Well, the idea is that the facts are fast. I’m not so sure how fast they actually will be because when I get to yammering about something that interests me, I’m likely to slow down and really weave a talk around whatever has my interest at that moment. I love sharing my life experiences and I love research. Today, the Outer and Inner Banks of North Carolina is the thing that holds my interest, both through research and my life experiences.
I’m no stranger to the banks. In fact, for a few years in the early 2000s I lived within minutes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina which sits on the northern end of the chain of “islands” which run down the eastern seaboard of North Carolina. Past Kitty Hawk going north you’ll find Southern Shores, Duck, Corolla, and Knotts Island. Past that, you’re into Virginia territory. We were frequent flyers to the banks during our time in such close proximity, driving over nearly every weekend during the summer and at least one a month in the winter months. There’s a great fishing beach which you can still drive on at Oregon Inlet which puts you within a few minutes of the Coast Guard station. The banks are littered with piers, quaint shops, and great places to eat fresh fish. One of my favorite places to eat during the time we lived so close was Quagmire’s, which in my opinion made the best crab cake sandwich around.
The banks are also steeped rich in history. The Lost Colony of Roanoke has its roots firmly, or not so firmly being as it’s long ago missing, in Dare County on Roanoke Island. Captain Kidd, Calico Jack, and the infamous Blackbeard all reigned terror upon the banks during what’s dubbed the Golden Age of Piracy. The Atlantic floor just off the Outer Banks is host to approximately 3000 shipwrecks. The Huron just off Nags Head Fishing Pier is frequented by curious divers due to its close proximity to shore and ease of accessibility by swimming out. It’s also only about twenty-feet down, making for an easy dive. The Island Farm on Manteo offers hand’s on activities and demos of life before the Civil War to include blacksmithing, cooking, and woodwork. Kitty Hawk is where the Wright brothers first took flight. And there are enough lighthouses to keep you busy exploring for days.
One thing that will forever stand out to me is the laid-back culture and amount of money that resides along the Outer Banks. It would seem a strange dichotomy. You’d think vast, seemingly endless, resources would bring with it a degree of uptight pretension. It didn’t. It might other places, but it doesn’t there, at least not in my experience. I had the privilege of working as a vault teller for a nationally known bank during our foray in Pasquotank County and occasionally I would volunteer to go work at the branch near Kill Devil Hills. I absolutely loved working that branch. People would come in wearing their beach gear, and by that, I mean board shorts and shirtless, or in bikinis. Most of them were making their house payments. Some of the payments I processed were in excess of ten-thousand dollars a month. I was just a middle-class girl living in an upper crust world a couple of days here and there and it just simply fascinated me. These people never made me feel middle-class, however. They never treated me like I was beneath them or their servant. They made me feel like I was just as privileged as they were by being a part of that world and culture. I was a part of their community.
When we moved further south, back to Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point Air Station, where we stayed until 2013, that put us on the southerly end of the banks which link up to mainland via ferry from Ocracoke to Cedar Island on the Pamlico Sound. On this end of the banks you’ll find Hatteras National Seashore, a wildlife refuge, and Core Sound Museum.
I’m a coastal girl. My soul lives and breathes for the smell of salty air and sunshine, the sand between my toes. Circumstances dictate that I live in the mountains for now, but if hurricane insurance wasn’t a factor, the Outer Banks is where I’d choose to live next. As it is, we may very well try to get as close to that world again as possible.
Most of my characters have coastal souls just like me. They may have cabins at elevation along the Balsam Range and have family in the Pacific Northwest, but something seems to always draw them, or drive them, back to the Atlantic at one point or other. My current WIP is no different.
Dillon Taylor, hero of book three in the new series I’m working on, revealed to me recently he owns a private island in the Roanoke Sound. That’s about half-way down the chain of islands and is home to Roanoke Island, host of the Lost Colony mystery. His island is the perfect place for him to have taken Ana, the love of his life, while she gets some much-needed rest and relaxation and he and his black ops team figures out how to catch the bad guys before anyone else falls victim to their dark world. Helping Dillon get there resurrected all my memories of years spent on the banks. It brought back the sights and smells and feel of warm sand on the soles of my feet. And it made me want to share some of that with you on a cold winter day.
While you’re waiting on a release date announcement for the first book in the S3 series, you can always have a glimpse into these characters’ world by picking up a copy of Flashpoint. It’s a boxed set of two books which began as stand-alone stories and became the basis for the S3 series. You can find it at Amazon, and it’s available now for only $.99.
I hope my fast, or not so fast, facts about the Outer Banks help keep you warm until spring finally comes along.