What Hides In That Kudzu?


Lake Lure was the catalyst. I can't say it was where it all started, because I don't know where or when I started liking all these roadside attractions. But Lake Lure was where I decided to write my first book. We had taken a boat tour of the lake, a strange extravagance that my wife and I rarely did. We liked to just rest, do little, truly empty our minds, so doing something that required us to be somewhere for a certain amount of time was not usual. Still, I'm glad I did it. We sat next to the skipper and I talked about lake boats, and joked about how people would look for the accelerator pedal and not know what the throttle was. But then he told me about Lake Lure. He told all of us, but I bet more people were interested in Dirty Dancing and the expensive homes and all that stuff. I liked knowing that underneath the water was another town, flooded and preserved. I wrote about the town of Buffalo and the church under the lake, where the ghosts ring the church bell at midnight, and boaters who sit in the middle of the lake can hear it ring. If you read Did You See That? you know that story. That was the first story I wanted to tell. I remember driving back home a few days later, coming back through the warmth of the deep south west of North Carolina, all full of overflowing kudzu, the herbal monster that covers everything and grows so fast in the heat of summer that you can actually see it move. And I wondered, what could be under there? It could hide anything and everything. Who would know what's there? That kudzu could just swallow up any valley or stream and no one would know what's there until winter. And it made me think, what about all those places and stories that no one had heard of or knew, or knew where they were? We were using our still new GPS device for cars, which we purchased to drive across the country only months earlier. I realized that I could do that, I could tell people like me exactly where all these spots were. That thing would lead me right to them.


It would take a while, a year or so, just to start the book. A baby and time at home certainly helped. I got it done. Lake Lure has called me back several times. It's a nice place to go to get away. I asked a couple kids working at the ice cream stand who vacations there, because I didn't see a lot of North Carolinians, nor folks from Virginia, there. He said it was popular with people who work in the vacation industry. They like to go there to do just what I like, nothing. It's the opposite of resorts and amusement parks. I was happy to find more stories there. The place seems to have some massive haunting legends. There's always something to discover. But what I like the most is that it's the place that started my writing career.

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