PR for People Monthly September 2017 - Page 29

Barbara Garrity-Blake is a cultural anthropologist, long interested in the 21 villages along the byway from the north end of Hatteras through the Down East region of Carteret County; she lives in Gloucester, N.C.

Karen Willis Amspacher, director of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harkers Island, is descended from Shackleford Banks fishermen and boatbuilders and lives in Marshallberg, N.C. She is the editor of the best-selling collection, Island Born & Bred, and the Founder and Editor of The Mailboat periodical.

Living at the Water’s Edge: A Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway (Southern Gateways Guides): The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway received its designation in 2009, an act that stands as a testament to the historical and cultural importance of the communities linked along the North Carolina coast from Whalebone Junction across to Hatteras and Ocracoke Island and down to the small villages of the Core Sound region. This rich heritage guide introduces readers to the places and people that have made the route and the region a national treasure. Welcoming visitors on a journey across sounds and inlets into villages and through two national seashores, Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher share the stories of people who have shaped their lives out of saltwater and sand. The book considers how the Outer Banks residents have stood their ground and maintained a vibrant way of life while adapting to constant change that is fundamental to life where water meets the land.

Heavily illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs, Living at the Water’s Edge will lead readers to the proverbial porch of the Outer Banks locals, extending a warm welcome to visitors while encouraging them to understand what many never see or hear: the stories, feelings, and meanings that offer a cultural dimension to the byway experience and deepen the visitor's understanding of life on the tideline.

Faktorovich: How did the two of you work on this book together? How did you split duties? Did each of you write sections or did one of you focus more on editing? Did you separate the content into parts that each of you was an expert in? Based on your experience with co-writing, do you have any advice for other co-writers? How can they make the process of writing a book with somebody else smoother? Did you face any difficulties?

Garrity-Blake: We more or less split duties: we each took the lead writing two of our four thematic chapters in the first part of the book. Then, I focused more on the Hatteras and Ocracoke “crossing” sections, while Karen took Down East. This is because I’d done a lot of oral history work and fisheries research along the northern Outer Banks, and Karen has devoted her career to preserving and celebrating the cultural traditions of Down East. I think Karen would agree with me that co-writing is no easy task. It’s sort of like building a bridge from opposite shores, only to meet up in the middle and realize you’re off by about a quarter inch. Both of our contributions are good, but invariably a little different in style because you’ve lived in your head as writers must do.

So then it’s a process of revision, revision, revision until your “visions” are more in alignment. The hardest part about this project was our different voices and perspectives: Karen is the insider, born and raised, who can say “this is who we are,” or “this is how we talk.” I’m “from off,” as they say, despite almost 30 years living in this community. So I wrote with more of a researcher’s eye, and struggled with our occasional shift from 3rd person to 1st person. In the end, however, I think our different perspectives made for a richer narrative.

Amspacher: It was a struggle, but working with me in any capacity is a STRUGGLE, but especially with writing—the hardest work of all!

Once we had determined the format (first section, themes; second section, communities) we divided them based on our knowledge, etc. Barbara took the lead on water and land, and I took the lead on people and change. She took Hatteras communities and I took Down East communities; we shared Ocracoke.

As the process moved forward (slowly), Barbara’s skills and experience as a writer became the “lifesaver” of the book. She created excellent narrative that got us underway and then it was the process of rewriting, cutting and pasting, moving stories around to best illustrate the theme or tell each community’s unique story.

Our culture is so interconnected that determining where to tell which story was often a hard decision. For example, do we talk about boatbuilding with water (the boat), or people (the builder), or Harkers Island (the tradition)? Some stories fit anywhere and everywhere because every community had a mid-wife, a working waterfront and a favorite character that was bigger than life, and yet there were stories that were unique to one place, i.e., Muse at Ocracoke and Old Christmas at Rodanthe.

And yes, there were struggles. Barbara’s voice was much clearer and written in a way that outsiders would understand and appreciate. My perspective was from the inside, writing about MY people that I have loved all my life, so I felt a heavy responsibility to tell it in a way they would approve and understand, and support! That was very difficult and burdensome, but a responsibility I was determined to keep. We worked through it and hopefully the book has enough explanation to be informative and readable for visitors from everywhere, yet personal and detailed enough for others who like me have been here since before they were born and feel very protective and possessive of these places.