Welcome Guest Strumpet Elaine Calloway! Her Tea of Choice: Strawberry Kiwi.
GRITS: Girls Raised in the South
Setting & Flavor Are Everything
By Elaine Calloway
My latest release, No Grits No Glory, is set in the deliciously-haunted city of Savannah, Georgia. Other than my native New Orleans, I don’t know of a better place to set a ghost story.
Setting is everything in a book. Can you imagine Gone With the Wind being set in Detroit? Or The Bridges of Madison County in Tokyo? Those would be two very different books from what the author intended.
If we play our cards right as writers, the setting becomes a character in itself. For me, this was so easy with an already eerie place like Savannah. Spanish moss drapes from old, scraggly oak trees like shawls on a crowd of witches. The cobblestone streets of the historic river area contain memories of pirates, shanghais, smuggling and all sorts of other eerie events that coincide with Savannah.
While I always choose a haunted inn (The Marshall House, it used to be a hospital used for Union soldiers) to stay at when I travel to Savannah, I’ve never seen any roaming ghosts there. However, I did cross a main thoroughfare one humid evening and a jolt of cold air shot from my shoulder to my arm. Suddenly all my hairs stood erect; my arm felt numb. I was certain someone–or something–had gently grabbed a hold of my arm as I crossed the street. Once I reached the other side, the coldness vanished and I regained feeling.
Was it a spirit of someone who’d longed died and needed help across the road? I like to think so, but that’s the beauty of ghost stories. I tried to keep No Grits No Glory as a spooky story with intrigue and action, but also with some humorous tidbits. I hope you enjoy!
Thank you, Elaine! And because she’s an awesome person, she’s given us a spooky sneak peak from her book.
Brianna fled to Savannah to escape the voices of the dead. Just when she thought she’d left all paranormal things behind, she discovers her house is haunted. Not just haunted, but haunted by Southern ghosts. These persistent beings not only hide her white shoes after Labor Day, but they leave grits-caked dishes in the sink, and swear to wreak havoc on her life – – unless she helps them.
Steven put Savannah in his rearview mirror years ago to follow his passion for music. When his band splits up and he can’t reach his little sister for weeks, he races home—only to learn his whole family died in a mysterious house fire. The house Brianna now lives in.
Together, Brianna and Steven learn who murdered Steven’s family and become caught in a web of intrigue that will risk their careers, their homes–but especially their lives.
The bitterest tears shed over graves are
for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
Brianna McNeil spent years talking to the dead, sharing secrets with those who passed through her family’s mortuary. But the day one talked back, everything changed.
It had happened on her fifteenth birthday, at Declan’s burial. If only her big brother had been the first to whisper from the grave, she might have handled things better. But no, the first voice was creepier—threatening, even—and without a body attached.
Her Irish clan stood around the grave, huddled together under umbrellas. Uncles sipped Jameson and spoke of Declan’s bravery. Aunts sobbed and held each other. Across the lush cemetery, Celtic crosses and winged cherubs loomed over gravestones, protecting the dead with their vigilant watch. Now they would protect Declan, her confidante and idol.
In the chilling drizzle, Brianna approached the coffin. An American flag cloaked the long box like gift wrap. Maybe the stars and stripes were supposed to be comforting. They weren’t. She didn’t need a hero. Just her big brother back.
Leaning over so no one could hear, she whispered, “Your life was cut short, but I’ll make a difference with the time I have left. I promise.”
Lightning crackled across the sky, followed by an ominous voice. “Be careful, Brianna. No one breaks a promise to the dead without retribution.”
If only she’d listened.