In the past, I have developed and written my blog posts about my novels after the novel has been written. This has involved me going back over parts of the novel and my notes, trying to find things to write about. At times this approach has been quite frustrating and time consuming.
This time around, I have been identifying ideas for future blog posts as I write my current novel, a historical family saga with a dose of colonial romance and a slave rebellion, set in the West Indies, and it has been a much easier and more organic process.
There have been emotional moments where the details are best captured at the time they are occurring. Such as the several days when I walked down the street with a big smile on my face as though I was preparing to go on my holidays in a few days. But that was all because I was getting close to the day when I would write one of the flagship scenes that had been in my head for more than ten years. I was excited when I jotted down the idea for that scene years ago, and it felt even better as the moment approached, as I was keen to see how it turned out, and I have to say, I am very happy with it.
Then there was the real historical character, Alexander Lindsay, 6th Earl of Balcarres, Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica from 1794-1801, who features quite heavily in the last act of the novel. How was I to pitch this character when there were two widely contrasting views as to his intentions leading up to the second Maroon war on the island? Rather than concentrating on historians’ views about who he was, I have looked at first hand evidence such as letters, considered his previous actions, and any evidence that points to his motivations. I think all these things have given me a good indication of what drove him at the time, and I hope to reflect it in the novel.
The historians are not impartial. Oh boy, have I learned that. After reading parts of R C Dallas’s The History of the Maroons, first published in 1803, it really opened my eyes to that. His view on where he saw leadership qualities as residing, in British citizens and an aristocrat if possible, is revealing in why he would have thought Maroons did not have these qualities and would be quite happy to be dependent on their British masters. He wrote such comments, even though the Maroons had previously fought a war so that they could be free and rule over themselves. So in reading historical texts, it’s important to know something about the authors world view, as it’s then possible to better interpret some of the conclusions that they come to.
There will of course be the usual things to blog about for a historical novel:
- What was society like at a time when slavery was widely accepted as the norm, especially in the Caribbean?
- When I had a choice of historical events around which to build a scene to highlight a character’s actions, how and why did I select a particular event?
- I may even blog about the nature of Georgian homes, and dare I say it, the politics behind women’s clothes.
I will write the full blog posts when the manuscript is with my editor. Then they will be posted over a period, beginning around the time that the novel is published, in about June-July 2014. So I hope you will look out for those posts.
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