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Where the Woodbine Twines
     
  Q. WHERE THE WOODBINE TWINES is billed as a Southern Gothic thriller. What makes it that?
  A. I'd say it's most definitely Southern Gothic. Though it's the farthest thing from a crime or espionage thriller, I have been told it's a fast-moving read with a strong suspense element.
     
  Q. Explain Southern Gothic.
  A. The Encyclopedia Britannica definition of Southern Gothic is a good one: "a style of writing practiced by many writers of the American South whose stories set in that region are characterized by grotesque, macabre, or fantastic incidents." Also, Tennessee Williams described Southern Gothic as a style that captured "an intuition of an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience."
     
  Q. Do you think it's a stereotype that the South is somehow more gothic than the rest of the country?
  A. I'm not sure Southerners are really more eccentric—maybe we are. I do know that my own extended family is full of truly gothic characters and incidents. I've lived in other parts of the country, and when I discuss the strange ways of my distant cousins, people have told me "Oh, we have those in our family, too, but we don't tell it." It may be it's a sensibility we've honed because we're a storytelling people, Southerners are, and we naturally look for the telling detail, the macabre.
     
  Q. What is WHERE THE WOODBINE TWINES about?
  A. It's about people who are different. It also touches on the ageless hope of some kind of afterlife where "we'll understand it better by and by," as the old hymn goes.
     
  Q. What is woodbine?
  A. Woodbine, in popular usage, is an umbrella term for winding, climbing vines. You can loosely apply it to honeysuckle, ivy, Virginia creeper, or Carolina Jessamine, the state flower of South Carolina, which grows prolifically in the Southern coastal states in late winter and early spring. Vines, flowery or leafy or bare, twining up columns and around rusting gates and over old tombstones, are the props in my personal mythos. (If you are an aspiring writer or an artist in any field, you might begin by exploring yours.) It's mostly a fantasy, though. The South I live in now is urban. I have to go looking for the pockets of lush decay I'm drawn to.
     
  Q. Your first book dealt with many facets of the supernatural. What about this one?
  A. There is a single incident in WOODBINE that the reader may or may not decide is supernatural, but I'd call it more of a naturalized Gothic story.
     
  Q. What is naturalized gothic?
  A. It is gothic without a reliance on the supernatural. I'd call the movie "A Beautiful Mind" naturalized gothic. It's the off-kilter, the uncanny, in everyday life, or as it shows forth in a material universe.
     
   
  MARIAH OF THE SPIRITS is an award-winning collection of short fiction on supernatural themes, set in the American South. The stories explore afterlife concepts as aspects of the Humanities, the branch of knowledge concerned with human thought and culture.
     
     
   
     
 

 

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