Research – I am always at it. As a writer of historical adventure stories, I am always gathering information. In my quest for the wonderful tidbits required to make a historical novel come alive, I often bump into a tasty morsel altogether unrelated to what I am seeking, but compelling nonetheless. So what do I do when this happens? I jot it down. I have a mountain of scribbled in noteboooks. Evidently, sometime during in the course of research for my debut novel, Midwife of the Blue Ridge (an adventure set in 1763), amid notes regarding 18th century ocean travel and life aboard a sailing ship, I jotted down this completely unrelated fact:
Really? New York City had been occupied by the British Army for seven years? Boston and Philadelphia are the large cities that spring to mind when you think about the American Revolution. New York – not so much. I was surprised the city had been occupied by enemy forces for seven years. Not only did I jot the fact down – I double bubbled it!
Once I completed the manuscript Midwife of the Blue Ridge, I set out to get it published. This difficult process begins with finding a literary agent willing to take on an uncredentialed and unpublished author. One does this by sending out query letters and sample pages, and suffering many, many rejections and much disappointment. At one fairly low point, I was organizing my research materials and seriously thinking about giving up on ever being published, I ran across that bubbled note again.Really? New York City had been occupied by the British Army for seven years…
We Americans begin learning about the birth of our nation from the moment we gaze in wonder at a firework display at our first Fourth of July celebration. Between kindergarten and high school, a multitude of significant events, the battles and the stories of our forefathers – all of this history becomes etched on, and sometimes lost, in the wrinkles of our brains.
I reread the note and turned to the internet to recover what I had lost, and began to unearthed things I didn’t ever know. I became swept up in the American Revolution – swept up in the confusion and fervor of that extraordinary time in our history. A story began to coalesce in my mind – and as I researched. I imagined a tale about a woman – not the daughter, or wife or mistress or maid of any historically famous man – just an ordinary woman who gets swept up by remarkable events taking place around her. It became apparent once I began the deep research that the American Revolution story I envisioned would require more than one book.
I’d of never figured that a single scribbled note written years before would wind up a three novel idea. Needless to say, I keep all my notebooks.