Charlie Most’s days are occupied with steel beams and joists and construction projects worth tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. His leisure time is filled with pirates and shipwrecks, an obsessive modern-day architect and a long-dead female adventurer with whom he connects.
Most, who has one foot in his native Maryland and the other on the Outer Banks, channeled his spiritual underpinnings and a series of real-life occurrences into a novel that deals with love, loss, paranormal connections and the area’s rich history. “Lost Treasures of the Heart,” a collaborative effort with longtime author Charlene Keel, is a love story spanning hundreds of years.
“The whole mystique of the area provides the perfect environment for the story to take place,” Most says. “There’s no area like the Outer Banks.”
“Lost Treasures,” the first in a planned “Treasure of the Tides Trilogy,” was published in late 2016 and has sold nearly 1,000 copies, mostly through word-of-mouth and online recommendations.
It has received almost exclusively five-star ratings from readers on Amazon. The Paranormal Romance Guild awarded it best novel in a series for 2017 and second place for best novel. The book has been cited by Good Reads, Goddess Fish Promotions, Affairedecoeur and Romance Junkies.
“So many things happened that could never let me put this down,” Most says. “I work during the days and then I write the pirate book. I didn’t have a choice in this matter. It has haunted me everywhere. I saw this woman who, in my own mind, was trying to reach out to me and give me a message. And we assume the message is that she wanted to help me put her soul to rest.”
Most, 65, is an unlikely novelist. He is an ironworker by trade and built a multi-million-dollar steel construction and fabrication company, Baltimore Steel Erectors LLC.
Before he began crafting the novel, he joked that he hadn’t written anything more extensive than high school papers.
He has been captivated by the ocean and seashore living since he spent a summer in Ocean City, Maryland, as a teenager. He first visited the Outer Banks in 1997 on a fishing trip and was hooked.
He has had several homes and properties here through the years, and currently owns an oceanfront house in Kill Devil Hills.
The seeds of the book were planted in October 2005, when he and several friends were staying in a house in Corolla during a fishing trip. Clouds passing in front of a bright moon made for an eerie setting over the ocean, and Most says that he and his buddies saw what appeared to be the silhouette of an old sailing vessel heading south for a few seconds before it disappeared.
“We were having a few beers, but we all know what we saw,” he says.
Most was interested in the remains of a shipwreck that washed ashore at Corolla in 2008, years later identified as likely a British naval vessel that sank in 1652. He spoke to Corolla Fire and Rescue assistant chief Jeff Foster about the salvage effort. From there came conversations with local shipwreck enthusiast Ray Midgett, East Carolina maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers, and Clara Scarborough at the Hatteras Maritime Museum.
During an April 2011 nor’easter, Most felt compelled to walk the beach one night as five- and six-foot waves crashed along the beach.
He believed he caught a glimpse of a ship offshore and excitedly told people at the house when he returned. The next morning, wreckage of a long-sunken ship had washed up on the beach in front of his house.
Eventually, Most’s imagination and thoughts about the spirit world blended with his fascination for the area and became a novel. In it, architect Jonathan West is on a fishing trip to the Outer Banks, deciding what to do about his crumbling marriage, when he sees a ghost ship helmed by a beautiful woman. He becomes obsessed with her and buys a beachfront home, where he finds an old sea chest has washed up. The chest belonged to the woman he saw, Kate Russell, the captain of a pirate ship that sank in 1721, and contained her journal.
West encounters Russell in his dreams and believes she is reaching out to him, and he is determined to find a way to help and bring her spirit to rest. The action toggles between present day and the 18th century.
Most believes that there are countless stories to be told in an area with hundreds of shipwrecks off the coast over the course of centuries.
“It’s something that sucks you in and doesn’t let go until you’re done,” he says. “I’m not saying it’s because of me. It’s more like I have a connection to it, to tell the story and let people know that there’s so much that is part of the Outer Banks. It’s ever present.”