HAHIRA – Readers may think author Robert Spearman based his latest novel, “Obadiah: A Ghost’s Story,” on a legend from the north Lowndes County town.
He based some of the details on Hahira’s past but Spearman’s imagination created the tale of a ghost helping a family early in the 20th century. The family runs a store and is heir to a secret fortune. Obadiah is a spirit left behind to help the family, especially the young daughter who can see him.
“My muse for the story actually came to me one night in bed as I was thinking that it would be neat if turn-of-the-century Hahira had a ghost story,” Spearman said. “Then the thought came to me that even better if the story was told by the ghost. The old Southern expression of ‘kicking the bucket’ came to mind and I wrote the last two paragraphs of the story first. From there I came up with the beginnings of the story and wrote to that end. Having the end in mind was a fun way to write, the challenge was how to incorporate the bucket into the beginning of the story and have it serve a purpose until the end.”
Spearman has spent the past several weeks in South Georgia, visiting family and promoting his book. He lives and works in Asia. “Obadiah” is his second book. His first novel, “Carnies and Wildcats,” was released in 2015 and it was set in a fictional version of Valdosta.
For “Obadiah,” Spearman said he imagined what Hahira may have been like in the early 1900s.
But writers write what they know. While the story of a ghost helping a family with a prescient daughter may be fantasy, Spearman created his story on a foundation of memory.
“There is a building in Hahira called the L.M. Stanfill building and the marble threshold reads, ‘L.M. Stanfill—A.D, 1911.’ Mr. Stanfill had a daughter named Avie, and she never married,” Spearman said. “In 1963, my parents bought the L.M. Stanfill home, an old Victorian-style home near downtown, and my 6-year-old mind became convinced it was haunted. My various English teachers in junior high and high school had us write stories and I always turned to the old haunted house where I lived.
“It was a dream come true to finally write a book that was partially modeled after the home where I grew up and to pattern the store after Mr. Stanfill’s store.”
Writing has become a regular part of Spearman’s life.
He is working on about seven books, he said.
He has sequels planned for “Obadiah” and for “Carnies and Wildcats.” The “Carnies” sequels are tentatively titled “Escape from Oddities” and “Seiffert’s Last Stand,” he said.
But he’s more tempted to write two new storylines.
“First, ‘The Shroud’ — a Dan Brown-type book based on the Shroud of Turin. … Imagine the Shroud of Turin meeting the DNA extraction and cloning science from ‘Jurassic Park,'” Spearman said. “Second, ‘Titus Troxham’s Treasure Trove,’ a horror novel about a toy store in a small Alabama town that is more than what anyone imagines. It’s my take on (Stephen) King’s ‘It’ combined with his ‘Needful Things.’
“Who knows? Maybe I will attempt the herculean task of writing four books at one time.”
Spearman said he plans to stay in South Georgia until about Aug. 20-21.
“Obadiah” is available at Book and Table in Downtown Valdosta.