Road to Rebellion, my latest novel, is a historical saga set in Jamaica during the 18th Century. One of the main characters is Charles Morley, a sugar planter who finds himself having to mediate the confrontations between his slave lover and his wife. But Charles is also a moderator in disputes between other slaves and their owners, for the Maroons who live in the mountains, and amongst the planters who struggle to find the right balance between a harsh or humane form of slavery.
When I wrote the first draft, I had only carried out a small amount of research on the legislative government of Jamaica in the 1700s. I realised I would have to do more when Charles became a councillor partway through the story.
My initial decision to make Charles a councillor was based on the fact that an important historical meeting of councillors takes place in Falmouth later in the story, to vote on whether to make an agreement with the Maroon community living in the mountains. I wanted Dianna, Charles’s wife, to attend the meeting as a representative for him during his illness—partly to demonstrate the way women were excluded from politics at the time.
An earlier scene shows Charles fighting against a rival to be elected as a councillor. But when I did my secondary research on this area, it became apparent that the 12 councillors of the legislature, whose roles were similar to that of peers in the House of Lords in Great Britain, were not elected. The governor of the island in fact recommended them to the King, and the privy-council then selected them.
I wanted to retain both scenes, but to do so in a way which maintained as much historical integrity as possible. If I had a councillor elected, the historians would jump to correct me pretty quickly. So, I had to change Charles’s role to one of the 43 assemblymen of the legislature—who acted like Members of Parliament in Great Britain—so that he could be elected after a rousing campaign against his rival. (Incidentally, only men with a minimum annual income of £300 or net assets of at least £3,000 were allowed to run, and only free-holding men with a minimum annual income of £10 were allowed to vote.)
But in the historical accounts, only councillors attended the meeting that Charles’s wife Dianna attends on his behalf. So what to do? I decided that to have her attend on behalf of her elected assemblyman husband was a lesser historical sin than to have a selected councillor voted in. I hope this does not jar too much with the historians.
Road to Rebellion is now available as both an eBook and in paperback on Amazon. A giveaway of the eBook is being run at LibraryThing (click on the link, select sort by end date, then scroll to giveaways ending on 23 Sep 2014 to find it). There is also a giveaway of the paperback being run on Goodreads, and you can click on the link below to enter.
Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to the 7 winners of the Road to Rebellion giveaway who reside in Latvia, Romania, Holland, Estonia, Indonesia, and Ireland. Your books have been ordered and should reach you soon. Happy Reading.