a "behind-the-scenes" article about why I used superstitions in my young adult novel, Silverweed.
The superstition references in Silverweed are a combination of my grandfather’s stories and an informative superstitions dictionary.
I’d never really been that superstitious, except for doing things like tossing salt over both my shoulders—yes, both because I didn’t know which one was correct. However, my interest sparked a few years ago when my mom told me about my grandfather’s childhood stories. Apparently, his mother (pictured on the left – my great-grandmother – I think I kind of look like her) died when my grandpa was five-years-old; it happened the day after she told him to stop shooing the birds away that had landed on their front porch, because it meant death. Kind of crazy. My grandfather had also told my mom that one day he had watched the devil walking out in his
Alabama woods, pitchfork and all. (You might recognize that from the first chapter of Silverweed.)
Around the same time my mom was reminiscing, I was writing the rough draft of a short story, and all of these memories set the entire mood for “Silverweed Muffins” which eventually became Silverweed the novel.
As I was writing the story, I researched superstitions. It took me awhile but I finally found a reference book I really liked, Dictionary of Superstitions by David Pickering. Even if you don’t need the book for reference, it's interesting to see how our lives today are influenced by these superstitions from the past. BTW – the correct shoulder to throw salt over is the left one.
Warning: the book may alter behavior…
I know that the fox that crossed my path on the way home meant good luck - but then my mom saw one in my backyard (if a fox lingers near the home) and that means bad luck - oh well I guess they cancel each other out…
Okay, so I’m still not as superstitious as my grandfather or my great-grandmother were, but I might take a few more precautions. :)