Author RD Vincent knew he had to preserve the tales heard and told by his grandmother and her mother, but it took nearly 15 years to storyboard the project. The result is his Donbridge collection, which features folktales about a mysterious town. Today we talk to RD about the second book in the series, his fascination with old folktales and where he got his inspiration from.
Please give us a short introduction to The Witch of Tamarack Hill
The Witch of Tamarack Hill is the second Book in the 9 part Donbridge Series. It tells the folktale of a witch that terrorized her village and neighboring villages. Her father, in a last act of kindness toward her, cast her in a pillar of salt for all time. But a young girl, Lavinia Woodlock, releases her nearly 175 years later and now her evil begins to terrorize the now town of Donbridge. Only Lavinia's sister, Sarah, holds the key to the towns salvation.
The Witch of Tamarack Hill is a bit of a prequel to the first one in the series. What made you decide to write the books in this order?
The Donbridge series has a unique ability to allow time to move forward and backward over each of the 9 stories. In the first story, The Ring of Lazarus, we see the history of the Ring and how it made its way to the hands of Julianne Taylor. So it was only fitting for a "back in time" approach to happen in the Witch of Tamarack Hill as this book sets up the next few books in the series.
What is it about storytelling and the old folktales that fascinate you so?
I think for me, writing these stories after nearly 150 plus years of word of mouth storytelling has created a real rooted feeling of family. The fact that my Grandmother heard these stories and her mother before her heard these stories and they have survived is amazing and now they are preserved for all time.
What inspired you to write Donbridge?
My Grandmother inspired me to write the Donbridge Series. I saw she was getting older and I knew in my heart I needed to make sure she saw this series published and was able to enjoy it on paper during her lifetime. She has been a pillar of knowledge and support and I thank God for her every day.
Which character in The Witch of Tamarack Hill did you find the most challenging to create?
I think writing the Witch herself was a challenge. By nature, I am not an evil person, so working to make this character come to life and be hated was a rough one. I will say that this character's history traverses through time and influences a great deal of characters yet to be explored in the series. That process alone was very challenging keeping all of her actions straight.
Was the town, Donbridge, inspired by a real, existing place?
The real towns that Donbridge is based on are in New York in Hudson Highlands close to Sleepy Hollow. The name Donbridge is an English word that was modified in spelling for the purpose of the series. The towns themselves still exist, the real towns that is. But for the most part the buildings are either condemned or nearly gone and most of the population has moved away.
Your books create a strong sense of community. Do you think that is something that is lacking in society today?
I would say that community is missing for the most part in our modern day society. We have become farmers of the internet instead of farmers of the earth. Our picnics are Facebook events and our town halls are videos on YouTube. I think we have forgotten how to interact with each other and have forgotten how to live as neighbors. The hope is that Donbridge helps to bring that sense of family and friendship as well as community back to the forefront.
You used to write a cooking column with short stories and recipes. Which recipe is your favorite?
I am always partial to baking so I would say Pumpkin Bread with raisins would be the choice for me.
Your narrator in the book is a grandmother, telling the tale to her grandchildren. Why did you pick this approach? Will the grandmother still become a prominent character?
The Grandmother is a strong character in much the way my Grandmother was and is today. She has her advice and her stories and most of all her wisdom which I believe built an amazing character all in herself. She is extremely important to the Donbridge Series and as you read through the series she becomes the glue that holds everything together.
How do the other novellas in the series tie in with The Witch of Tamarack Hill?
In the Donbridge Series, each story can be read alone or you can continue through the series. Keeping that in kind, I will say that The Witch of Tamarack Hill truly sets the stage for so many more stories in the series.
What type of music do you enjoy listening to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?
I actually enjoy listening to Mahler. I don't know what it is, but his music, although sad at times, has an inspirational quality that has allowed me to write.
Which novelists do you admire?
I was always a fan of Washington Irving and as such his novels helped me to build the world of Donbridge. The headless horseman, for example, was a character I reflected on often while writing.
What are you working on right now? Will we see another Donbridge book soon?
I am in the process of bundling the first three books into one which will be called Donbridge: The Witch, The Ring and The Midwife. I am also working on book 5 Donbridge: The Lost Princess of Lenape Valley. I should have both books finished by the fall of 2016.
Where can our readers discover more of your work and interact with you?