and sharing thoughts
For every writer, a special book lurks behind the consciousness, insisting on attention. I had three that wouldn't leave me alone until they found their way into print.
A couple of decades ago, I met a Cajun man who told a story that wouldn't let me be. He was a Cathar, he said, descendant of ancestors who escaped the inquisition in the South of France and eventually ended up with the Cajun people of Louisiana. I knew then I had to write a story of a Cajun who knew a secret with the power to change the world.
I went to the South of France to learn about the Cathars. What I discovered transformed the way I looked at history, religion and the church. It took me almost twenty years to tell the story I needed to tell. I worked hard at my craft because my writing had to do justice to the characters who came alive when I heard their stories from living believers in a faith that gave the martyrs strength to face the inquisitor's fire.
The places where they lived and died, the memories they entrusted to a few who survived, the ruins that used to be castles and villages, and the faith that still survives among believers who still trust the path of Gnosis that leads to the eternal, and reveals the great truth of the ages.
While I struggled with In the Time of the Cathar Moon, Conjuror emerged from memories of a childhood filled with stories from my Cherokee family, the awe I felt for a grandfather who knew the old ways of his people, and a bluegrass playing father who did his best to understand. I lived again as a little girl, scared to death of the tales of a monstrous being who once threatened the survival of the world, and a little group of men who held it at bay. It was a proud day for me when Mercer University Press published Conjuror. In truth, while this book is fiction, filled with impossible events and mythical beings, it's probably as closes as I will ever come to writing an autobiography.
Twisted Hair and the People of One Fire, is the third book I absolutely had to write. I shed a lot of tears while I worked on it, brought on by memories of storytellers who are no longer with us , They cried when they related the stories of their people, and the pain they felt was real. They talked about the mother town where the wisdom keepers lived, and how it was lost long ago when strangers came and killed the people and took the land. They longed for the day when it would be discovered and returned to the tribe. I needed to capture the longing for that sacred place, and the one fire that burned on the mound to unite all the people. The holy man, Twisted Hair lives again in this book, bringing the stories and sacred ways that kept the people strong. The mother town is once again in the possession of the Eastern Band Cherokee people. I sat on the mound where the fire once burned and gave thanks that I could tell its story in this book. Twisted Hair and the People of One Fire is available on Amazon.com as an e-book and in paperback, revised and expanded from an earlier edition to include information that was not available at first printing.
I have other books. I write a lot, but these three are books I had to write. They lived in my heart until they found their way to the page.
I've been many things in my life and if I'm lucky I hope to become many more things before I leave the world. Today, I'm a priest, an author, a literary agent, and mentor among other things. This page will contain my thoughts and on any given day, it might reflect any of those identities.