Have you ever seen Hart of Dixie? I didn’t until long after I’d sold COMPULSION
Heirs of Watson Island series, but I fell in love with it from the
first episode. It was as close as anything I’d ever seen of having the world I’d
created on Watson Island come to life. All that Southern charm, warmth, romance,
intrigue, and beneath the surface, darker secrets. Compulsion is a little
darker, think of it is as Hart of Dixie meets Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil. Hart of Dixie with ghosts, magic, and buried
treasure. Hart of Dixie with a teenage girl who has to find herself, find
a family, find a way to navigate first love—good thing, I guess, that she has a
family gift for finding lost things.
Apart from the characters—and I include the plantations and Watson Island among
the characters—the gifts and the curse that haunt the three families in the Heirs of
Watson Island trilogy are my favorite aspects of the series.
There are three of them:
1. The Watsons have a gift for finding lost things, but the flip side is that
they are compelled to find them. Not that you always want to find them.
Barrie finds her missing half, her soulmate, at the most inconvenient time, and
she fights her gift and her instincts as she falls in love. She also uncovers a
lot of buried secrets that were safer left out of sight.
2. The Beauforts have a gift for knowing what people want most, but they feel
compelled to give it to them. Imagine falling in love with someone like that
—do they love you for yourself, or do they love you because you want them to
love you? Do you love them because they know just what you want to hear? Or are
your feelings real?
3. The Colesworths are cursed to always want what the Watsons and the
Beauforts want most and never get it. But what happens when what they want
keeps changing, and when ultimately what they want most is each other? To what
lengths can the curse push someone, and how much of the tragic history of the
Colesworths is the curse and how much is the result of poor and purely human
People ask me where the inspiration for all this magic came from, and I’ve
always said that I wasn’t really certain. That it was part of that alchemy that
makes me want to believe in Muses or things beyond what our human eyes can see
and our human fingers can touch.
I recently did an interview for MTV though, and the reporter asked me some
really insightful questions. Some OH DUH questions. And I realized that the
inspiration for the gifts comes, as most inspiration does, from my own life, and
my own philosophy, from my childhood.
As a child, my parents and I defected from what is now the Czech Republic to
escape from communism. To look for freedom. We left with nothing, no money, few
possessions, and we went first to Denmark for a year, and then to Norway for a
year, and then we finally settled in the United States when I was seven.
I spent a lot of my childhood when we came to this country looking for lost
things. The family I had lost and left behind. The friends I lost each time we
moved. The lost trust in people and stability. Ultimately, in the series, Barrie
is looking for herself, and part of what she has to discover is whether she is
the kind of person who trusts the good in people, or the kind of person who
protects herself and braces for betrayal each time she meets someone. I do think
it takes a decision to see the good, to look for the good. And that’s a decision
I choose to make.
The Beaufort gift is another thing that comes from my own past. I suspect it
comes from not knowing my mother well before we moved to Denmark—I had spent a
lot of time with my grandmother and my father—and not knowing my stepfather well
at all. Not speaking the languages as we arrived in each place and having to
learn to navigate new social structures, I was constantly trying to please
people—to see what would please people—and feeling compelled to be whatever
those people wanted instead of being myself. After a while, I think you lose
yourself. And of course, after a while, you rebel and you come out the other
side having arrived at a point where you feel comfortable. But I don’t think
I’ve ever lost the need to try to understand people’s motives.
The curse. Ah, that one’s easy, I think. It comes from a place where you have
everything yanked away. My mother and stepfather had a child almost immediately
after we left, and while it honestly wasn’t their fault, I think I always felt
as though I was the ugly duckling who didn’t belong in that family nest. Then
when we came to the United States, my mother taught at a private school, and I
was lucky enough to get to go there—but while we were still quite poor, my
classmates decidedly were not. I know what it’s like to have that disparity. It
makes you hungry. It makes you jealous. It makes you a little ugly. And you have
to find your way out of that, because no one can lead you out of it.
For each of us, our childhoods bring us both gifts and curses. Each gift has a
drawback, and each curse has a silver lining. It’s up to us to learn to mold
those and make them work for us instead of work against us.
Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before
learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in
them. She’s the author of SIBA Book Award nominated Compulsion, book one in the
romantic Southern Gothic trilogy, the Heirs of Watson Island, which was a Fall
’14 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, a Kansas State
Reading Circle selection, Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of
the Month, and an RT Magazine Best of 2014 Editor’s Pick. The second book in the
trilogy, Persuasion, will be published in October 2015.
She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101
Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to the
discovery and celebration of young adult literature and encouraging literacy
through YA series.
From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and a
lopsided cat, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of
magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to
travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads | Blog
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES meets Gone with the Wind in the spellbinding second
novel in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy that “skillfully blends rich magic
and folklore with adventure, sweeping romance, and hidden treasure” (Publishers
Weekly, on Compulsion).
Grieving the death of her godfather and haunted by her cousin Cassie’s betrayal,
Barrie returns from a trip to San Francisco to find the Watson plantation under
siege. Ghost-hunters hope to glimpse the ancient spirit who sets the river on
fire each night, and reporters chase rumors of a stolen shipment of Civil War
gold that may be hidden at Colesworth Place. The chaos turns dangerous as Cassie
hires a team of archeologists to excavate beneath the mansion ruins. Because
more is buried there than treasure.
A stranger filled with magic arrives at Watson’s Landing claiming that the key
to the Watson and Beaufort gifts—and the Colesworth curse—also lies beneath the
mansion. With a mix of threats and promises, the man convinces Barrie and Cassie
to cast a spell there at midnight. But what he conjures may have deadly
While Barrie struggles to make sense of the escalating peril and her growing
feelings for Eight Beaufort, it’s impossible to know whom to trust and what to
fight for—Eight or herself. Millions of dollars and the fate of the founding
families is at stake. Now Barrie must choose between what she feels deep in her
heart and what will keep Watson’s Landing safe in this stunning addition to a
series filled with “decadent settings, mysterious magic, and family histories
rife with debauchery” (Kirkus Reviews, on Compulsion).
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