by: Lindsey Brackett
When I started writing Still Waters, I knew two things: Edisto Beach would be the setting and my late maternal grandmother would inspire a character. Much of the novel contains tidbits of true Edisto history, as well as scenarios connected to my family’s history.
Years ago, my mama offhandedly told me the story of how my grandparents met. My grandmother, Alice, had gotten herself lost driving around the back country roads of Colleton County in Lowcountry South Carolina. My granddaddy, Travis Malcolm (she called him Tom), had just come home from the war and he became a Forester with the South Carolina Forestry Commission. He was out planting when she stopped and asked for directions back to Walterboro. The rest, as they say, is history.
Walterboro, South Carolina is where they eventually made their final home. A short drive down the highway is Edisto Beach, where they spent weeks in the late summer after finishing the tobacco harvest.
Years ago, after they cleaned out the house, my mother and her sister came across bundles of letters. Written by my grandmother to her mother, they tell the story of the hardships of early marriage in the fifties, when babies and diapers and working the tobacco fields consumed their life. At her heart, I believe my grandmother, who went on to teach school, was a writer. One of my future projects includes a novel based on the grandparent character in Still Waters – but it will really be my grandparents’ love story and tie in themes still relevant to women today, such as how do you balance family and career?
Somehow my grandmother did. She raised three children and loved gardening and cooking and aggravating my grandfather while he watched baseball in the old recliner. When she suddenly died in 1990, he sat all the grandchildren down in the living room and told us what it meant to lose someone. What the circle of life – and the promise of eternal life – really are. I’ve never forgotten his gaunt cheeks and haunted eyes. He was simply lost without her.
Now, by writing just a bit of their story into my own, I like to believe I’m keeping their legacy alive. After all, as Tennessee tells Cora Anne, “I don’t believe in ghosts, Cor. But I do believe in the mighty power of God’s love. Who knows? Maybe He does usher us home with a reminder of the good gifts he gave us here.”
Whose love story inspires you?
Still Waters excerpt, inspired by the love story of Tom and Alice Beeson:
She was lost on Edisto Island. The narrow dirt road she’d mistaken for her turn took her past fields of corn and tomatoes. Then both sides of the road closed in and skinny pines towered overhead and shadowed the sky.
Ahead, the young man tossing bundles of pine straw into the back of a Ford pickup looked harmless. He paused his work when she stopped the car, and to her amusement eyed her warily when she emerged.
Apparently she wasn’t the only one with stranger anxiety. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and gave him the smile she’d learned could get her the world.
“I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I think I’m lost.”
He leaned against the dusty truck and nodded. “Sure thing, m’am. Where were you headed?”
“Cooper Creek Plantation. I’m supposed to meet my – someone.” The word fiancée had suddenly choked in her throat. She swallowed and glanced away from this man’s piercing stare. Butterflies danced in her belly.
“Well, m’am, you’re a little turned around. I could lead you there, if you’d like.”
“That would be wonderful, Mr…” Her voice trailed off, and he filled in his name.
“Coultrie. Thornton Coultrie.” He pulled off his worn leather glove and held out his hand. “But most folks call me TC.”
They shook, his grip firm but gentle. Warmth spread through her fingertips and tingled up her arm.
She locked her blue eyes on his hazel ones and smiled. “Anne Jenkins, but most folks call me Annie.”
“Jenkins, huh? That’s an old Island name.” He tossed his head and held her hand. “Fact is their old plantation, Brick House, is just down the road. I could take you there, too, if you’d like to see it. Even as a ruin it’s one of the prettiest sights on the island.”
The flutters in her stomach churned. What was she doing? She pulled her hand away. “Thank you, but I best be getting on. My…friend will be worried.”
“You aren’t a bit curious about a piece of your past?” A smile quirked at the corner of his mouth, and she fought against smiling back. Instead she delivered the words she’d taught herself to believe.
“Mr. Coultrie, I’m not so much concerned about where I came from, as where I’m going.”
“Well,” he drawled, cocking back his straw hat. “You never know. May be we’re headed in the same direction.”
Bio: Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. Her debut novel, Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is a story about the power of family and forgiveness. Called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing,” Still Waters also received 4-stars from Romantic Times.
A blogger since 2010, Lindsey has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction (2015 and 2017). Her popular column appears in local North Georgia newspapers weekly. Currently, Lindsey is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books, and she freelances as a writing coach. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group where she wrote and edited flash fiction.
A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children. Connect with her at http://www.lindseypbrackett.com or on Facebook: Lindsey P. Brackett, Instagram: @lindseypbrackett, or Twitter: @lindsbrac.