I loved writing Hartford. I’ve long been fascinated by stories that explore duality, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. So I created twins, Daniel and Taregan, one who was attracted to the English life, one who preferred the native life.
In writing Rehoboth, I explored the true story of King Philip, an amazing Indian leader who knew his tribe was doomed against the English. I hope my admiration for the man comes through . . . and I wondered how I would react if I faced the obstacles he did.
In writing Charles Towne, I skipped forward a few years. I wanted to write about slavery, both literal and spiritual. So I created a character, Trace Bettencourt, and made him a slave to guilt. His job? He’s a pirate who goes around “liberating” slave ships bound for the colonies.
I remember that I went to Charleston by myself, stayed in an old bed and breakfast, and wandered around the historical district to get a feel for the place. Not much there from the early historical period, but I picked up some wonderful books on Charleston that I would probably never have run across otherwise.
I think it was with Charles Towne that I realized that not all my readers are going to “get it.” I remember that my editor sent the manuscript out to some test readers. One of them remarked, “This book is about slavery. Slavery doesn’t exist anymore. So what’s the point?”
Sigh. When you write a layered story, some readers aren’t going to peer past the top layer. Fact of Life #269.
Tomorrow: the editing