North Carolina is better known for tales of ghosts in the hills than fairies and magic. But that didn't stop fantasy and science fiction novelist Warren Rochelle from setting his latest book, Harvest of Changelings ($24.95, Golden Gryphon Press), against the backdrop of the Triangle.
Changelings concerns a Garner man who sires a child with a woman from Faerie, who must join with similar half-breed children to both battle mystic evil and survive human prejudice. "I've always believed on some level that fairy tales are true, even if it's just a metaphoric truth," says Rochelle, a Durham native. "I kind of felt that I needed to write out of who I was, and where I was from, and I liked the idea of having magic intersect with the real."
Rochelle's no stranger to using this state as a setting—his 2001 novel The Wild Boy starts in the ruins of Greensboro. For Changelings, he drew not only from his experience growing up in the area but as a school librarian in Raleigh and Rocky Mount. "That was a powerful part of drawing upon my personal experiences to help make the characters more believable" says Rochelle, who adds that the novel deals with "the darker side of childhood.... The pressure of being gifted itself makes you different enough that the world is confusing to you as well."
Though Rochelle currently lives in Fredericksburg, Va., he says he still considers himself "a Triangle local." He's working on the sequel to Changelings, which will follow the characters as adults. "I hope to keep mining the territory of North Carolina and eventually Virginia for these stories of fairies," Rochelle says. "If you write about where you're from and where you are, I think it lends a power to the work."
Rochelle will read from Harvest of Changelings at the Southpoint Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. Jan. 17; Quail Ridge Books at 7 p.m. Jan. 18; and UNC-Chapel Hill's Greenlaw Hall at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 7.