Milford native brings mysteries of Charles Island to life

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Marissa D'Angelo's new book explores the mysteries of Milford's Charles Island.

Marissa D'Angelo's new book explores the mysteries of Milford's Charles Island.

Contributed photo

MILFORD — Marissa D’Angelo’s love of writing began in her elementary school days. 

The Milford native began writing in journals in her youth, a habit that continues to this day. Her love of literary creation even led her, when in fourth grade, to create a screenplay, which she had her friends act out. 

D’Angelo has now turned that passion into a profession — one that has brought focus to Milford’s Charles Island, where she walks to this day to gather inspiration. 

“I just wanted to share my stories,” said D’Angelo, now a self-publisher on Amazon, having written five novellas, including four in the Tales of Charles Island series, with a fifth to be released later this month. 

“I remember reading my stories to my grandparents, and they would be so happy, there would be smiles on their faces,” she said. “I never thought about being famous. I just wanted to make my family and friends happy.” 

D’Angelo was born in Milford but grew up in Woodbridge. Her grandparents lived in Milford, so she said she was a regular visitor to the city. 

She now lives in Maryland with her dog, Meadow, and three cats — Buddy, Cleo and Milo. She returns to Milford at least once a month — often to hold book signings while visiting relatives and friends — and spends the entire summer in the city. 

D’Angelo’s day job is a second grade teacher in Maryland. But her author journey began in 2017 with her work, "Chasing Time." The next series of novellas centered on the mysteries — and curses — that have shrouded Charles Island for centuries. 

When she began her literary journey in her youth, she said she focused her work on more dystopian themes, but when her father, Joe, died, she began to trend more toward spiritual thoughts, with a focus on the supernatural and the presence of spirits in people’s lives. 

During her summers in Milford she regularly visits Charles Island. It was during one of her treks to the island — right after the death of her father — that she met a photographer, who by chance told her about some weird photos he had taken, ones he felt on spiritual images. 

“He spoke to me about spirits, and spirits watching over us. He did not know about me losing my father or what I was dealing with. I really took this as a sign,” she said 

From there her literary focus turned to the spiritual, and what better location, she thought, for her creation than Charles Island, a place often talked about in mystical terms. 

“There is so much history here,” she said about the island. 

Her books are titled "Presence," "The Cursed Inn" (based on Sarah Pritchard’s family who had a resort on the island in the 1800s), "The Cursed Vessel" (which weaves in tales of Captain Kidd and his recorded visit to the island) and "The Cursed Spirit." Each tale, she says, takes place in a different era.

“Each tale takes place in a different era as the people who venture out to this forbidden land find their worst nightmares to come true," her website states.

Her latest release, "The Cursed Spirit 2," comes out Oct. 21. She will hold a book signing Nov. 5 at Stratford Public Library. 

“For me this is bittersweet,” D’Angelo said about her writing. “It is bitter because I have lost so many people in my life. I really wanted to show all this to my dad. It’s been tough in that respect. But it is sweet because I am doing something I love and able to give back, too.” 

D’Angelo said 10 percent of her sales go to the Paugussett Tribe — which resided in what is present-day Milford, Derby and Shelton — and Charles Island Reforestation, LLC, which annually plants trees on the island. 

She credited her parentss, Joseph and Joann, and her grandparents, Fred D’Angelo, Rose D'Angelo, Maria Conte, and Michael and Jeanne Haborak, as her inspiration. 

“This gives me closure,” D’Angelo said about her writings. “I love to create characters with happy endings.” 

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com