When my husband suggested, 25 years ago, that we move to the Eastern Shore of Maryland from the DC suburbs where I’d grown up, I must admit, I was reluctant. I had a list of reasons why I didn’t want to move: it was too far to commute, I didn’t know anyone, there was nothing to do across the Chesapeake Bay bridge. To me the Eastern Shore was a pass-through on the way to the beach in Ocean City. But it didn’t take long once I was there to discover how wrong I was.
The mystique of the vast network of creeks and rivers that lead to the bay, the abundance of wildlife, the myriad of fascinating places to visit, but mostly the warm, interesting, and at times, eccentric residents, made me realize I had found a truly inspirational gem.
The Chesapeake Bay, a unique estuary, rich in history and beauty, provides the perfect setting for any story. It’s like stepping back in time, watching the fishing boats head out at sunrise through misty fog or walking down the cobbled streets of the quaint towns lined with historic homes. And I soon learned that with that history came numerous accounts of places that were haunted. Everywhere I went, I heard tales of paranormal activity, from Wish Sheppard, who in 1915 was arrested for rape, but swore he was innocent until the day he died, and whose hand print mysteriously keeps reappearing on the cell wall at the Denton Jail no matter how many times they paint over it, to Sara at Poplar Hill Mansion in Salisbury, a servant who in the early 1800s tragically died in a fire and is said to come back to the house, periodically.
And then one day I was having a conversation with my neighbor, whose father had once owned the farm that we now live on. He told me that several years before we moved to the farm, his father had been living in a house down the road about a quarter mile away and had been fatally shot by an unknown assailant on his doorstep. The mystery is still unsolved to this day. But what really caught my attention was when my neighbor said that his father had been seen walking the halls of the home where he was killed long after the shooting.
I was hooked. I knew there was a story just waiting to be told. And that’s when I began working on Haverford House (CreateSpace, 2013), the story of Josh and Libby Langston who move from Baltimore to the small town of Corsica, buying a house that had sat abandoned for many years. A house that had been built in the 1800’s by a sea captain, James Haverford, for his wife and children. Libby, who has the summer off from teaching, discovers that the house has secrets and that someone is trying to get her to shed light on them. Set against the mystically beautiful waters of the bay, Libby is soon drawn into the intriguing mysteries that the house has kept hidden.
In Belle Grove (CreateSpace, November 2016), the second in the Corsica Series, the town comes to life again, when Libby finds herself faced with another puzzle to be solved. Both novels are not only rich in setting detail but have unique characters that were inspired from actual residents of the Shore.
Since writing my novels, I’ve had a number of people ask me if I believe in ghosts. And although I’ve never had an actual encounter with one, sometimes when I’m by myself, riding my horse along the tree line of the farm and I gaze up at the gentle honking of a flock of snow geese, flying overhead, their wings tipped coral from the setting sun, I feel a gush of cool air whip by me, hear the fluttering leaves that settle in the woods and I wonder if maybe I’m not alone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine Winfield is a seventh-generation Washingtonian currently residing on a farm nestled in the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The rich culture of the Eastern Shore provides the setting for her novels, and the colorful inhabitants of the region serve as inspiration for her unique characters. Winfield has been writing for more than thirty years, all while running a business with her husband, raising three kids and caring for countless animals. For more information, visit www.katherinewinfield.com and connect with her on Facebook.