Gr8aunt is the winner of Lynn’s giveaway! Watch for an email from Lynn. Welcome Lynn Chandler Willis! I love stories about how authors incorporate bits of their real lives into their books. This one is intriguing and something I’ve never heard of.
Talking the Fire Out
My daddy was the one in the neighborhood people called on for a little bit of everything. Help building something, or what to do about this or that, or talking the fire out. The what? A fire talker. I was probably ten years old when I saw the gift for the first time.
A neighbor across the street was grilling out. She’d doused the coals with lighter fluid and when she went to drop a match, the entire grill went up in flames, catching her clothes, and herself on fire. Her screams coupled with the neighborhood kids’ screams who had witnessed the horrific accident echoed through the neighborhood.
While someone called for an ambulance, someone else called my daddy. They knew he was a fire talker. While we waited for the ambulance, daddy went to work. He quietly talked with the neighbor to calm her. He did his thing and when the ambulance got there, the scene was nowhere near the chaos it had been earlier. I don’t remember if the neighbor spent time in the hospital or not but I do know she didn’t scar. Her pain was minimal and even the doctors were taken aback by the “miracle.”
There were other times daddy was called upon to talk the fire out. After I had kids of my own, daddy wanted to make sure I had the gift in case a little one got burned. But, as the tradition goes, daddy couldn’t share it with me because you can’t share it with a member of your immediate family. And it has to be shared by a member of the opposite sex. I found all these stipulations a bit tiresome and lost interest until I received a phone call one afternoon from my panicked mother. Daddy had been working on an electrical panel (he was an electrician by trade) and it blew up on him. He was taken to the hospital with 3rd degree burns over 60% of his body. His face, shoulders, and chest received the brunt of the damage.
Daddy was admitted and they got him settled in his room. An elderly black man in a wheelchair sat at the door to daddy’s room and asked if he could come in. He wanted to talk the fire out. Because we believed, we welcomed him in. A day or two later when daddy was talking again, he asked the man if he’d share the gift with me. The old man took me to the end of the hallway, him in his wheelchair, and me sitting on the window ledge, and he told me. I’ll never forget his cloudy eyes and bent and gnarled hands as he shared this gift. And daddy walked out of there with one small scar on his shoulder.
I think about that old man a lot and I’ve used the gift many times myself. When I was writing Tell Me No Secrets (Book 2 in the Ava Logan series) I delved into research of Appalachian granny women. I based a character, Mary McCarter, on one with the gift. Mary and her son, Keeper, became two of my all-time favorite characters. Their story continues in book 3, Tell Me You Love Me. Both books have characters who believe in the old ways of the mountains, and those who don’t. Like real life. I’ve had someone back away, fearfully, after witnessing me talking the fire out of a co-worker’s steam burn. “It’s voodoo,” she whispered.
Readers: How about you? Have you heard about the old mountain ways? I’ll giveaway the complete digital set of the Ava Logan series (US only). All three eBooks to 1 winner.
Bio: Lynn Chandler Willis is a best-selling, award-winning author from North Carolina. She was the first woman in a decade to win the St. Martin’s Press Best 1st P.I. Novel competition. Her novel, Wink of an Eye, went on to earn a Shamus nomination. Her latest, the Ava Logan series, is set in her beloved Appalachia mountains.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001K7W7DU