How THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR Began

I always have a story going in my head. Sometimes it’s a one-time thing having to do with something I’ve read or heard about recently, but I have some old favorites that I’ll take out, dust off, and rework every once in a while. One of my old favorites concerned a girl who discovered a wounded enemy soldier and chose to help him.

Because the past is so present in the small Mississippi town where I lived, I found myself becoming an expert on the Civil War. Obviously, the issues that the South were espousing were not right, but that doesn’t make it any less heart-wrenching for those involved. The South still hasn’t entirely recovered from its effects. It was fought on our soil and often it was family against family. I have ancestors on both sides who fought. I read a great many letters and journals from that time period, and some of them were about relationships torn apart because of the war. Since STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD took place six years before the first shots of the war were fired, it seemed that the next book should take place during the war, in 1862.

It was my daughter Bethany who requested a book with voodoo in it, and my mother Carol who wanted it to be not just any voodoo practitioners, but some eerie ones with connections to an odd religion from the stars. And so the VanZeldts came into being. I pictured them as very beautiful, graceful, haughty, and mysterious. From there the connection to the “Ballad of Tam Lin” was obvious. Thomas, the captured Federal soldier would be the knight captured by the fairies in the Ballad, and the fairies were the VanZeldts—not tinkly, floaty Tinkerbell-type fairies, but shadowy and frightening.