While our family was in southern Virginia last week, a new book by Tamy Kay Thompson was released by The History Press/Arcadia Publishing titled Curiosities of Hampton Roads. This is no ordinary history textbook or tour guide. The paperback describes mysterious, eerie, and somewhat ghastly tales and occurrences from the coastal southern cities of Virginia. I was able to acquire a pre-ordered copy at the beginning of our trip, which made our time in Williamsburg even more meaningful. We viewed or toured most of the buildings Thompson describes in chapter four, including the Governor's Palace, the College of William and Mary, and the public hospital, just to name a few. During the candlelit ghost tour, some of the same strange apparitions mentioned by the tour guide were also written about in this book.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the author in her home, and I wanted to share with you what I learned.
Preppy Mountain Farmer: "What led you to write this book?"
Tamy Kay Thompson: "I was interested in the history of America's birthplace, but the research I did wasn't exactly matching the stuff my kids were learning in school. I started digging deeper and uncovered some interesting historical facts that can't be found in mainstream history books, like the fate of the first German immigrants, the true story of John Smith and other early colonists, and the Native American Indians' side of the story. At the same time, I learned that a lot of places in Hampton Roads are considered haunted. Yet none of the books I read combined the historical aspect with the legends. I decided to write a book that did just that, and write it like a tour guide of the area so it could be used by tourists, local residents, and historians alike. Along the way, I discovered some unknown historical sites that deserved some recognition."
Preppy Mountain Farmer: "What was the writing process like and how long did it take?"
Tamy Kay Thompson: "The writing process was difficult at times. I had to decide where to begin, what to include and omit, and how much detail to go into. Plus, I had to visit almost every site to get a feel for it, see it, and photograph it. And, of course, there were countless hours of research involved. Every time I thought I'd read everything there was to read about a specific place, I found something else. The historical section/genealogical room at the Main Street Library was useful, and the librarian stationed there was incredibly helpful. I accessed old books, diaries, newspaper articles, and censuses. I also delved into the deeds, property patents, and public records in downtown Hampton. All-in-all, it took about a year to write, then another few months to edit. But the writing process took much less time than getting it published; it was rejected by numerous publishers over a few years before The History Press/Arcadia Publishing accepted it. On a brighter note, one of my favorite things about researching for the book was taking my kids to several of the sites, which helped them learn more about the area than they ever learned in school.
Preppy Mountain Farmer: "Have you always been interested in these topics?"
Tamy Kay Thompson: "Growing up, I wasn't interested in history and could never memorize specific dates and names of places. As an adult, I began to enjoy learning about American and world history...if it was interesting. I like the bizarre, obscure, and curious stuff. I've always liked ghost stories, strange tales, and historical legends that leave you wondering if they're true or not. I thought Historically Haunted Hampton Roads (which was renamed Curiosities of Hampton Roads by Arcadia Publishing) was an interesting combination of historically accurate facts and strange tales."
I couldn't agree more.
Did I mention that the author just happens to be my little sister?
Copies of Curiosities of Hampton Roads: Ghostly Colonists, Hidden Crypts, The Black Swan of Westover and More can be found at: (Click on any of the links below, and they'll take you directly to her book.)
...and many independently owned, local book stores.