Magic, Mystery & a Touch of Romance
Local writer Tarrant Smith weaves magic into Madison in “Enchanted Darkly”
story and photo by dianne lively yost
Her book is set in historic Madison, Ga., a place she knows well. “The names have been changed to protect the guilty,” laughs (Stephanie) Tarrant Smith of Rutledge about her just-released, first novel: Enchanted Darkly.
A self-described “kitchen witch,” Smith’s book is true to form, filled with good old fashioned magic, mysterious supernatural characters based on Celtic legend, a local downtown Madison restaurant and a big dose of romance. In short, it’s the perfect literary recipe to stir the imagination and take us into another world within our own hometown.
Smith says she was inspired by Madison and the people in it. “Madison is such a magical place. All the places in the book are real. The book takes a bit of truth and weaves in fantasy to bring the characters to life.” In short, Smith makes magic out of the mundane.
Enchanted Darkly, a self-published book, is the first in a series with the second book, Bound Darkly, slated to be released in September. She is already halfway finished writing the first draft of the third book in the series called Kept Darkly. Today, Enchanted Darkly is available at Dog Ear Books in downtown Madison, Barnes & Noble online and Amazon.com. It’s also available at Smashwords.com for e-book formats and palm-held devices.
Enchanted Darkly is about a young woman finally coming to terms with her magical abilities, ending a doomed marriage and a mundane job all while searching for happiness. It’s also about a small town where everyone knows your business and where eccentrics, true friends and evil enemies live alongside supernatural characters that just can’t resist messing with mortals. Oh and there is this one dark haired, irresistible handsome chef who happens to run a small café in the center of downtown Madison. The book is fun, mystical and (dare I say it?) sexy!
For Smith, writing has been a lifelong passion. “I’ve been writing since middle school.” While a student at Queens College in North Carolina, Smith says her creative writing professor once accused her of plagiarism because her work was literally too good. She kept up with her pursuit of writing in college and her senior year that same creative writing professor advised her of the extreme difficulties involved in getting published without “knowing someone.” In spite of that discouragement, Smith says: “Twenty years later, I’m still writing stories.”
The inspiration to consider self publishing a book was born at Dog Ear Books where she worked part time several years ago. “I met more and more writers that were self published and thought: I could do this.” She did.
Her favorite writing spot is Perk Avenue, a coffee shop and restaurant located in downtown Madison, where you often find Smith in the back corner typing away on her laptop. Along with the coffee and tea, “there’s a creative energy flowing at Perk,” she says. Working alongside friend and fellow writer Mary Payne made it easier for her to write dialogue and to test it out. “After three months I had a first draft, followed by nine months of edits.”
Smith says she received tremendous support from the local community including the Madison Writers Group, copy editor and Madisonian Stephanie Hudak and her friend Mary Payne who also designed the book cover.
Other than the editing process, Smith says the most difficult part of writing the novel was fielding rejection letters from publishers. “I did get offered an e-book contract but I had already decided to self publish.”
When she held the published copy of Enchanted Darkly she was: “So excited! Bouncing-off-the-wall excited! So many people say they’re going to write a book and don’t. To have it physically in your hands . . . that’s its own kind of magic.”