Author Stories Podcast Episode 682 | Julie Kibler Interview

Author Stories Podcast Episode 682 | Julie Kibler Interview

Today’s author interview guest is Julie Kibler, author of Home for Erring and Outcast Girls: A Novel

An emotionally raw and resonant story of love, loss, and the enduring power of friendship, following the lives of two young women connected by a home for “fallen girls,” and inspired by historical events.

“Home for Erring and Outcast Girls deftly reimagines the wounded women who came seeking a second chance and a sustaining hope.”—Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours

In turn-of-the-20th century Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is an unprecedented beacon of hope for young women consigned to the dangerous poverty of the streets by birth, circumstance, or personal tragedy. Built in 1903 on the dusty outskirts of Arlington, a remote dot between Dallas and Fort Worth’s red-light districts, the progressive home bucks public opinion by offering faith, training, and rehabilitation to prostitutes, addicts, unwed mothers, and “ruined” girls without forcibly separating mothers from children. When Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride meet there—one sick and abused, but desperately clinging to her young daughter, the other jilted by the beau who fathered her ailing son—they form a friendship that will see them through unbearable loss, heartbreak, difficult choices, and ultimately, diverging paths.

A century later, Cate Sutton, a reclusive university librarian, uncovers the hidden histories of the two troubled women as she stumbles upon the cemetery on the home’s former grounds and begins to comb through its archives in her library. Pulled by an indescribable connection, what Cate discovers about their stories leads her to confront her own heartbreaking past, and to reclaim the life she thought she’d let go forever. With great pathos and powerful emotional resonance, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls explores the dark roads that lead us to ruin, and the paths we take to return to ourselves.

Julie Kibler is the bestselling author of Home for Erring and Outcast Girls and Calling Me Home, which was an IndieNext List pick, Target Club Pick, and Ladies’ Home Journal Book Club Pick, published in fifteen languages. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism and a master’s degree in library science and lives with her family, including four rescued dogs and cats, in Texas.

you're listening to the author stories podcast bringing you the story behind the stories and the storytellers market watchers Russ Matthew quick Katie Ellis and Walton Dee Williams Brad for Corey dr. Oren's and Robin mom Ernest Cline temperature Sharon Harris visit Hank garner calm for archives of all the shows today's guest is Julie Cooper thank you for tuning in to author stories we have a fantastic show for you today be sure to go to Hank garner comm where you can subscribe to the show on your favorite podcasting platform you can find links to a third Hank o intercom I'd like to tell you about some sponsors before we get started today the clockwork detective Constable of aqua line book 1 by re McCandless Aubrey Hartmann left the Imperial battlefields with a pocket full of medals a fearsome reputation and a clockwork leg the Imperium diverts her trip home to investigate the murder of a young druid in a strange town she is ordered to not only find the killer but prevent a full-scale war with the dreaded Fae meanwhile the arrival of a sinister secret policeman threatens to dig up Aubrey's own secrets ones that could ruin her career it soon becomes clear that Aubrey has powerful 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me today she has a fantastic new book it's called home for airing and outcast girls this is one of those books that we've all read books that we really like and we enjoy and we recommend to others and then there's one of those books that that kind of sticks with you afterwards and and becomes a part of your consciousness in some way and this is one of those books home for airing and outcast girls is out everywhere now welcome to the show Julie thank you thank you so much for having me I'm excited to have you we begin each show with the same question and that question is what is your first memory of wanting to be a writer or storyteller that's always a good question I was always a reader pretty precocious reader and talker according to my mom oh I don't know if I had so many words that I needed to write them down instead of making everybody nuts with all of my talking I loved to read I loved to ride I had a lot of teacher that encouraged me to write it seems like that was kind of my gift from an early age and so I don't know that I thought I would necessarily be a writer by career but I knew I would always be right even if that makes any sense at all yes yes it does I love that you that you had a lot of encouragement from teachers I love to ask people about that because you know the the dark lonely days of writing can be a struggle for a lot of people and some of those early encouragement Saul ways come back and I like to encourage people to find someone in their life to encourage in the same way exactly yeah so so you weren't necessarily sure about a career as a writer but but it was going to be a thing that you were going to do do you remember one of the first stories that you wrote or maybe yes something that you wrote that that's stuck with you that that you knew that you had maybe turned a corner and you're writing and that this was something that was going to be bigger than you thought I would say sorry I was always in every job I had I was always trying to get the the tasks assigned to me that involved writing or you know later on website building things like that but so I was kind of a late bloomer as far as a actual allowing myself to think about writing fiction as a career and I would say that I probably went to the La Hoya Writers Conference it's been a while I'm trying to remember exactly when it's been more than ten years and probably closer to twelve or thirteen and I had taken you know of course different material with me I didn't have anything finished but I did a couple of read and critique groups with various authors and other readers and I fell a lot of you know a little bit of buzz in the room when I would read things and I had a couple of comments from some of the authors and it it was very I'm just at a loss for words right now it that always happens when you're a writer there was one specific moment when I went to get a book signed by Linda Leo Miller who writes things that are very different from what I write but I kind of had a connection with her I think on a personal level and a reading read and critique and I went to her to have her sign one of her books and she signed something like Julie you're a very very talented writer you're going to go places and signed it and then she told me personally and I don't just write that to anyone and so that was a very affirming moment that was the word I was looking for earlier I would say that probably was kind of a turning turning point where I felt like I might really have something I had had you written any novels before your first book came out that that did not get published yes I did I in fact that conference I had taken a middle-grade but that I'd been working on or a critique with one of the children's agents that was there and it wasn't complete it was just something I was kind of playing around with and I had started a few things before that that I didn't quite you know I didn't finish them I didn't feel quite like they were something I wanted to show anybody and then after that I wrote a full manuscript and I you know went through all the kind of standard having beta readers and my critique group etc and then I queried that one and I didn't query it for a long time I probably sent out 20 I think twenty twenty-five queries wasn't getting the kind of feedback that I wanted and so I had started thinking about calling me home and at that point I just said okay I don't think this is going to be the book some people might think that's nuts after only 20 queries because you hear stories of you know hundreds but something was just telling me move on go ahead and write calling me home which I did and then you know with that book I I got an agent almost immediately and sold almost immediately so obviously that was the right move but bits and pieces you know bits and pieces of things that I start fiddle with yeah you know well and that that's so many people's experience and that's why I asked that because almost everyone has at least one trunk novel desk or novel you know it's just part of you know working on your chops but I did want to ask you this the the middle grade book that you wrote and you know you queried 20 agents or so was there was there something about the feedback you were getting that let you know that this was not the right path for you not the right book well it was there something that stood out to you that bolstered that opinion that it was time to move on so actually it was and honestly I think I was just putting off writing a novel because I honestly don't know that I would ever be a good children's author it was I was kind of having fun with it with my daughters at the time reading it to them they were enjoying it and I think I was just kind of taking a break but the adult novel that I did finish I was getting good feedback from people that were reading it but it wasn't like overwhelming feedback you know it just was like oh this is good this is solid you know from agents I didn't quite connect with it you know kind of the standard stuff and so it it just didn't feel I wanted more than that I wanted an agent to you know jump up and down and say can I call you tomorrow which is more what happened with calling me home you know so and then also when I finished writing calling me home and had my critique group reading it and you know other people I was getting text in the middle of the night I was getting text you know or phone calls and emails and just from the readers before I even queried it saying this is it this is it you know and I never got that was calling me home and so that was such confirmation that I had made the right decision and I don't know I just felt like I needed to put the other one away I even sent it back to my agent after calling me home to say you know should I pursue this anymore and she was like yeah you could but you're probably gonna have to rewrite most of it you know and I was like hmm let's move on to something new and it's a story I do I really love that story it was I would I would say probably the main reason I put it away is because I figured out more Who I am as a writer in that book I wanted to be Jody Pico at that time everybody wants to be Jody Pico you know it was kind of a ripped from the headlines thing and you know and then I was like oh wait I'm not Jody I'm Julie you know and yeah yeah well one thing that I love about your books Julie is that you have this way of mmm and and I want to talk to you about this because I it seems like mining situations or personal family history or local history there's something about the way that you you take these kind of mundane stories and I don't mean Monday and in a bad way but like that the things that that all of us have in our past and our families or in our communities and find the extraordinary story that that kind of gets lost in in our day-to-day you know histories can you tell me about calling me home and and where the idea for that book came from I love that book it's absolutely fascinating I think where'd they come from so with that book my I talked a lot to my dad by phone at that time and still he lives clear across the country and so you know we have to spend time on the phone you know trying to make up for the time we don't get to spend together so so I was taking this voice class with Barbour Samuel she also writes by Barbara O'Neil Mark O'Neil and I'd had a conversation with my dad about his childhood with his mother was a we weren't very close like I was with my other grandmother she was she could be fun and she could be not fun and I really was puzzled by her personality so I asked my dad one day you know as an adult you know why do you think grandma was the way she was and he said well he said she told me one time that when she was young she had had a relationship with a black man and that she wasn't allowed to be with him and obviously her family didn't accept that and she it was almost like she was living a life that she didn't expect to live like she she never got to fulfill that relationship you know what she weren't who she wanted to be with and she had just kind of been living another life the rest of her life and you know whether that's really the reason you know that she was unhappy or you know not who she could have been or not that explained a lot to me I felt like I had a lot of grace for her as an adult that I didn't have as a child when I didn't understand and so in Barbara's class we were supposed to write a monologue from and I can't remember what the specific instruction now was but I decided to write a monologue from the voice of my grandmother and it in you know it ends up being nothing like calling me home but it kind of gave me a glimmer of Oh hmm this could be a story that I might like to write one day and didn't give myself permission to do that for a long time but then I finally did so I loved it was it was that an easy story to to connect with emotionally knowing the the family connection that you had and and starting to think you know of all of the fallout that that happened to someone as as close to you as your grandmother that does that make it easier to to kind of mine that emotional you know well or is it easier when you're when you're thinking of some you know like with your new book you didn't necessarily have a relationship with anyone from the home for airing and outcast girls easier harder and different how do you have you see that I would say it was definitely easier with calling me home you know Isabelle doesn't turn out to be really anything like my grandmother I don't know what she was like as a teenager but I could kind of imagine but even so Isabel took on a life of her own and I'm not even really sure she is that much like my grandmother would have been but definitely having that kind of personal connection my dad also had told me that the town where he lived growing up and in the town where my grandmother lived were sundown towns which I had not even heard of he'd just never talked about these things with me so you know learning that about even my dad and my grandmother and then also the voice of Dorie who was the hair stylist and she's a black woman single mom and I had a very dear friend and my hairstylist who was a black single mom and when I wrote the book I knew that I wanted to do it from the you know two voices a white person and a black person because it seemed silly to write a book about race from just the white point of view if I was going to have two points of view so lots of personal connections there and it really did kind of rush out of me and once I once I really got my my feet steady and the story I wrote it very quickly and then I had turned around and revised for about the same amount of time whereas with home for airing an outcast home for airing and outcast girls which is a long title but I loved it I you know found a kernel of you know okay there's the cemetery in this town where I've lived for twenty five years and I've not heard of it what is this about you know and then going and doing tons of research at the library and I really started with different voices I wrote I wrote the proposal which went you know through my agent and then eventually through my editor several times from different voices different situations and you know it was really a matter of finding the right I always say I have to find the right entry point when I'm working on a novel for it to be for it to really take off I you know and sometimes it takes me a while to find my entry point and if I'm working on something and I don't find it I move on like if I after several tries I just never find the right thing to jump off of I will move on so this book was much more difficult to write absolutely you you talked about that that kernel of the story and and so many times that's how a a story begins it's just a thought it's just a what-if question is they you know it's just something provocative that for whatever reason jumps out and you know that I really don't like the question you know where where do you get your ideas from because we know that ideas are everywhere you know you just have to open your eyes and ears and there's their ideas for stories everywhere but but there's that that story idea that just rises above the rest floats a little higher what was it about this idea and what was the historical event in the setting that that inspired this to begin with okay so after I finished calling me home I'm gonna back up a little bit and the book was published and I was you know attempting to write another story I I have told people this and they just kind of look at me like oh my goodness I started or worked on nine other stories I didn't that makes me feel so much better about myself I didn't spend I didn't really try to sell any of them except for I think maybe so I went I my editor saw two of them but that wasn't really like you know do you want to buy this it was more like what do you think you know and and she was like I'm one of them no I'm not sure that's the right way to go and I'm one of them she was like well you know that sounds good but that sounds really challenging and I'm not sure that that's the right thing but go ahead and work on it yes so I did but then I put it away and then so I just was kind of wandering you know I was doing a lot of book club events for calling me home I was doing a lot of events otherwise and you know finally had to kind of my agent was like okay I think you need to you know stop and really try to settle into a book if you want to have in another book you know so finally after all of these other attempts and I was really sunk pretty deep in another story when I happen to see a link on Facebook that a friend had posted just a you know more of an acquaintance somebody I don't know really well but has been an acquaintance for many years she posted a link to a story and an article more or less blog post or something about the 10 most haunted places in Arlington Texas or something like that and I was like oh that's interesting because you know I'd lived in Arlington for 25 or so years my kids grew up there I had moved away recently from Arlington to Fort Worth which is just you know 20 minutes but I was like oh I know all of those places I'm sure I know what what all these things are but it just caught my attention so I just read down the list and I'm really thankful I read all the way to the bottom because the last one was the what they said the lost cemetery for infants and I was like what is that you know so I I read about it and started to look it up like what is this found out that there was this home on what what is now part of the University of Texas at Arlington campus there's a park there and in a corner of the park there is a cemetery for what was once a home for young women who were either pregnant out of wedlock or they were prostitutes or they were drug addicts and this young couple young Mich not missionary but you know they were it was a pastor and his wife they had built this built this home for these young women to come to and stay and find new lives basically they didn't cover up anything that had happened they wanted them to basically embrace their past and but make a new life you know it was a place they could go to start over but without hiding their secrets about their life you know if they had baby they were actually expected to keep them for at least a year if they were pregnant they were you know they signed a contract saying I'll stay here with my baby for one year well I learn you know a trade or anything like that so I had never heard of this home and it turns out so many people haven't you know I've only come across a few much older people who even knew that it existed and so when I learned that I was like wow you know this is big it was there 30 years lots of people went through this home you know and how come I've never heard about it so I was just I mean my blood was pumping you know when I when I learned about this I just I could not get enough you know I mean the information was like just I couldn't I couldn't put it aside and I couldn't stop thinking about it day and night the I I've heard of places like this and I remember let's see I was I was a kid of the 70s and 80s and I remember earlier in my childhood that of a young woman who got pregnant out of wedlock and and went away and you know almost a year later she's back you know and then nothing had changed and and you know after that things started changing but I do remember that and I remember that this you know this kind of concept was you know was it was kind of prevalent and society especially in the south the what I really find intriguing about this is that they they tried to remove the shame from that you know because people went away out shame and then you know came back and they just everybody you just pretended that it never happened and that's really provocative that's that they encouraged these women to kind of own their mistakes and that to build a life in spite of those mistakes or maybe you know with those mistakes however you look at that and as you started digging into this what were some other provocative things that that jumped out at you well the the history of that home actually from what I can read there's there were 30 let's see have to do some math 30 almost 30 years of what they called their journals or they were they were basically like a almost like a magazine like a glossy but not color but you know glossy black and white small magazine that they called a journal that they put out each almost every month that had a lot of information about the home basically you know it was a fundraising tool but it was also an out rate outreach tool they would send them out to their subscribers and you know subscribers would send money the guy that ran the home was a really effective fundraiser and that you know they did manage to run the home for 30 years and but the the the eventual demise of the home actually is because there a couple of other homes for unwed mothers opened in the dallas-fort Worth area and it you know they were following kind of the norm you know the babies were put up for adoption the girls went and stayed and now of course those homes are still there like the Edna Gladney home the girls can stay there they get to choose you know whether they are going to keep their baby or give their baby up for adoption so it's of course it's a completely different scenario now but apparently they just really couldn't compete with these homes that wanted girls to give up their babies you know it became the fashion I don't know if again or you know if maybe prior to that girls just when they got pregnant they either had the baby and lived in shame or they you know went out work mostly probably thrown out on the streets and so it I think it was actually almost a the initial purpose of a lot of these homes you know that eventually did come around and they in the early 20th century were for women to be able to keep their I think they were kind of pioneering in that but I think that wasn't as unusual later on but then you know we get into the oh let's keep this a secret your life can go on just like it did so that was interesting to me that it's almost backwards you know what I mean like you would think it would be the other way around that you know the home would come after that versus before that but it's like they went from you know being fairly open to suddenly Oh secrecy is better you know I learned so much in the the University of Texas at Arlington has a special collections department of course and they have this collection of memorabilia from the Baraka industrial home which was the name the official name of the place it gets called as you're reading through the memorabilia the newsletters etc you know it's like the Baraka home for the redemption and of airing and outcast girls you know various things that they kind of used I think informally and Baraka industrial home was the formal name but I just learned so much in this very small but deep collection there's you know three boxes some microfilm and then of course little bits of things here and there online and my mind was just blown by so much that I learned I feel like I'm wandering here what you mentioned that you while you were looking for the the entryway and to the story that you did all this research and you're just talking about the the archives when did you when did you finally find you're in and with a with a place with a rich history like that it was there for thirty years how do you start finding the things that will you know launch the story for you okay so I would say there was there was a an entry point almost immediately but I didn't quite understand it for a while so I went to the cemetery on my very first visit to the special collections department to you know look look at the collection kind of get get my feet wet a little bit I went to the cemetery and there were just a couple of the headstones and memorials that really caught my attention and said you know what is this what does this mean what there is a story here just simply in the words that were on the stones that I saw and that piqued my interest you know I knew I knew that I wanted to write something about this home but but the the gravestones piqued my interest in a much more specific way but I didn't know what they meant and so at first I was just writing you know kind of jumping off of that like making up stuff so to speak you know completely and then the deeper I got into researching in the collection and you know doing other things online looking at censuses looking at genealogy sites and I began to learn the real stories and found two young women in particular that just grabbed me Maddie and Lizzie who are the two points of view in the past on this story there's also a point of view in the present of a librarian with who is you know researching she just got she goes to work at the library and begins to research and much in the same manner that I did only obviously didn't work at the library but Maddie and Lizzie Jess so I had you know I'd written a couple of other things I in fact I sent the proposal to my agent several times and my editor had moved publishing houses in the mean time and so it was you know gonna be tricky whatever we did was you know new and we didn't know if I was going to still be at my other publisher or move on to the new one but when I finally hit upon these two young women who were real people that lived there and I realized how much there actually was about their stories available I knew that that's you know that was where I was going I just and they I say with with hauling me home you know the characters live and breathe in my and but they're not like they're not actually my grandma though not actually my hairstylist they're just people that appeared that are fictional but still live and breathe well Maddie and Lizzie really were real people and so if you take the living and breathing fiction character up a notch and know that they were real people they're I mean they're I feel feel as if I know them so much more intimately even than in calling me home and care for them and love them you know I'm obviously very passionate about them yeah I love the the framing story with Kate Sutton and I love that you made her a librarian and you know that that's kind of one of those guilty pleasures for for writers we love to write about writers or or bookstore people or librarians you know it's so much fun did you feel like Kate Sutton in some ways was a mirror of your experience in in that Kate was kind of learning about this in and uncovering and discovering a lot of in the same way that you were yeah very much so and also not only in in that way but other than I do have a master of library science and I did my internship at a library but I mainly did it because I I thought I would work as what they call an independent information professional which I did for a couple of years and then moved on to writing full-time but so I mean I have and I also tell people that when I was a little girl I would catalog my books and make my friends check them out and I would find them if they didn't like them on time and it really was just one friend so she you know she was allowed we moved a lot and so it seems like I always had like one close friend I'd allow them into my library you know so and my books were very much they were the the constant you know I carted my books everywhere every move you know I my parents didn't make me get rid of them so we just moved them and I still have I would say most of them but I also in the story and hope ring and outcast girls Kate comes from a conservative religious background and she is beginning to really question things you know the girls in the past in the book they're kind of coming away from lives that didn't necessarily have big religious influence into this life where they actually have a lot of rules and you know policies they have to follow and they're expected to be you know become you know conservative Christians and you know it's kind of in it a little bit opposite and not so much because Maddie is also a questioner but hey in the present has come from this background where she's you know been told this is this is this this is that that's right that's wrong you know everything and she's questioning it and she's having experiences that are causing her to really question everything she's learned well I also come from a background similar and my dad was a pastor and but you know fortunately my parents were very progressive with my family and my brother and I weren't you know we weren't required to go to church it was our personal choice you know but we were active in youth groups and you know we observed kind of kids and much more strict homes etc but I was also a questioner you know and my parents were very open to that so in a way I was like Kate and in certain areas in some ways different but you know definitely much of that comes from my own personal experience and also the experiences that I observed of friends and people that I just knew you know so there's a lot of really personal history behind all of that um this this book took you you talked about writing the previous book and how fast that it came and this one was was more work yeah do you have any advice for people that find themselves in that situation where they know that this book is the book that they should be writing they know this story has legs and the characters are real but sometimes it's just you know you for all sorts of different reasons you get mired down in the story of how do you work your way out of that well I would say you have to realize that every book you write is going to be different some books are going to rush out of you and some books are going to you know make you think you're going to lose your mind before you're done and that's normal some of them do and some of them don't and I would say in this case I was so fortunate to have an amazing editor Hillary team and who was at st. Martin's with me for calling me home and then I was you know fortunate enough to be able to move over to crown with her for this book and in fact she is now with Valentine and she said hopefully you'll be with me at Valentine but you know of course those are both Random House penguin Random House so that's a little bit easier move I'm already there as long as I can you know give her another book but and as long as she's still there so hopefully that's a long-term thing but she is a tough editor you know we went through a lot of revisions with this book even after I had written and revised so much and in fact a lot of this book was written very quickly once once I get started I really am a fast writer it's just a matter of getting to the right point and then it just honestly Besh's but it still was hard you know it was very different but we went through I would say three pretty intense revisions you know we'd we'd hoped that it would be out last year but both of us you know when it when it was all said and done we were like nope it's not ready yet none of us my agent my editor Hilary you know we didn't want to put something out that wasn't ready and so I'm thankful for the patience of my editor and also my own acceptance that no we don't want to just put a book out that's you know okay we want it to be really good and you know I hope that now that it's out in the world that that you know that that people agree I know that not everybody will like your book but I have gotten a lot of really good enthusiastic feedback so hopefully we did our job with that well the the care that you took really shows in the pages so I think that's the the ultimate you know encouragement that you did the right thing because it definitely shows through in the pages and you know some books just just need more time and and I think we need to not be afraid to do that yeah and of course there's also the flipside like you could fiddle forever with a book and at some point you do have to just say okay we're done and I'm a fiddler so I if you read the advanced review copy or the finished copy probably the advanced the GAO yes yes the galley so I'm that person that even in the first page pass it the first pass what am I trying to say a first pass pages second pass pages I'm still changing words so I think that I managed to think I managed to make any big changes and you know from the proofs to the finished copy but I know there are a lot of words and you know a few little mistakes that early readers caught thank goodness but yeah it's still I feel like you could probably read the final copy and it would it might be a little bit new to you and you know eventually people just have to say okay we're done Julie stop I'll be the I'm the person that gets charged you know they charge you for a certain number of changes in your page proofs they begin to charge you because that I think helps you to I think I got charged like two hundred and seventy five dollars they're calling me home because like so everyone go out by the hard copy so that Julie can afford to pay that's right right it's more or less the same yeah yeah well the book is home for airing and outcast girls that is available everywhere now and hardcover kindle edition and audiobook edition also Julie I love the book I love what you're doing if people are just learning about you and want to dig into more about what you do is there a place they can connect with you online yes my website in fact has recently been redone and it's really pretty I think author bytes did it it's just WW Julie Keebler calm my Twitter I don't do much on Twitter my Instagram feed and you can link to that or my facebook author page from my website those are the two places that I'm more active I'm not a big Twitter person or Pinterest person but I love Instagram because I'd love to take goofy pictures of my animals and you know and things like that so I love it well we're gonna send everybody to see you and to pick up their copy of home for airing and outcast girls Julie thank you so much for taking time to come on the show today thank you I had a lot of fun thanks for tuning in to the author stories podcast be sure to subscribe at Hank garner comm or on your favorite podcasting app now stay tuned for an audiobook excerpt from Richard Gleaves at the Jason Crain series I was walking through the woods between the wolfertz in the future site of my father's stone manor house the house would eventually stand on what had been old Baltus his pumpkin filled the land where I had found my grandfather's head father had chosen the spot for its view of the Hudson River Knoll was to be a grand mansion in the Gothic Revival style but at the time the mansion was but a few foundations of Van Brunt stone I had become fond of the place already the idea of it and I spent many a night alone in a shack on the property my mother disapproved she would have me sleep in the room across from hers in our townhouse but I was 15 and did not answer to her I kept a bottle of spirits hidden in the crook of two walnut trees near old walters's grave I thought he would approve of the gesture I had stopped along my way to fetch it out at the moment the first pull of liquor touched my throat I heard a ghastly inhuman laugh I was not alone in the woods had God sent the horseman after me had I sinned that terribly I ran through the wood and found the field where knoll was to be built the outline of the foundations was barely discernible beneath the snow an apparition stood there though I have seen him many times since I shall never forget my first glimpse gaunt in moonlight headless exuding power and malice a magic thing in the land of the ordinary the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow what chills those words evoke it charged at me hatchet raised I stood transfixed unable to move unable to even imagine escape this was the servant of God after all sent to strike down sinners I hurled the bottle from my hand ashamed that I had become a drunkard as Baltus had been it shattered against the foundations of no I stretched out my arms and awaited judgment a piercing white light broke the darkness the horse reared not my Dylan cried Agatha appearing from the wood she held a skull in her hand it shone brightly as a diamond and in that moment I understood the horseman did not serve God he served my grandmother perhaps in that moment I came to see Agatha and God as one and the same the unholy spirit fought her command a four leg of the demon horse struck my head with such power that I fell backwards with a cry and knew no more I carry the scar to this day a slight indentation in my temple barely noticeable in my days of courting I was told that when I am angry the patch of insulted skull bone will stand out in a disturbing manner I have never had occasion to see this phenomenon however as I am generally well pleased whenever I pass a mirror you

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