A BOSTONIAN 'SOUTHERN' BOY
Before I introduce you to THE RED FIELD & THE REDEMPTION MOUNTAIN COLLECTION, please allow me a thought or two about my feelings for the American South.
Born a Bostonian and raised in the North, at heart, I am a Southern boy. My mother was a daughter of red dirt and cotton mills, a Southern Baptist of Southern Virginia. She was also a Classical pianist sprung from the land of fiddles and banjos. She came north to marry my father ... A Boston Irish Catholic. (Yes, an adversative pairing if ever there was one. Thus, my credentials as a novelist.)
Most all of my books are set in or travel to the American South. I cannot help it. I find such rich and magical material there. In all that mystique, eccentricity and superstition, my soul is comfortable. I write about it as if I have spent my whole life below Albemarle. I suspect I have, just not this life.
Something in me longs to be a son of the South. I have always been my mother's son, not my father's. Of course, I am well aware of the South's problems (problems from my ideological frame of reference) with religious and political conservatism, racism, sexism, Trumpism. My characters usually have to face those things head on. Yet, I still find and will always find a poetic gentleness and magic and beauty about the South, an enchantment that exists nowhere else in this country. I see and feel the languid magic in its landscapes, its rivers, its mountains, its music, its literature, its stories, its myths, its history, its red dirt, its heat and its proud and individualistic people. I feel nothing of this in the North.
THE REDEMPTION MOUNTAIN TRILOGY begins with THE RED FIELD, in 1928. It is set in a high mountain world that belongs to 19-year-old healer and enchanter Ruby Johnson, a descendant of the Magical Johnson Kinswomen.
It is a world as harsh and dangerous as it is physically and mystically beautiful. It is a world outside of time, far away from the rhythms and demands of the conventional world. It is a world of naturally eccentric and colorful people who blend religion, superstition, and magic into their own brand of spirituality. Everyone is trying to survive. Everyone has his or her own story. THE RED FIELD, the first book of the series, is Ruby’s Story.
THE REDEMPTION MOUNTAIN COLLECTION
The Red Field (Book 1) (Main character: Ruby Johnson) Published June 2017
Still River (Book 2) (Main character: Aniah Galcinda Moray) Published December 2017
Buckhannon (Book 3) (Main character: Anderson Sumner) Underway. Coming in 2018
Soul of the Mountain (Book 4) (Main character: Carter Addison) Underway. Coming in 2019
Angel of Silence (Book 5) (Main character: Gracie Moray) Underway. Coming in 2020
Long Way Home (Book 6) (Main character: Aniah Galcinda Moray) Planned. Coming in 2021
Appalachian Dusk (Book 7) (Main character: Ruby Johnson) Planned. Coming in 2022
Now, please allow me to introduce you to the beautiful and talented Ruby Lee Johnson and her beautiful and dangerous high mountain Southern world…
THE RED FIELD
Book 1 of The Redemption Mountain Trilogy. (Available now! CLICK HERE.) © 2017
Writer's Digest Self-published Literary Ebook Awards for THE RED FIELD. Judge’s Commentary*: "Your way with language is extraordinary. It’s so good that it overcomes several of my acknowledged biases. But beautiful writing is beautiful writing. An excellent book."
In 1928, in the American South, nineteen-year-old Appalachian high-mountain healer Ruby Johnson is the last of two hundred years of Johnson Kinswomen Healers and Enchanters of Redemption Mountain, North Carolina. She is the eldest daughter of infamous Appalachian witch healer Delilah Johnson.
Notorious for their two hundred years of miracle conjurers, spell-casters and white and black magic, the Johnson women have been courting an uneasy peace for decades with their superstitious, Bible-literal Christian neighbors. The very people that go to Johnson women to cure their illnesses, revive their stillborns, talk to their dead kin, change their futures and cast spells for every reason under the sun might just as well shoot a Johnson woman as seek her magical services.
Central to the story, Ruby is the keeper of THE RED FIELD, an up mountain well-hidden family cemetery. In 1864, during the Civil War, the Red Field, then known as the Johnson Cemetery Field, was the scene of a bloody massacre. Yankee soldiers slaughtered twenty-five Johnson kinswomen hiding in their family cemetery from Sherman’s Army. The murdered Johnson women, an act nearly destroying their whole magical lineage, have haunted it since. But transformed it into a powerful and magical place of dazzling red light for healings, charms, and protection.
Tired of being a Johnson, Ruby wants nothing to do with carrying on the family’s magical lineage. She dreams of living a simple and pure life where the harsh realities of Appalachia in the 1920s and 30s and the burden of being a Johnson let her be.
Living amid the poverty, sexism, violence, and ignorance of Appalachia during the early Twentieth Century, overnight, after the death of her magical mother, Ruby’s world changes radically. A series of family tragedies and historical events overrun her. The first, when she is 15, Ruby is thrust into the role of being parent and provider for her five younger brothers and sisters and senile Civil War granddaddy. At her tender age, Ruby must take responsibility for overseeing and protecting the whole Johnson world.
Ruby’s story begins when her young former boyfriend, Lonnie Dale Jessup, is brought home to the mountains after he was hanged for murder at the North Carolina State Penitentiary. The sight of Lonny Dale lying dead and barefoot on the Jessup family’s kitchen table propels Ruby into a crisis of identity. Ruby’s life is an excessively steep uphill climb from there.
A graceful and magical young woman with an extraordinary will and fierce ingenuity, independence and tenacity - and the consummate survivor - Ruby and her journey, half survival and half destiny fulfilled, will capture your imagination, your admiration, and your heart.
Book 2 of The Redemption Mountain Collection. (Available NOW CLICK HERE.) © 2018
In book 2 of The Redemption Mountain Collection, high mountain Appalachian girl Aniah Galcinda Moray is twelve years old when the Confederate Home Guard kills her family—her magical Johnson mother, her Melungeon father, her two brothers, and the baby. Perched high above the scene in a tree house when the massacre takes place, Aniah and her deaf and mute little sister Gracie watch in horrified silence as violent men destroy their world and set the two young girls off on a perilous journey to survive the outer world at the beginning of the American Civil War.
Thrust from their home, Aniah and Gracie travel across the war-torn 1861 American South, heading for Redemption Mountain, where the magical Johnson kinswomen—their only living family, and the only place they will be safe—reside. Being of Melungeon descent, a mythical tri-race of Appalachian people, Aniah has the skin of a black woman, the “sunshine black” hair of Native American descent, and the bright blue eyes of a European. Straddling races and worlds, Aniah’s journey is fraught with hostility, racial tension, the violence of war, coming to terms with her magical abilities, and the ticking awareness of her developing body in a world where men take what they want, especially from a pretty, young mixed-blood girl like Aniah.
Jason Taylor Morgan’s Still River draws on the magical realism, deep character development and beautiful language of its predecessor and book 1 of the series, The Red Field. It is an excellent next installment to the much-loved Redemption Mountain series.
Book 3 of The Redemption Mountain Trilogy. A Retelling of the Book of Genesis.
In Book 3 of The Redemption Mountain Collection, an allegorical fantasy and retelling of The Book of Genesis, Appalachian style, African American child Annabelle Rose Cass is eleven years old when the Ku Klux Klan destroy her sweet small world and kill her large family―her brother, John Thomas, the lone survivor. As a ghost, Annabelle Rose tells their story: brother and sister thrown out of Paradise into the hostile world of the 1920s white Conservative Christian South. Embittered and hateful from the attack, sweet-natured John Thomas is beyond Annabelle’s best ghostly efforts to stop him from avenging their loss and falling into dire and murderous darkness.
On her unexpectedly eccentric afterlife journey, Annabelle Rose meets God. (Yes, him.) A trillion-year-old skinny, banjo-pickin’, black man―Old Lordy―is not coping well after a million years of boredom, and now growing dementia. Searching for a replacement before his mind slips completely, with Annabelle Rose his new associate, they walk the earth―a truly epic one square mile―trying to decide what to do with disappointing (white) humanity. And will a sassy, precocious, eleven-year-old black child become God, the Female?
With great imagination, Black Angels, another of Jason Taylor Morgan’s deeply character-driven magical narratives, offers wide literary scope of heartbreak and vengeance, warmth and insight, mysticism and humor.
SOUL OF THE MOUNTAIN
Book 4 of The Redemption Mountain Trilogy. (In Progress. Available in mid-2020.)
Set in the rural South in the 1930s, it is the story young Carter Addison, a third cousin to Ruby Johnson of THE RED FIELD. Carter is a fiddle genius. From the first time Carter slid a fiddle out from under a sleeping drunk and touched bow to strings at five-years-old, he could play with stunning natural skill.
The first-person account brings the reader into Carter's gentle mind and musical world. While Carter and his brother, Jim, are working at a Government work project to build roads through the mountains to connect remote towns on both sides, they are caught up in a tragic construction accident. The old Caterpillar digger that Jim is handling overheats and explodes, killing Jim and blinding Carter.
While bringing Carter down the mountain on a closed road to the hospital, the car carrying him crashes and tumbles down a long lethal cliff, killing the driver. Injured again, Carter finds himself is a remote part of the mountains, alone, scared and blind.
SOUL OF THE MOUNTAIN is the story of how Carter adjusts to his blind world. And with the help of Mockingbird Man, a black man who ‘adopts’ Carter and is a powerful enchanter; Carter evolves over time into the famous though elusive mystic, The Blind Fiddler. People from all over the world travel to Carter’s mountain in the Appalachians to search for him. To sit with him. To be healed by him. To be enlightened by him. All he does is play his fiddle.
Carter, many times, finds his way to a town or to an area with people. Each time, he chooses to return to his visually dark world. But a world alive with magic and heightened senses where everything is felt and experienced by sound and energy, vibration and tone, feeling senses and frequencies, and purity, beauty and tone. Carter lives in a vibrational world of the evolved human future. He got there in the poverty and ignorance in the 1930’s American South, through tragic circumstances. He got there by himself.