Legend of the Crossin’ Tree Witch
Book to Film
Mr. Christopher Laro
RAVENWOLF, Inc. llp
P.O. Box 94
This is a serious creative offering to screenwriters and female writers especially, by author S.W. Laro. What is, Delcina’s Tree? As the paperback cover suggests, the tree is a mystical symbol of transcendence for the dying, thus the name, crossin’ tree. Due to the drought of quality Afro-American cinema in HollyWood, cable and t.v., this story about a Jamaican girl who finds a strange seedling on a beach that changes her entire life for the next 100 years, can be the next epic story depicting black/Afro-centric characters from the Caribbean. At a time in our culture when women are expanding their global power in all areas of life, politically, socially, and professionally, Delcina’s Tree focuses on a young woman being mentored spiritually, by something as simple as a seed, from a salty puddle.
As I’ve asked before, haven’t we had enough of slave films and mini-series showing the brutality black people have endured at the hands of white Europeans? ‘Delcina’s Tree’ narrates a truly unique story following the life of an immortal tree witch and a woman who becomes the eternal caretaker for those she loves. At the core of the book is female power learned through the filter of the forest and Mother Nature. The most influential people in the novel other than the male protagonist Jacob Hallier Longwood, are women like Missy Red, the rum runner and mystical tree woman young Delcina meets as a girl, after she finds the seed. Del’s mother Adara, mends her daughter when she is gripped by a terrible fever lasting days. Then, behind her back, Adara’s sister Udalane brings her sick niece to see the witch woman in the woods. So begins a lasting mentorship about the seed and its power to conjure the rising of the ‘crossin’ tree’ for the dying. It is a tale of romance and adoration between two people from different worlds as Jacob and Delcinas cultivate a deeply connected relationship lasting a century.
- To adapt the novel to screenplay by a female writer
- Offer script to buyers for film rights (option) or buy out
‘The legend of The Transcence Vital is a Caribbean myth about a sect of women who could speak to and conjure, trees. The ‘crossin’ tree’ is one that embraces and guides those about to die so they can meet their beloveds. There were perhaps a handful of women able to perform this ritual in the most powerful ways up until the late 20th Century. One of them, Ms. Delcina Brown of Montego Bay, Jamaica was the last. She was a domestic caretaker, mother, and wife. Immortal. Inasmuch as she was part of the Longwood family in Vermont her true roots lay in Chatham Parish where she was born. There with the help of her granddaughter Agatha, Delcina too transcended when it was her time to see the Mother crossin’ tree. This is her story and of a strange seedling she found on a beach that changed her entire life.’
S.W. Laro (author)
Original novel by S.W. Laro
- RAVENWOLF, INC – LLP – 20016
(to request a release form to review sample chapters of novel in ms proofs, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, visit Amazon Books to purchase the book as ebook for Kindle and paperback) http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=a9_sc_1?rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3Adelcinas+tree&keywords=delcinas+tree&ie=UTF8&qid=1460906884
Genre: (Spiritual Drama/Fantasy for print, mini-series & film)
Audience: Persons interested in mystical fiction grounded in real life &/or fascinated by emotionally potent ’Holiday’ fables about STRONG AFRO-AMERICAN/JAMAICAN FEMALES.
Locations: Rural Vermont (different seasons), Kingston & Montego Bay, Jamaica
The tale is based on the woman who raised me of the same name, Delcina Brown. More than a Jamaican ‘second mother,’ mentor and best friend during my troubled youth, she was for me a timeless example of maternal strength and compassion. I tried to illustrate this ‘feeling’ in my fiction, creating for the reader a woman of spiritual power and mystical soul. An immortal kind of ‘being’ with a special gift – she is able to conjure what is called the ‘Crossin’ Tree’ for the dying. The Mother Tree is a mythic leviathan tree manifested by a strange seedling young Delcina finds on an island beach as a girl. She is part of a long line of ‘tree witches’ from the time of Nanny of the Maroons history of 1700s Jamaica.
The story goes beyond the average caretaker/employer ‘theme’ (‘Corrina, Corrina,’ ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ ‘Color Purple,’ ‘Roots,’ ’The Hepl,’ et al) and IS an intense accounting of how a woman, chosen in her youth to be the keeper of a great spiritual secret, shares it with those she loves. It is Delcina who shows those she loves that Transcendence can be a welcoming truth NOT to be feared. How she does so, IS the compelling question a reader & audience member will want to have answered. The novel creates an authentic Jamaican patois for dialog. This style may or may not be a selling point for book since readers in America prefer status-quo dialog. The written style for Mr. Laro’s work does not cater to cookie cutter dialog. The book was primarily written for Jamaican audiences/readers (overseas markets) but since there is a drought of impacting roles for female actors in Hollywood, ‘Delcina’s Tree’ and its authentic approach to dialog to drive the narrative and audience domestically.
“Me wish me pray ta’ see a site’ dis’ day, come ‘n hear we plea. Show we your power, our Great Mother Tree, of you n’ us in me…” so Delcina recites in her Jamaican patois when calling to her Mother Tree. Indeed, I sometimes write character dialog in the phonetic, the way people really speak, never generic speech in my fiction. For this narrative I do employ authentic Jamaican patois per character/scene. The readers who would welcome this kind of book would be those people already use to such dialog style. NOTE: I also feel, as author, that currently the use of abusive and racially offensive language for afro-american roles in cinema has gone beyond acceptable degrees, i.e. Hateful Eight, Jango and many others. It is time for HollyWood to create a film story about a powerful black female using spiritual fantasy to do so MINUS bigoted verbiage and stereotypes.
So…what is the Crossin’ Tree?
A dream/vision or,
A psychological awareness of ‘one possible’ transcendence?
Walking on Morant Bay beach in Kingston, Jamaica (her birth home) young Del finds a strange looking seedling in the wet sand. She’s fascinated by it and while swimming in a cove, is attacked by an unknown spiritual force she believes has come from within the seed. From that day onward, Delcina is compelled to conjure her Mother Tree vision for those about to Transcend: (excerpt)
‘Young Delcina walked alone down a sandy beach on Morant Bay, the sun bathing her in multi-colored heat. Over her shoulder she carried a leather pack filled with breadfruit, sugar cane and mango. The waves cracked against a jetty and the salty aroma of the ocean, strangely soft and welcoming, swarmed her. She skipped and hummed a sweet melody her mother taught her when she was a child. “’Come take me o’way oh Mother sea n’ show me your smile.’ Me wish to swim wit’ th’ sea people under Your heart, safe in me knowin’ you will hold me a’while, us nevuh’ to be apart…’”
She glanced down and noticed by chance a shiny object lying in the muddied sand. She leaned down to pick up the object and washed it off in a salty puddle by her bare feet. Wasn’t a shell or jellyfish or piece of glass, but a plain looking seedling of some type she never saw before, looking up at her. She caressed the seed feeling its basic oval shape and peach like fur covering the surface. She stood up and skipped down the beach holding the seed like a sacred jewel, speaking to it as if she had met a new friend.
Later in the afternoon she sat in a palm and coconut grove to eat her lunch of salt-fish and onion saving the delicious Blackie mango her mother gave her, for last. Gulls hovered. Butterflies scampered atop the hot sea winds. All was peaceful and content; her back supported by the tall angled breadfruit and paw-paw trees that seemed to be watching her. She looked up as the sun stung her eyes and with one hand, shielded the intensity of the rays to see the top of the trees gently swaying, as if the long green leaves were inviting her to join them. Beside her, the seed lay ‘pon the sand begging for her attention. When she finished the mango, Del retrieved the seed, for closer inspection.
“Me wonduh’ mon, who you is,” she asked. “Me nah know m’friend. Me jus’ wonduh’ hmmmm….”
As you read in the sample chaps, the tale opens with Jacob Hallier Longwood (the old ‘Bear’ as he’s known & owner of the Green Mountain Railroad) wrestling with a reoccurring nightmare – a horrible unfading memory of his boyhood friend ‘Nathaniel’ and an event that’s haunted him all his life. Who Nate is and what exactly took place the night he and Jacob rode the train up to Canada, is the second mystery a reader will want answered. Once Delcina tip toes into the old man’s bedroom to check on him, we as an audience need to know who she is and why she’s caring for a dying railroad tycoon in Vermont: (excerpt)
‘…And in the bluish strobes penetrating the window, he saw her there wearing a patterned night frock. Delcina was sepia porcelain with graying temples and the haunted eyes of a timeless sage. Her face unbroken by wrinkles disallowed the engravings of Time and was in truth, quite the same face he had known as a boy. Del was old yet possessed the protective vitality of a young mother caring for her babes, all strength and uncompromising pose. At ninety- nine years she was an imposing example of the secret magic that allows a woman to triumph over age — the simplicity of mystery. She knew of her true birth. Everyone else, however, did not. And if questions arose as to her longevity, Delcina would laugh demurely or ignore any obligation to answer. Truth was and for all who knew her, she didn’t look a day older than fifty. One might say of Delcina Brown, that she was immortal and possessed the secret of long life given to her by adoring spirits…’
Inasmuch as the tale is about Delcina Brown, it’s also a story of love and friendship born decades ago when Jacob was a young boy working for his dad’s railroad, Theodore Longwood, who inherited the rail line from his father, Waldo. It’s the dual story in ONE fiction that makes DELCINA’S TREE so special. As well as, the unique connection as man and woman he and Delcina share when Jacob discovers that she’s the keeper of Mother Tree. It is a sexual romance that spans decades from 1900’s to 2010 and beyond when the tale finally ends later in the 21st Century.
It’s about the ‘Transcendent friendship’ between a man and woman unlikely to ever have known each other in another circumstance. It IS a tale of hope.
“Spent m’whole damn life doin’ big things,” old man Jacob ranted. “Mediocrity, it’s the death of hope boys. Like tele-evangelists, weak men and them rancid child killers! Nevuh’ been mediocre a day in m’life.” Jacob’s thoughts wandered right then, his angry mood becoming more solemn. He stood before the French glass doors of the library and stared out across the snowy deck. “Man’s got to be steel, like the trains. But I’m rustin’ up now and need to see Her tree,” Jacob whispered. “It’s time. Time to go up and see your crossin’ tree Del. God damn it, you’re the only woman I ever loved…’”
Many times in the story we hear Jacob speaking of her in respectful & adoring ways. No matter his randy attitude towards others, his devotion to family, work and to the mysterious Delcina Brown is never in doubt. And NEVER do we view Del as a servant, maid or abused employee. She’s the matriarch of the Longwood family. The one reliable foundation presence, everyone rallies around. Further, what the reader thinks the tale is will soon take unexpected turns as we travel back in time to Jamaica following Del as she reunites with her family. A sub-plot focuses on Delcina being an immigrant having to send money home to support her younger daughters being raised by her husband, mother and an Aunty. The more linear aspects of the story deal with a woman who left her family to come to America in order to give them a better life. Ultimately, Delcina and Jacob’s money help to bring her entire kin to the U.S. over decades.
Going back even further, we finally discover how Delcina was taught to be a woods witch and caller of the trees by the mysterious native Maroon known as Missy Loreta ‘Red’ Jones. The scenes between a young Delcina being tutored by Missy Red are stand out sequences involving her witch like education related to nature, herbs and being a rum runner and sometimes pirate, we see along with young Del the impact of Missy Red: (excerpt)
‘“Us wait chile,” she said and so they did, for an hour or more listening to the horrid singing voice of the strange woman from inside the shanty house. But soon, the bushes shuffled and gyrated and just behind a more lovely singing voice, was Missy Red, stepping out from the woods onto the front yard of her home. Immediately out of respect Aunty Laney arose from the bench and pulled Delcina up with her. “Such a gore’juss aftuh’noon,” the towering form of Missy Red stated, pausing in the yard to see them standing there. Young Delcina couldn’t take her stare off of the grand looking woman, her perfectly round face with pure skin tone, bluish eyes, rotund breast, and legs, gave her a fright. Never in her life had she seen such a spooky and pretty female. ’Cept for the naturally healthy and strong appearances of her Aunty and mother Adara, Missy Red seemed to have been cut from a different stock of woman. Out of another time and space Delcina only heard of in fireside stories. Even her plain white headscarf looked placed atop her head by angels. The brownish hued blouse and beige long skirt typical of any woman on the island who wore such garments, on Missy Red, looked more powerfully stitched. The larger than life witch-woman approached them by the bench, her gait more a hover and ‘gliding’ than actual footsteps. Was then Delcina saw in more detail how beautiful her face way (not ugly at all as some children had inferred) ’cept for one signature flaw, that of a raised scar by the neck. Her brown skin glowed, the blue eyes radiant in the sunshine and her mouth spoke words before any were heard, so Delcina imagined. Her scent was of fresh lemon and flower, as if she had napped in a garden. Taller than her Aunty, Missy Red stood a few feet from them and extending one hand said, “I am, Ms. Loretta Jones.” “Me da girl’s Aunty, Missy Red. This m’ niece, ’Cina Brown. Say hello,” Aunty told her and as she spoke Delcina heard in her Aunty’s voice a pleasant respect she had never heard before when she spoke to other women…’
I’ve written a compelling epic drama about strong ‘black’ females, Jamaican history and how female power is the only healing force in the universe. With the recent success of ‘Amazing Grace’ about a Brit man ending slavery and how I incorporate ‘Maroon’ history (escaped slaves who rebelled against the British in the 1800’s led by a woman called ‘Nanny of the Maroons’) gives a topical piece of Black history nobody is aware of and may be another selling point. It is the spirit essence of this warrior ‘Nanny’ that imbues Delcina’s seed with magic.
I envision this fiction becoming part of a Hallmark or Lifetime presentation on one single night’s viewing. Or, a three-part mini-series (for Fox cable or HBO) as the story can be adapted to a teleplay by any competent writer you may employ. If you feel you need readership response before an audience is considered then I’d suggest helping me publish a version of the story in Oprah’s magazine as a whole or ‘serial,’ so that you may gauge public interest. I believe in the marrow of my Soul that Delcina along with old man Longwood and Missy Red, will become classic characters in the arena of endearing holiday fables. I hope you would see actors such as Hallie Berry, Viola Davis, Beonce or Kerry Washington playing Delcina opposite a male lead like Robert Duvall as Jacob Longwood. And there are many other gifted Afro-American actresses and caucasian actors who can do ‘Delcina’ and Jacob justice on screen.
DELCINA’S TREE works on many emotional levels using character’s pasts, memories and present day plot to propel the story forward to its incredible climax. ‘Sugar Hollows’, a section of land where a mystical cabin rests and the place Delcina calls out to Mother Tree, becomes for old man Longwood, the place of his Transcendence. Or, something else? For YOU, the question to be answered fully: who is Delcina, really?
An immortal ‘witch’ who can conjure Transcendence?
I assume competent people may read the full tale and understand the proper fit it is to be transformed into a quality product for print, film or television. Delcina’s story is worth the time, money and effort to reach a wider audience than I’ve been able to give her these last few years.
Till I hear from you at, I wish you the best for 2016 and beyond. Remember:
Delcina’s song to the trees… ‘Me wish me pray to see a sight this day come n’ hear me plea, Show we your gran’dist horizons tree, great mother of you in me. Us seek your branch n’ heart of ya trunk, come show we your mighty height, Me wish me pray a gift to come, ta’ see t’day ya sight! The ground below awaits your roots, bless us wit ya glorious face, Give me strength to find da truth n’ see you in dis place.’
Be well and thank you for all serious consideration regarding this creative inquiry.