Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared. His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered.
Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind “The Incident With the Landry Boy.”
Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette’s latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew.
What she doesn’t realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret.
Saundra Mitchell is a screenwriter and author. She penned the screenplays for the Fresh Films and Girls in the Director’s Chair short film series. Her short story “Ready to Wear” was nominated for a http://www.pushcartprize.com/nominate.htm
Pushcart Prize, and her first feature film, Revenge Ends, debuted on the festival circuit in 2008. In her “free time,” she enjoys ghost hunting, papermaking, and spending time with her husband and her two children.
Hi Saundra and welcome to The Write Game. From your bio I’m guessing you moved around a lot. And I’m guessing you landed in Louisana at some point. (Correct me on this assumption if I’m wrong.) So what is it about LA that brought this ghostly tale to the page? Could Elijah have disappeared as mysteriously in, say, Oklahoma or California? What does your setting bring to this story that other settings couldn’t.
I haven’t actually moved at all! Except for my time in the military-
which was spent entirely on bases, I’ve lived in Indiana all my life. I
haven’t even traveled that much, and I’ve never been to Louisiana. But I
do love language, and more than that, I love history. And Louisiana has
a spirit all its own-not only do Spanish, French, African,
Native-American and Western European cultures come together here, with
their disparate and beautiful mythologies, faiths and traditions- they
come together on an incredibly unusual piece of land.
You can’t bury a body in the ground in southern Louisiana- it will float
back to the surface. Haunt lights flicker in swamp gasses, alleys of
oaks lean over walks as if weeping for four hundred years of suffering
and victory. Shadowed Summer couldn’t have happened anywhere but
Louisiana, and that made trying to write about a place I’ve never seen a
challenge well worth attempting.
I had a friend from Louisiana and they had a family gathering every year to re-bury relatives. I hadn’t thought about that until now. Hmmm. Guess I have to call her and tell her about your book.
So let’s get to another personal question. What part(s) of Iris are you?
All of them. And it’s not just Iris. All the characters are me, even the
awful ones. Maybe especially the awful ones. When I write, it’s an act
of asking a question from every angle, what I think is right, what I
think is wrong-to try to find the truth in all the middle of it.
Of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?
Perhaps Anneli Rufus’ The Farewell Chronicles. She moves me.
What fictional character do you wish you could be?
Han Solo. He’s awesome.
Now this is a very serious question. After chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away? I ask this of every writer. I’m on a search here for the perfect food remedy. Forgive me.
Actually, I clean to make it go away. Turns out most of the time, my brain would rather write than scrub toilets, so this works for me!
Oh dear. I’ll have to keep asking about the food thing. But, hey, I haven’t tried the toilet route yet. I’ll get back you on how that works.
Thanks so much for having me, C. Lee! 🙂
It’s me that pleased, Saundra. Your book fascinates me and I know others will find it a great read.
There will be more about Saundra Mitchell and Shadowed Summer on March 3. Visit R.J. Anderson for more.