Cinderella and I were born in the same year, so needless to say…she has always been my favorite Disney princess. For my birthday several years ago, in fact, my husband gave me a dinner at the top of her castle in Walt Disney World, Orlando…along with all of the five-year-olds. Truth is, I was just as ga-ga about all of the princesses there as the little kids were…maybe more…
So it has always amazed me…and everyone who knows me…that when I write, my stories are NOT romantic fantasies as one would guess, but instead center around murders…very brutal, grisly murders. To the point that one of my neighbors asked my husband if he was worried that I was so good at killing people off in my novels.
And it’s a wonder that he doesn’t worry. On our first date, I told him about a short story I had created for a writing class when I was given the opening line. I thought it would be a surprise fiftieth birthday party when I started writing it. But about three quarters of the way into it, the main character picked up her abusive husband’s favorite pillow. He was stuck in bed, recovering from a stroke, and had knocked it to the floor with his flailing as he ranted and raved, screaming increasingly foul language at her. I thought she would simply put it back under his head and leave the room to escape the vicious venom he spewed all over her. But instead, she put the pillow over his head…and smothered him. I had no idea she would do that until it happened. And…even though I told my husband that story, he married me anyway and now helps feed my story lines with some of his own.
While she was my first character with a mind of her own, she hasn’t been the last. My characters often pursue me…sometimes aggressively. They have even awakened me in the middle of the night to tell me what they wanted to do. And sometimes they just pop up…as in the case of David in the novel I’m working on now. Simone walked into her apartment and took her shoes off. At the time, I didn’t know anyone else was there. Until she heard a noise in her spare bedroom. She crept down the hall with her hockey stick held high. The light came on and a man stood in front of her. She lowered her stick and said, “Oh my God. David. You scared me to death. What are you doing here?” So, I didn’t know he was coming…and even when he showed up, I didn’t know who he was…until he told me in a later chapter. He’s now my loudest character, telling me about all kinds of things he thinks he should do. And so far, he’s always been right…
One of the main characters for my debut novel, The Consort Conspiracy, A Covington Family Mystery, however, reached out to me from her grave. I had visited an ancient cemetery in the tiny town of Midway, Georgia. The cemetery there is so old, it boasts several signers of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, along with a number of Georgia Governors, Senators, Congressmen, and various other people who have proven to be important to our country.
The cemetery, itself, is very impressive. You can see from the picture how old it is, given the weathered crypts and the size of the water oak trees in the background. Walking through its massive wrought iron gates is almost a sacred experience and once inside, I felt like I should whisper, lest I disturb any of the souls at rest.
I found myself drawn to the oldest part of the cemetery, to the crypt I’m touching in the picture, and was immediately saddened by the inscription on its cover. It was from the late seventeen hundreds and described a woman who died at the age of seventeen while giving birth to her twin daughters. It so moved me that my fictional version of the story practically told itself. And as it came pouring out of me, again, the characters gave me important details…and brought in other characters they needed…including Midway Cemetery, itself, as a central character. Below is the first paragraph of the book’s synopsis:
For almost two hundred years an ancient cemetery deep in the lowlands of Georgia has protected the identity of an infamous, brutal murderer, whose act of betrayal changed the course of the town’s history. Now, eight generations later, MIDWAY CEMETERY conceals the activities of international conspirators engaged in a fast moving counterfeiting ring operating right under the noses of the slow-paced Midway residents. Weary of its secrets and ready to reveal its truths, the graveyard waits.
I revisited the cemetery just last week and, now that the story is told, no other souls reached out to me. I hope that means they like the way I told their story. I hope you, the readers, like the way I told their story, too. The book will be released on July 7, 2017 and can be ordered through TouchPoint Press’s website and through mine as well…www.kayeschmitz.com.
About Kaye Schmitz
Kaye Schmitz has always been a writer. She was first published in her small town weekly newspaper at ten-years-old when her poem, “The Garden,” a flower-filled fantasy, so surprised her parents and teacher, they all insisted she send it in to the local newspaper editor.
Later on she had a number of poems and short stories published in her high school newspaper. In fact, whenever the newspaper editor needed to fill some space, he would call Kaye and she would dash off a poem or a short story.
During college and marriage, and children and careers, Kaye had very little time for writing except for occasional poems from her heart.
Along with constant fiction reading, singing with a group, Christmas baking and aerobic dancing, she also got a kick out of occasionally visiting psychics with her friends on Saturday afternoons. Every single psychic she saw looked at her palm and said, “Oh…you’re a writer.” While she had always believed it, she finally began to act on it and when, years later, she visited an ancient cemetery in the lowlands of Georgia, one of the spirits there reached out to her and presented her with a thought that blossomed into her debut novel.
Kaye now lives in St. Augustine, Florida, and insists that she is still ten-years-old inside—until she starts to write…when tales of murder and mystery take over and demand to be told.
She loves—in addition to her darling husband, her two awesome grown children and four perfect grandchildren—Christmas, cartoons, circuses, carousels, and chocolate.