Guest post: David Fitz-Gerald, She Sees Ghosts

She Sees Ghosts―The Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls

Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series

Publisher: Outskirts Press

A blazing fire killed her family and devoured her home. A vengeful demon haunted her. Ghosts of the Revolutionary War needed help that only she could provide. A young woman languished, desperate to survive, and teetered on the edge of sanity.

Mehitable grew up in a freshly tamed town, carved from the primeval forest. Family, friends, and working at the mercantile filled her days and warmed her heart. For Mehitable, life was simple and safe, until tragedy struck. When her family perished in their burning home, she retreated into a world of her own making.

As a young girl, she had seen glimmers, glimpses, and flickers of the spirit world. She closed her eyes. She turned her back. She ignored the apparitions that she never spoke of, desperately hoping they would leave her in peace. She was mistaken.

Grief-stricken, Mehitable withdrew from the human world. Ghosts were everywhere. They became bolder. She could no longer turn her back on the spirit world. Her friends feared for her survival. Nobody understood her. She would have to find her own way.

Fans of TV’s Ghost Whisperer and Long Island Medium will especially love She Sees Ghosts. This historical novel features memorable characters and delivers bone-tingling, spine chilling goosebumps. It stands on its own and it is the next installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series by the award-winning author of Wanders Far―An Unlikely Hero’s Journey. David Fitz-Gerald delivers a historical novel with a bittersweet ending that you won’t see coming.

Would she save the spirits’ souls, or would they save her? Only time would tell.

Trailer Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_PA9P2b3Q0&feature=youtu.be

Buy Link: Amazon

Mehitable’s World

I like to write fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits, and I use that phrase like a mission statement. My Adirondack Spirit Series is an epic, multi-generational family saga. Each book stands alone. What they have in common are ancestry, the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, natural history, and supernatural tendencies that just seem to run in the family.

She Sees Ghosts is the story of Mehitable Munch, who turned sixteen on New Year’s Eve in 1799. She was born in one rural frontier town at the edge of the woods, in what is now Poultney, Vermont, and as an adult, she moved with her friends to another unsettled wilderness. Mehitable and her friends helped to establish what is now Wilmington, New York. Wilmington is a small Adirondack Mountain town, best known as the home of Whiteface Mountain, site of the alpine events for the 1980 Winter Olympics. Mehitable is as real as the voices in my head. Alternatively, many of the characters that surround Mehitable are real.

I live in the town of Poultney, and many of the buildings I wrote about are still standing, including Eagle Tavern and Union Academy. I get to drive by them every day. Walking down the dirt road known as Lewis Road isn’t unlike walking down that road 220 years ago, unless a car comes along. Andrea Mott, Vice President and Researcher for the Poultney Historical Society, told me about a local book, A History of the Town of Poultney, Vermont From its Settlement to the Year 1875. Most of the characters and locations in Poultney are real and historically accurate, and I wouldn’t have been able to include them if it weren’t for this book.

Wilmington, New York is my mother’s hometown, and I have been visiting the area since I was born. At times I have lived in neighboring communities. The Wilmington Historical Society’s book called Wilmington and the Whiteface Region tells a story about the town’s leading citizen at the time of its founding. Reuben Sanford, it says, was born in Connecticut. Through the magic of Ancestry.com, I discovered that Reuben Sanford’s family moved to Poultney, Vermont, after he was born and before he moved to Wilmington. Polly Lewis, his wife, was born and raised in Poultney. I was so excited to connect what I like to think of as my two hometowns.

I mentioned Ancestry.com. I found that you don’t have to be related to somebody to make their family tree on ancestry. Many of the stories I was able to tell came from names, dates, and citations on this platform. I loved being able to depict actual stories of real, everyday people in She Sees Ghosts. The Sanford Family, the Lewis Family, most of the residents of both towns, and almost all of the soldiers’ ghosts were real people. The names of my fictitious characters came from the census records and family trees at Ancestry.com. I love the unique, old fashioned names that you never hear anymore, names like Mehitable, Aurilla, Eliada, Azubah, and Ezra.

I like to collect postcards because they don’t take up too much room in the house. I find looking at pictures on postcards helps me describe locations in my books. One postcard from Poultney, Vermont, depicts an old stone building that was the site of Tommy Todd’s store. Tommy and his store became a part of She Sees Ghosts as a result. Another old Poultney postcard depicts a sow and a mass of suckling piglets. I wonder how many of those postcards got mailed by city folk on vacation.

To me, She Sees Ghosts is a historical novel first. I hope that readers will feel like they’re experiencing rural, frontier life in the early 1800s. There is a lot of history in the stories of the ghosts that Mehitable encounters. I focused on soldiers who suffered the horrors of captivity, died in action, or perished from diseases. Some of the books I read during my research phase included: Forgotten Patriots, by Edwin G. Burrows; The Battle of Hubbardton, by Bruce M. Venter; Ethan Allen & The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga by Richard B. Smith; and Ethan Allen, His Life and Times, by Willard Sterne Randall. As you will see, the ghost of Ethan Allen plays a unique role in my book.

The supernatural elements of She Sees Ghosts come from my imagination, I suppose. Some of the influences for those aspects of the book came from reading Flipside: A Tourist’s Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife and binge-watching every season and every episode of TV’s Ghost Whisperer. I love that show, and I am going to watch them all again someday. I also watched many episodes of Long Island Medium and read Theresa Caputo’s book, There’s More to Life Than This. Most of the ghosts in my book aren’t evil spirits, but there is an exception. My depiction of the evil spirit came from watching paranormal reality shows, and the last thing I’d ever want is to have a first-hand experience with an evil spirit. I hope I manage to scare the reader at least a little. This book isn’t meant to be shocking, nightmare-inducing horror, but rather goosebump-raising fiction that makes you wonder whether such things are possible.

I might also mention the food. It’s fair to say that people ate very differently 220 years ago. I have been meaning to make hardtack, which was a staple food for soldiers and wanderers. From what I’ve found, it doesn’t look like it will be hard to reenact making that. I enjoyed writing about the food people ate, especially desserts like Shoo-Fly Pie, Blueberry Buckle, and Apple Brown Betty. As part of my research, I downloaded A Revolutionary War Cookbook (and More) by CL Gammon. Despite the fact that donuts were known as “oil cakes,” I decided to call them donuts in She Sees Ghosts. Oil Cakes don’t sound tasty enough.

In my writing, I also like to portray natural history, especially since I’m writing about people who spend time in wilderness settings. Because I’m a hiker, I like to write about being on a path in the middle of the woods. I might spend too much time writing about trees and birds or how things are made. My editor has to keep an eye on me so that I won’t distract the reader with too much detail about distilling whiskey, how soap was made, how butter was churned in the old days, and other such details.

If you’re reading historical fiction, you probably enjoy getting lost in museums as much as I do. I love doing research at museums, and I am looking forward to getting back into them when they reopen. I think they provide rich material and inspiration for historical fiction. I’ve had the opportunity to visit and highly recommend the Adirondack Experience (formerly known as The Adirondack Museum on Blue Mountain Lake), The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, and Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, among others. Did you ever hear a songwriter say that a song wrote itself? Sometimes when I’m writing, a fictional character comes to me. When I’m asked, what inspired the character of Mehitable Munch, I’m hard-pressed to answer. She grew within my head as I was finishing the first book in my Adirondack Spirit Series. She revealed herself to me, shyly, a little bit at a time. I was trying to write the next installment, set immediately after the end of Wanders Far, but Mehitable forced me to set that story aside so that I could tell her story instead. I would claim that she is a fictional character, created within my imagination, but for a fictional character, she sure seemed to insist on telling the story that appears in She Sees Ghosts. I can’t prove her existence, but perhaps she isn’t fictional after all. Another member of this supernatural family is calling me now, and I can’t wait to finish telling his story too.

About David

David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing. She Sees Ghosts―A Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls is the next instalment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

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