The premise of her novel is this: In the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, the bones of a white woman are discovered in one of the caskets that floated through town. She’s been murdered and secretly buried in a black cemetery over 30 years before. Her death becomes the intersection for a ritual killer who thinks himself sent by God, the death of a bisexual who knew her identity, and the downfall of the accomplice who unknowingly put her in the grave. Finding the truth becomes a matter of death and consequences for everyone in the killer’s path.
When asked what makes her story unique, Smith smiles and says, “First, The Scent of Gardenia is set in the oldest black incorporated town in America. While a lot of people may know about Princeville, not many know its place in history. I want to bring attention to that. Second, a lot has been written about Hurricane Floyd, but mostly from an academic point of view. I hope enough time has passed that what I have written can be labeled entertaining. But what’s most unique is it’s a story within a story within a story. In fact, one reader called it ‘deliciously complicated.’ North Carolina is rich in legends and mysteries; legends are a southern legacy. As a child, I fell in love with those stories. SOG has four mythic stories that are extracted a children’s book and young adult book so parents and kids are reading the same thing and can talk about it. I think that’s kinda cool.”
Could this become one of North Carolina’s folklores? She grins big this time and says, “Now that would be cool.”
Mary E Blackmon Smith (daughter to James and Lula Caple) attended Shaw and Scotland High Schools, and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina--Pembroke. Smith is a former Manager of Corporate Responsibility for Cummins Engine Company. She has two adult daughters; both attended A&T State University. She now resides in Charlotte, NC.