The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “Tate’s Hell Swamp”

On location: Liberty County Florida

Traveling to the Florida Panhandle today.

These “On Location” posts show my rationale for choosing various place settings for my books. They’re not gospel! They might not even be viable rationale. But, I post them anyway as indirect tips for other writers to consider as they decide how to choose place settings for their stories.

I used Liberty County in my books Eulalie and Washerwoman, Conjure Woman’s Cat, The Land Between the Rivers, and Mountain Song. It’s Florida’s least populous county with easy access to the Apalachicola River, the forbidding Tate’s Hell Swamp, the Gulf Coast, and Florida’s “Garden of Eden” trail, along with many square miles of swamp land and forests.

Why I chose the county

  1. River Styx in Liberty County – Florida Memory Photo. Needless to say, place names like this one are made to order in a conjure book.

    I grew up in the adjacent Leon County (Tallahassee) and spent many hours of Boy Scout camping and family day trips at sites in or near the county. I was not only writing about what I know, but about a very diverse and unique landscape with rare trees, rare wildlife, and an environment that’s off the beaten trail of the kind of development and tourism found in the peninsula section of the state.

  2.  My two conjure woman books lent themselves to a small-town environment in the part of the state known as “wire grass country.” That is, it was more natural to place a conjure woman in a far-away piney woods part of the state than a more populous area. The area also had a variety of legends, remnants of Indian settlements and their recurring cultural influence, and a small-town, insular world view.
  3. My old friend, the late Gloria Jahoda wrote a book about this part of the state called The Other Florida. For my purposes of telling a magical realism story, I wanted an area that was about as “other” as one can find. Her book also included legends that I grew up with, making them a lot easier to refer to in the story than the legends of a place I’d never visited with legends that would have been quite foreign to me. To some extent, magical realism uses legends and tall tales about a place as though they are real. These not only add ambiance to the book, but give readers from Florida bits and pieces of information they’re already familiar with.
  4. Florida, in years past, had a very strong KKK presence, a presence more pervasive in outlying areas. Since both of my conjure woman books pit a woman of magic against the Klan, this made the location a viable and historically accurate place for such a story even though I created a fictionalized small town to avoid any hard feelings (or law suits) with the residents and governments of an actual town. I named my town Torreya, after Florida’s unique and highly endangered tree that grows in this area and nowhere else.
  5. While my conjure books were set in the 1950s, The Land Between the Rivers at the dawn of time, and  Mountain Song in the 1960s, the area–when compared with major tourist destinations and development–is still remote. This helps an author do research because many of the attributes of the place in years gone by still exist today.

I consider a story’s place setting to be a very integral part of the fiction I write. If you like strong place settings, perhaps you will go through some of the same thought processes as I did when you choose the country, state, or town for your novel or short story.

Malcolm

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Announcing ‘Mountain Song,’ a novel about first love and flawed childhood

Mountain Song is now available on Kindle. This companion novel to At Sea tells the story of two college students, one of whom lives “next door” to Montana’s shining mountains and one of who lives “next door” to Florida’s Tate’s Hell Swamp. They meet during a flood that sweeps away almost everything that matters.

mountainsongAmazon Description: David Ward lives in the Montana mountains where his life was impacted by his medicine woman grandmother and his utilitarian grandfather. Anne Hill suffered through childhood abuse and ultimately moved in with her aunt on the edge of a Florida swamp. Their summer romance at a mountain resort hotel surprises both of them. But can they make it last after the initial passion wears off and they return to their college studies far apart from each other especially after an attack on a college street changes Anne forever?

Campbell, who grew up in north Florida, worked as a seasonal employee at a Glacier National Park while in college. His mountain climbing and hiking experiences would influence his fiction years later when he wrote The Sun Singer and Sarabande. Now, Mountain Song combines his love of the Florida Panhandle, where he set Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman, with his love for the Rocky Mountains into a story of prospective loss haunted by the conflicting realities of disparate worlds.

Malcolm

 

 

‘Carrying Snakes Into Eden’ is FREE on January 11

My Kindle short story “Carrying Snakes Into Eden” will be free for one day on Monday, January 11, 2016.

Always free on Kindle Unlimited

Always free on Kindle Unlimited

Description: “In this tongue-in-cheek 1960s-era short story with a dash of magic, two students skip church, pick up a hobo with a sack of snakes, and realize there may be long-term consequences.”

Comment: “Stories from Tates Hell” is a series of tales set in an around the notorious swamp on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Also: You may also like the other stories in the series: “The Land Between the Rivers,” “Snakebit,” and “Dream of Crows.”

I hope the story puts a smile on your face.

–Malcolm

Dark and magical story ‘Snakebit’ released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing

Thomas-Jacob Publishing released my new Kindle short story “Snakebit” today, adding to my series of stories about Florida’s Tate’s Hell Swamp.

SnakebitCOVERThis dark, magical story focuses on two students in the 1960s who return to their respective colleges after a summer romance. Assaulted on a dark street at Thanksgiving, Anne resolves to find and rebuild herself anew with calling on David for help or even allowing a visit.

Finally, when he visits her in Florida in June, the finds her much changed. She is newly confidant and wishes to define her place in the world. David’s not so sure there’s room in her life for him unless he gives up everything else that he cares about. He considers leaving her until the swamp’s dark magic intervenes.

You may also like the Tate’s Hell stories “Carrying Snakes Into Eden” and the three-folktale collection The Land Between the Rivers.”

–Malcolm

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Saturday Sample: ‘The Seeker’

The Seeker, by Malcolm R. Campbell, Vanilla Heart Publishing – magical realism with fantasy elements, $3.99 on Kindle

SeekerFrom the Publisher: David Ward grows up on a Montana ranch where he develops an enduring love of mountains and the magic of the high country secrets he learns from his medicine woman grandmother. A vision quest at the summit of a sacred mountain opens his eyes to his future while blinding him to the details. As a seasonal employee at a mountain hotel, David meets Anne Hill during the summer of Glacier National Park’s worst flood.

Out of the ravages of water, they spend an idyllic summer in the beautiful Garden of Heaven. When Anne is confronted by a stalker on a dark street in her Florida college town, the magic David uses in an attempt to save her changes her and leads them into the dark territory of misunderstandings and the blood of Tate’s Hell Swamp.

Excerpt from the Novel

Píta dropped him like a frail aspen leaf upon a flat rock in the center of the prairie. A shroud of rain obscured the mountains and moved east. He stood, confused, favoring his left foot. When he saw Eagle suspended midway between the unnatural yellow sky and the unnatural yellow earth, he heard a faint call, high-pitched and strung tight across the chasm between clouds and prairie, then suddenly brilliant, enveloping and histaminic. What he heard in this wide lonely place was the clear, unmistakable voice of his grandmother, raised to the heavens in laughter on that long-ago day when Jayee shouted “holy shit” at a cow in the road in the great mountain’s shadow.

The novel's setting

The novel’s setting

If he could walk west, if he could walk west to the highway, following the laugh his grandmother laughed when the world intruded, (laughter is sanity’s last defense, she told him so often) the laugh he heard now like a true beacon due west and ten years back, the laugh for which she was rightfully proud, her great opus written for flute crying, coyote yapping, bulls rutting, if he could follow this laugh west, then to the highway, then south to the crossroads store and the phone on the far side of the storm, great cauldron of probabilities and worlds, then he would survive this, all of this, this, this. He took stock of himself and laughed. The burnished steel puddle at his feet flung back a tiny caricature of a man, half drawn, beneath the immenseness of all else. He was cold. He smelled bad, too, reminiscent of dog shit and goat piss. If this was shock, then he would make the most of it. In the stinging spray of the first rain drops, he leapt forward, laughing, onto his left foot, and it felt good, damn good.

With each step, he pulled strength out of the soil. He began to run, and in spite of his heavy climbing boots, he felt light and fine. This was effortless; he was in his prime. He danced around the edge of a dry gully; he was smiling and thinking he had it in him to run past the telephone at the crossroads store, past Babb and St. Mary, of course, that would be easy, and then over the continental divide at Marias Pass, after which it would be downhill all the way home to Alder Street and the buff-colored house with the white picket fence.

And then it was the horse.

Sikimí burst out of the rain. He was a terror, a daemon, that one, pulling storms. David’s strength rushed back into the stony earth like water from a flushed toilet. Those eyes—deep sweet rage—rose and fell, rose and fell, in ecstasy, in pain, synchronized with breath and muscled strides. There was no cover. He flung off his shirt, focused his tumbling thoughts with the pure tones of vowels, climbed naked bedrock between forks of a creek, felt a clean tension in his hands and forearms, felt Earth’s heat climb his legs, forced breath and a strident growl from his burning throat, and exploded into silver fire in the shape of a man.

The horse came on, without pause.

I hope you enjoy this novel. It stretches from the high country of northwestern Montana to the coastal swamps of the Florida Panhandle.

–Malcolm

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