Georgia usually dreams about sharks, this time was different.
Thank you, Leslie Ann, for an opportunity to tell my story. I spent a recent October weekend at Lake Lure, a storybook location nestled at the foot of Chimney Rock, a filming location known for the movies “Last of the Mohicans” and “Dirty Dancing.” When the leaves of western North Carolina turn colors, thousands of visitors come to admire the natural beauty of this area, and hundreds of residents leave for their second homes in warmer climates. The season calls for a party, or a craft fair, where locals like me sell our wares before hunkering down for the winter.
A visitor to my booth picked up my recent release, Lost Legend of Vahilele, and inquired if I had traveled to Fiji. My response was, “only in my head.” Her question reminded me of a message from a Tennessee reader who said she felt as though she had walked the island with the main character. Imaginative readers are blessed to inhabit many faraway worlds. For some unknown reason, the world of Vahilele has been clear to me for a long time.
Four years ago, I was awakened from a sound sleep by the image of a woman with her back toward me. I only noticed her long black hair and red feather headdress. I reached out to her, and she turned. The flames shooting from her eyes awakened me. Rarely do I have dreams like that. I had not seen a movie or read a book with a similar character. I did not know if she was from heaven or hell. Who was she and what did she want? Usually my nightmares involve sharks!
At the time, I was writing mystery short stories, and a historical blog about my fascinating neighbors with roots that go back to Wales in 1100 AD. From archaeology magazine articles, I was aware of the conflicting theories on the Lapita people. Where did they come from and when did they become the Polynesian settlers of the South Pacific? I named my night visitor, Lapita, and devoted hours researching islands to find an appropriate setting for her. I discovered Vatulele, a tiny island in Fiji, with petroglyphs of mysterious origin. I also found the perfect mate, a shipwrecked sailor. And I included the protection of the Phoenix, a mythical firebird.
My 10,000 word short story titled “The Rampart of the Phoenix” was rejected by a publisher who said the story was not complete. My 35,000 word novella titled “The Rampart of the Phoenix” was rejected after long consideration by a publisher with comments forwarded from five editors who said the story was not complete. On Friday the thirteenth, November of 2015, I finished the 95,000 word novel. That same day I received an email message from a stranger, the owner of the only resort on Vatulele. He had found my blog where I mentioned my mysterious interest in Vatulele. He had purchased the resort because he fell in love with the island, yanuyanu in Fijian language.
Among the many photos Mr. Bertini sent me, there was a sketchy one of a lady’s profile with long dark hair and a red headdress, a petroglyph painted on a cliff thousands of years ago, my Lapita. He told me of a significant sign he experienced before he bought the resort. As he stood at the lagoon, a shark came steadily toward him, paused, and turned to swim out to sea. All of this was in my novel before he contacted me.
|A breathtaking sunset of the island with an odd formation over the lagoon. I liked this one especially, since the main character is seeking the strength of the island's guardian, the Phoenix spirit. ~used with permission|
I do not possess the theology or the philosophy to explain this mysterious connection. Until I visit today’s Vatulele, the old world of Vahilele in 650 AD is clear to me and easy to describe from scenes in my head. This new friend who has invited my family to his resort thinks I have travelled to the island before as a “dreamwalker.” I will let others form their own opinions.
I rarely share the origins of this tale because some people don’t appreciate what they cannot explain. Last week at a booth in another small town, I felt compelled to tell a customer about my dream. She nodded with understanding. She had been in Arizona at an archaeological dig and felt as though she had been there before. When the park ranger told her tour group a site was a native ceremonial spot, she knew immediately it was a place for burning flesh and blood sacrifices. She remembered it. When she told the ranger what she suspected, he confirmed her truth but cautioned her that information was not for public knowledge. She could not explain to him how she knew what she knew. Perhaps there is a supernatural truth. I offer Lost Legend of Vahilele as an oral history of a people who do not have a written history. I respect the Fijian legends and talented crafters and never want to detract from their culture. On the contrary, it seems I am under their spell.
While I hunker down in my log cabin this winter, I will consider writing a sequel to this novel because I am curious about the journey of a golden race who eventually sailed their outriggers thousands of miles east to Hawaii. Last year in Vanuatu, west of Fiji, archaeological proof was found that the Lapita people had lived there for generations. Ancient pottery sherds have also been found east of Fiji in Samoa, Tonga and other islands. For me, it is a great indie adventure to track the roots of my dream lady. I invite my readers to come along for the discovery. And if you have been to Fiji, I invite you to share your travel photos on my website Lost Legend page here.
Princess Lapita risks her life to preserve a golden race whose last child comes of age in 650 AD. When the shipwrecked crew from a Persian trading ship tries to take control of the island of Vahilele, they underestimate the powers of the local Priestess who seeks wisdom from her guardian, the mythical Phoenix.
Georgia Ruth lives in the storied gold-mining foothills of North Carolina where she records and shares the folklore of neighbors. Her former careers in family restaurant management and retail sales inspire countless characters and conflicts.
Because perspective influences behavior, her stories offer a psychological window to examine the motivation for crimes amid tangled relationships. Her latest short story “Strong Enough” was published in April 2017 in the Malice Domestic 12 anthology Mystery Most Historical. Her short story “The Mountaintop” was selected by bestselling author Elizabeth George for Best American Mystery Stories 2016.
Find Georgia Ruth: