Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Liar’s Tour of Savannah

The beautiful Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist of Savannah
 (no lie, the inside is even more beautiful than the exterior)

Only 5 days until The Source, book two of the Witching Savannah series debuts. To celebrate, here's another look at what went into the creation of Mercy's world.

A lot of people have asked me about Mercy’s Liar’s Tour, and how I got the idea for it. The first thing you have to know is that I hadn’t originally intended to set The Line in Savannah. (Yeah, I know. Right?) I had planned on creating a fictional setting (Taylors Ferry, GA), but my setting had no pulse. I worked through five or six rewrites of the first one-hundred or so pages, before I finally acknowledged to myself that Taylors Ferry had flat lined. (Pun not intended, unless you were amused by it. Then it was intended.)

 As I struggled to breathe life into my fictional setting , I kept feeling my heart (and imagination) pulled to Savannah. I had first become acquainted with Savannah through Margaret Wayt Debolt’s Savannah Spectres and Other Strange Tales and later John Berendt’s worldwide bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Actually the fact that Savannah was already so associated with “the book” nearly discouraged me from using the city as a setting. But what can I say? I felt Savannah calling me. Seriously. Both my heart and mind felt a tug that neither could resist. Still, I had never even set foot there.

I grew up in the southeast, my family at one time having lived as close to Savannah as Macon, but all I knew of Savannah at that point came from books and internet articles. Still, I listened to my gut and committed to the idea of setting The Line in Savannah anyway. It was time for some boots on the ground research. A lot of my first trip to Savannah was spent walking around on 98 degree days, when the humidity was like 2000%. Still, Savannah captivated me.

I love tours (especially walking tours)—I honestly would take a walking tour of my own house if someone were to offer one. I ended doing heaven only knows how many tours that first week, scribbling in my notepad and making some of the guides very, yet unnecessarily, nervous. After a few days, I had heard just about every tale they had to offer, many of them variations on the same stories. I started thinking how the locals must tire of hearing these same tales every time they pass by one of the tours.  I imagined a twelve year old Mercy rolling her eyes and mimicking the guides. I felt Mercy respond to that idea.

Then magic happened. I had the good fortune of going out with a new guide. The tour I went on with him was only his second unchaperoned (by a more experienced guide) outing. He was charming and a good storyteller. But then he messed up. He got confused and began telling a story associated with a property clean across town about the home we were standing before. I knew the story (and its setting) well. He was about two sentences in when I saw panic reach his eyes. He knew he had flubbed. I knew he had flubbed. None of the other folk on the tour knew he had flubbed. He committed to it, and carried on. There was no way I was going to ruin his day and their tour by pointing out his mistake. Still, I began thinking that these guides could be making up things left and right, and people would be none the wiser.

Then I had a flash of that same young Mercy, leading tourists around by the nose and making up the wildest stories she could sell them. I loved it. Mercy loved it. And that’s how the Liar’s Tour came to be.