Mission 31: The Dream-Hunters of Corsica

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The story behind THE TAIL GUNNER novel, based on the WWII experiences and collection of Keith B. Lile

Paper money, 1944.

Money from Corsica and Italy. The woman on the 5 francs note inspired the signadori scene in THE TAIL GUNNER. These women of Corsica have the rare ability to release people from the Evil Eye. c. 1944.               KBL Family Collection

March 11, 2014 — During my research on Corsica, I came across a rare book by Dorothy Carrington that described the dream hunters of Corsica. Called mazzeri, these dream hunters are people who wander the island in a transitive state under the light of the full moon. When they see the face of a human in the face of the animal they hunt, death is said to follow for the human within one year. Somewhat opposite of the mazzeri, are the signadori.  Known as the wise women and guardians of life, the signadori are imbued with the age-old skill of releasing people from the Evil Eye.

Inspired by the woman pictured on the Corsican five francs note in Dad’s collection, I wrote a memory tap scene in which Sylvie is able to see Bish’s memory of an encounter with a signadori. The old woman and her pet ewe find Bish passed out in a hay store along the road and offer him a safe place to hide from the wandering mazzeri. Possessed by the grief of his acts during Mission 17, Bish accepts the old woman’s help and is cured of the Evil Eye, barring one last step. He must deliver a tiny lamella (a prayer note written on soft metal) to the place of his destruction.

Orphic Prayer Sheet

This tiny Greek prayer sheet in the Getty collection represents ancient beliefs in a better life after death. It inspired a critical element of the  book’s plot. From the J. Paul Getty Museum collection.

 

Unable to complete this task in life, it becomes the focus of Bish’s last mission, except now he must secure Sylvie’s help in order to succeed in the world of the living. The problem is, however, that Bish’s lamella is lost.

Can Sylvie help Bish find another route of retribution or will they give up? Reserve your copy of THE TAIL GUNNER to find out.

—Stephanie Lile

 Next Post: Faces of the 321st

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