After four years of researching, writing and traveling along South Carolina’s coastline, lake author Ginny Brock has released her newest book, a work of fiction titled “When the South Wind Blows: The Untold Story of the Phantom of the Carolina Coast.”
While attending an art show at a gallery on Pawleys Island, South Carolina, Brock spotted, along with the artist’s signature, a gray man drawn in the corner of the paintings. Curious, Brock asked the artist about him and discovered the legend of the Gray Man, an apparition who appears to walk along the beach warning others of approaching storms.
“I’ve spoken to two people who actually encountered him,” Brock said. “He’s a benign spirit, and they treasure him. Nobody knows who he is or was.”
The Gray Man Gallery, which bills itself as “the island’s oldest art gallery,” posted the following to its website: “The Gray Man has been seen by a number of prominent island residents and numerous visitors. He appears just before a storm and strangely those blessed by the appearance of this kind apparition tell of property that is unscratched while all around there is destruction.”
That encounter led to Brock’s idea for a fictional book centered around the last days of the Civil War. At first unsure of how to begin writing it, Brock said she heard the voice of an old Negro woman call out to her. The woman, known as Sadie Jones, said to Brock, “My boy is coming home.”
Unlike her three previous non-fiction books, “By Morning’s Light,” “Rainbow Rising: The True Story of Life Before Life, Life on Earth and the Afterlife” and “...As it is in Heaven,” this one is a historical romance.
“It’s a solid romance, as well as historical fiction,” Brock said.
After having written her other books in first-person voice, Brock said she had to formulate the characters for this book. “It was quite difficult to get into other people’s heads,” she said. “These people, you have to build the characters.”
The book opens in February 1865 just as Naval Lieutenant Commander Ross Stanley is moving troops and equipment out of Fort Sumter, South Carolina. He’s hoping to return home soon to his beloved Katie Rose, a headstrong 18-year-old.
“She refuses to wear corsets. She refuses to wear stockings,” Brock said. “She’s kind of a fun character.”
Along with conducting extensive research about the Civil War to ensure historical accuracy, writing the book morphed into a full time process for Brock.
“It was every day,” she said. “It just had to become a habit.”
She also asked for and received copious feedback from her colleagues in the Lake Writers group, of which she is a member.
Since its release in mid-January, the book has received positive reviews.
“Purchased your book and finished reading it on the second day,” reviewer Carolynn Ketwig wrote on Amazon.com. “Couldn’t put it down! A captivating story that touches one’s emotions, the movie playing in my mind throughout.”
Brock will be reading and signing her new book at the Moneta/SML Library on Feb. 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. and again at Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House on Feb. 27, also from 2 to 4 p.m. She said she is available to speak to book clubs and is looking forward to scheduling other readings, too.
“When the South Wind Blows: The Untold Story of the Phantom of the Carolina Coast” is available for sale at Mama Ann’s Gifts and Goodies near Westlake Corner, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Copies also are available for check out from the Moneta/SML Library and Westlake Library.