Friday, August 31, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I am happy to report that I got through my malaise and started writing again. "A Convenient Misfortune" started calling out to me and so I gave in. For those of you keeping score, it is my American Revolution novel set in Charleston, South Carolina.

I was very lucky to attend college in Charleston and those formative years were great for writing. I often would spend Sunday afternoons riding past two hundred year old houses, getting inspired, and writing in my head.

Charleston is a lovely city--you must visit if you ever have the chance. I highly recommend going in the off season though; it can be a zoo during the warmer months. And the weather is not that great--it's a giant walk-in sauna. It's a very European city; I'd say that it is one of the most European in the US (next to New Orleans). Settled in late 1600s, Charles Town was named for King Charles II. As a royal colony, it had "Lords Proprietors" who managed it. Vast plantations were established outside of the original walled city and many grew rich as a result. Settlers came from the West Indies to further build their fortunes, while French Hugenots fled France and found religious refuge in the colony.

With such illustrious connections to Britain, you can imagine the divide that occurred during the American Revolution. Many of Charles Town's most prominent citizens sided with their mother country, but a good portion also became Patriots. Arthur Middleton, the vastly wealthy owner of Middleton Place plantation signed the Declaration of Independence, while prominent attorney John Rutledge and his brother Edward (who signed the Declaration as well) attended the Continental Congresses.

For all intents and purposes, the war wasn't visited upon the residents of Charles Town until 1780 when the British invaded and occupied the city. General Henry Clinton took up residence at Drayton Hall and quickly set to work rounding up those Patriots who were considered difficult. Arthur Middleton and Edward Rutledge were exiled to a prison ship in St. Augustine, Florida, while Issac Hayne, leader of a rebel brigade, was executed for violating the terms of his earlier parole.

Such a rich history is a boon to any novel and I'm lucky to be intimately acquainted with it. "A Convenient Misfortune" opens in April 1775. The heroine, Arabella Westbury, arrives in Charles Town alone. Her father was appointed as the assistant minister to St. Michael's Church, but unfortunately he dies on the voyage. Now an orphan, Arabella must make her way in the world on her own. She finds it difficult to live in a society with divided loyalties, but she eventually secures a position as a governess to Marianne Bennett, the youngest sister of one of Charles Town's most eligible bachelors. Murder and mayhem follow. Just kidding. High drama and hijinks ensue. Yes, that's better.

"A Covenient Misfortune" is long overdue to be finished. I started working on it during my senior year in high school and then throughout my college years. I've taken turns at revising and re-writing it in between working on "Rebel Heart" but this is the first time that I have focused entirely on it. I've actually started re-writing it completely. It has a good, finished (mostly) story line, but my writing style has changed over the years. So I just decided to start from the top and see where it takes me.

I'm looking forward to sharing more with you as the time passes. There is more information about this novel under the "Works in Progress" tab.

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