Local author publishes novel about area legend
It has been a long hike for C. Greenshields to reach the publication of his first book. Sometimes, the hike was figurative, but often it was literal.
Greenshields has lived in Mason, MI— about 110 miles from Toledo— almost his whole life. He finished his first book at the age of 22, but it still sits unpublished on his shelf. Now 47, he’s written consistently for almost his entire life. It took until now to finally see his work in print. His debut novel, The Witch of Seven Gables, has some very personal origins, drawn from his hikes through the woods in and around his hometown.
“I grew up a poor kid, the youngest of nine,” Greenshields said. “We didn’t own our own property, so that would be a place for me to go and escape, stretch my wings, if you will. So I started going out there in the mid-80s and started running into people on the trails— people who were foraging or hunting or partying or whoever.
And this legend of the Witch of Seven Gables, or the Ghost of Seven Gables, started being a recurring theme.”
A local legend
The Witch is a common urban legend among residents of Dansville, MI, only 7 miles away from Mason. The stories vary wildly between tellings, but the core idea is always the same: There is a spirit of some sort haunting Seven Gables Road, a dead-end passage just off E. Dexter Trail. Some say if you cross over the rusted, abandoned fence that stands there and you hear a scream, you will die.
One night, Greenshields and his friend were camping near Dansville and heard a blood-curdling scream. “It was two o’clock in the morning. My friend and I looked around the area for the next couple hours and we didn’t find anything,” he said.
Greenshields is still among the living, of course, and the creepy experiences of that night were a big part of the inspiration for The Witch of Seven Gables. The supernatural novel is now available from Amazon, in both paperback and for Kindle.
The writing of the book came at the perfect time in Greenshield’s life— he was out of work and facing a great deal of anxiety about his future. “I started having nightmares, and I just needed to express myself. My nightmares had this kind of foreboding theme, so I just kind of felt, you write what you know.”
The beginning of a trilogy
It took roughly a year for the book to come together. The story of a family who unknowingly tempts fate when they build a home on Seven Gables Road, the story is the first part of a planned trilogy of books surrounding the tale of the legendary supernatural being.
“I’m about three chapters into the second book right now,” Greenshields said. “In the first book, you flesh out your characters and you give them a story and a backstory, and then in the second book you put them in the worst possible scenario, and then, [in the] third book, you find some sort of resolution for that.”
For Greenshields, the process of assembling this tale has been a daunting one, and not just because it is the culmination of a lifetime of experiences both behind a keyboard and among the trees. He feels a genuine obligation to do justice to a story that has been passed around campfires for decades. “The response has been really visceral, because it’s a local legend, and it doesn’t belong to me— it belongs to everyone. So I try to be respectful of that because it is everybody’s story.”
“The Witch of Seven Gables: Vol. 1” is available at Amazon.com for $13 paperback or $10 on Kindle. It’s also available to read via Kindle Unlimited.