Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest blogger: MG author C.K. Volnek

GhostDog_Cover200x300.jpgWe have a special guest today! C.K. Volnek's new novel, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, combines the historical and the paranormal. I asked her to talk about her research process.

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Thanks for allowing me to visit your blog today, Anne.

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is a tween ghost story, with a twist of Native American folklore, and based on a true American mystery…the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace.

I don’t remember studying the Lost Colony. For years I thought the first colonists landed at Plymouth. After reading an article on the mystery of Roanoke Island, my muse perked up. What could have happened to them? I had to know the when, where, why and how it all happened. I had to research.

Some may groan. Research means reading, studying, examining facts. I used to hate history. I was awful at it. I could never remember or keep all those dates straight. And besides, what did history have to do with today?

Now I have found research interesting, fascinating, captivating. I can get lost in the past’s events. And I’ve found history has everything to do with today. Every situation has a cause and effect theory. What we do today, can and will determine what happens tomorrow.

As in my research for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, I found I had to go back a few years before the Lost Colony to understand the full story. Cause and effect…If Queen Elizabeth had not granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter for the colonization of the land she called ‘Virginia,’ none of this would have happened. If

But it did. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh dispatched two men to explore the Eastern coast of North America. It proved fruitful and a second expedition with a hundred men was sent out, headed by Sir Richard Grenville. The men built a fort and a number of small houses but soon abandoned their adventure. Grenville, however, left a very hideous crime behind. In his exploration, a group of Native Americans had been invited on board one of the ships. A silver cup came up missing and the Indians were blamed. Grenville sent his men to destroy the entire village of Aquascogoc.

Despite the mystery of the Lost Colony, without this crucial piece of history, my story of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island would never have been born. I was so appalled at the intolerance and prejudice my muse grabbed hold of the details and formulated her story. It drove my muse to research even more, even searching to find original manifest of the colonists, digging up pictures and facts of early colonial and Native American life, and details as to why Governor White, after going back to England for supplies, returned to Roanoke Island three years later to find a deserted fort and no clues to the whereabouts of the colonists.

My muse then turned to research the flora and fauna of Roanoke Island. A writer must know details of the area to make the story enchanting and believable. I studied what plants grew in the area, what the terrain looked like, and the layout of the island.

Once I pulled all my research together, added my characters, and threw in a ghost and Native American folklore, the plot of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island became visible. A story, emphasizing how the pain of intolerance and prejudice affects people, flowed from my fingers.

I hope you’ll check out Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island and find out how research built my tale. Even though my story includes a ghost, the history of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island is first-most present and factual.

Thanks again for letting me visit your blog. It’s been fun. I’d love to hear from your readers.

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You can visit C.K. Volnek at her website
and purchase Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island here.


  1. I love that CK combined a ghost and factual events. This book sounds really good!

  2. What happened to settlers on Roanoke Island is a fascinating question. I'd be very interested to see how that is explored in a story for tweens. And it involves a dog! There's a lot to like here!

  3. Hi Anne,
    Thanks for hosting me today. And hello to Kelly and Ken. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I truly love this mystery and hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks!
    C.K. Volnek

  4. Wow, what a huge effort went into research! I think it is such a great idea that you (and your muse) came up with - combining historical facts with fiction. And I'm positive that your research will be what brings your characters alive for your reader.

    Good luck!
    Concilium, July 2012

  5. Sounds like a captivating book.
    I always cringe when I think about research beforehand, but once I get into it, I don't want to stop!

  6. What stuck out was the part on doing research on the flora and fauna of the particular setting. It is minute yet makes a huge difference in making the story even more real for the readers.

    I love historical fiction. And I kinda like ghost fiction, too. Best of luck with this book. I think it'll be a wonderful read!


  7. Hi Michelle, Caludine and inluvwithwords,
    thanks for stopping by and leaving me a message. The research for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island was intense, but it was so interesting. I never enjoyed history in grade school, but this history was FUN!
    Thanks for stopping by.
    C.K. Volnek