“There is something truer and more real, than what we can see with the eyes, and touch with the finger.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Rappaccini’s Daughter.”
“What is truer than truth? The story.” –Isabel Allende
I have been to Puerto Rico only once, as its far, far-removed granddaughter.
So, how then did I go about writing a story about it?
I made one of the characters a boy who is desperate to solve a mystery that may or may not be his to solve. He loves the island even though he's not from the island, which means he's a stranger despite his best efforts not to be. Another character is a proud girl –she is the island. Its history hisses in her organs and floats through her blood. She doesn’t know why she is the way she is. Well, she does, and she doesn’t. The boy and the girl argue with one another, but also comfort one another. You know how those things go.
I made certain that some of my very favorite things are in the story: big storms, ghosts, love, sacrifice, plants. There may or may not be magic. For sure, though, there’s a strange house. The house holds its secrets close, so all the characters make up stories about it. It makes sense then, that this is how the book starts: The house at the end of the street is full of bad air.
I found a title for my story, a phrase plucked from its inspiration – A Fierce and Subtle Poison. The words refer to the girl who lives in the strange house surrounded by her strange plants, the girl who is the island.
Learn more about A Fierce and Subtle Poison at Samantha's website and follow her on Twitter at @samanthamabry.
Cover designed by Allison Colpoys
Author photo by Laura Burlton