|Pub Date: 8-23-22|
Adult - Fantasy/Romance
Emerson Wilde owns a bookstore in a small Missouri town. She's also descended from a witch who was hanged in 1692 during the Salem Witch Trials, and the youngest ever Chamber of Commerce president. Emerson loves her town, but when setting up for an annual festival, Emerson notices strange things going on. Paranormal creatures seem to be stalking Emerson, sent by her lifelong arch-rival. When Emerson's long-dormant powers start to come back, she, along with her childhood friend, must work together defeat the ancient evil that's been awakened before everything she loves is destroyed.
If you google my name—something I only do every other Tuesday because ego surfing is an indulgence and I keep my indulgences on a strict schedule—the first twenty hits are about the hanging of Sarah Emerson Wilde in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts.
Only after all those witch hits—three pages in—will you get to me, Emerson Wilde. Not a tragically executed woman accused of witchcraft by overwrought zealots, but a bookstore owner and chamber of commerce president. The youngest chamber of commerce president in the history of St. Cyprian, Missouri, not that I like to brag.
Men are applauded for embellishing the truth while women are seen as very confident for telling the truth—and very confident is never a compliment.
If you slog past all the Crucible references and sad YouTube videos from disaffected teens with too much eye makeup, you might read about how my committed rejuvenation efforts have brought ten new businesses to St. Cyprian in the past five years. You might read about our Christmas around the World Festival which, thanks to my hard work and total commitment, brings people from—you guessed it—all around the world. You could read any number of articles about what I’ve done to help St. Cyprian, because it’s not a good day unless I’ve done something to support the town I love best.
And I pride myself on making every day a good day.
Even if most people read about Sarah and the witch trials and stop there, I know the truth about her. I learned all about my notorious ancestor while researching a presentation for my fourth-grade class.
My peers might have preferred Skip Simon’s bold and unlikely claims that he was a direct descendent of the outlaw Jesse James, but learning about Sarah changed my life. The reality of Sarah Emerson Wilde is that she was a fierce feminist who wanted to play by her own rules. A nonconformist who wasn’t interested in playing the perfect Puritan, and therefore a direct threat to the Powers That Be. Following her own rules, ignoring theirs, and trumpeting her independence got her killed.
Sarah wasn’t only a tragic figure. She was also a fierce martyr who would have hated being called either.
In retrospect, it was maybe too much for Miss Timpkin’s fourth-grade class.
But ever since then I’ve considered Sarah my guiding light. I’m proud to have such an exceptional, indomitable woman in my family tree. My great-grandmother times nine, to be precise. I’ve always felt that I owe it to myself, the Wilde name, and Sarah to be a strong, independent woman who doesn’t let the patriarchy or anything else get her down for long.
“And I don’t,” I announce brightly to the quiet of the early-morning kitchen of my family’s historic house.
It’s a Tuesday in March and I have plans. I always have plans. It’s what I do, but these are particularly epic, even for me. I might have been born too late to speak feminist truth to Puritan patriarchal power, but I have my own calling.
I am here to make St. Cyprian a better place.
You can’t fix the world until you sort out your own backyard. I intend to do both.
Since my first St. Cyprian community project with my second-grade class, I have put everything I am into this shining jewel of a river town, the people lucky enough to live here, and the shops that carve out their spots on the cobbled streets—like my own intensely independent bookstore.
For all the women who came before me who weren’t allowed. Or those who carved out their way and were shunned for it.