blog tour to celebrate the launch of her book “The Mighty Quinn”. I enjoyed the manuscript..ahem…mightily when it landed in Dark Continents’ slush pile last year, and am proud to have had an editorial hand in bringing it to publication. Here’s an excerpt from the book, with a foreword from the author.
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One of the funnest [sic] parts of writing this novel was being able to use local folklore to the maximum. I grew up in Vermont and was living in Vancouver for much of when I wrote/revised “The Mighty Quinn” and there were all sorts of things that you could only learn if you lived there. The following excerpt is a prime example. I got it from reading a book by local folklorist, Joe Citro. One of the most interesting aspects of it is that a rather large portion of the Vermont population is of mixed Native American descent, so the people being discussed are hardly dead and gone.
Anderson insisted on driving me north, in a crappy green SUV. I wasn’t sure why, even once we got into a place she called “The Northeast Kingdom.” Then we turned off a little access road and started bumping down the dirt path. There were rocks all over the place and I had a crick in my neck by the time we got to the edge of the forest. It was like a friggin’ logging road in BC. She stopped the car, right there in the middle of nowhere. “We get out here,” she said.
I peered out at the woods around me. “That’s nice. Where is ‘here’?”
She smirked at me. “You never heard of Brunswick Springs?” she said, as if it were the most famous site in the world instead of a hole in the woods.
I looked at her and shrugged. “No, I’m not from around here. What is it, some kind of natural feature?”
She nodded. “Something like that. There are six springs here, each a different mineral type. People used to come for the waters. The Abenaki used to come all the time. Said it was sacred. But they’d never come after dark. They said bad spirits came out at night.”
As I stared out the window, I felt a chill. Out in Vancouver, we didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about haunted Native graveyards. If a First Nations group could claim ownership of one, they got it back. “You mean the local Natives?”
She gave me a funny look, the kind that said, You Canadians are weird people. “Of course I mean the local Indians. Who else would I mean?”
“So, what are we doing on their land?” It seemed obvious to me that we shouldn’t be there. It explained the coldness I felt when I looked out there, a feeling that we didn’t belong, that we were being watched.
“It’s sorta not really their land anymore. They just got enough control back to make sure nobody else can build on it.” She got out. “Anyway, don’t be such a wuss. You don’t believe a bunch of old Indian legends, do you?”
“Depends on what the old Indian legends say.”
She got out of the car and I reluctantly followed. “Well, for a start, they say that the springs heal, but that nobody will ever profit from them. They meant financially, of course. Something about a dispute that ended in some Indians’ deaths and one of the survivors cursed the waters.”
“Riiight. They heal; they kill. They’re blessed; they’re cursed. No reason for any of this to make any sense, or make up your mind what you want the legend to say or mean.” I found myself talking to myself as she ignored me and walked up the road. “Fair enough.” I trailed after her, spooked by what I saw on the edges of the road. Shadows that seemed to be at right angles to the sunlight, shadows that moved independently of the objects that threw them. We were definitely not welcome.
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About the author:
Paula is a forty-something medieval/Templar historian, writer of speculative fiction, Returned Peace Volunteer in warm-water aquaculture (Cameroon, ’91-’94), ex-EMT, recovered horse addict, swimmer, amateur astronomer, lover of all things prehistoric, cat-feeder, and compulsive grammarian. She is also currently the editor of Lovecraftian ‘zine Innsmouth Free Press. You can find her homepage at: http://thesnowleopard.net.
Purchase links for The Mighty Quinn:
Direct from the publisher