I love being an author, but I freely admit that one of the scariest things for me is sitting down to create and discovering you have no idea what you’re about to write about.
When I wrote my first book, Under the Same Sky, I had already plunged deep into the Scottish Highlands in 1745 or so, thanks to my idol, Diana Gabaldon. So I knew where I wanted to be. I had a setting, I had a hero in mind, and my main character, Maggie, soon introduced herself. I found out quickly what she and her story were all about. She made it easy.
When Penguin said they wanted to publish it, they said they also wanted a “companion novel” (as opposed to a sequel). My agent called with the news, and I agreed with confidence. Of course I could write another one. Then I hung up and commenced frantically pacing. What the heck was I going to write about? I’d only ever written one book and had never really planned to write another. Now I was writing on demand?
I should have known not to panic. Maggie had shown me the way for the first book. All I had to do this time was wait for one of the characters in Sound of the Heart to step forward and declare themselves the new storyteller. It happened at about 4 a.m. two days later, while I was sound asleep. Along came Dougal MacDonnell, who had somehow managed to survive Culloden and its aftermath and wanted to tell me his story. He woke me up and insisted I get it all down. “Come on, lass! Ye can go wi’out coffee the once, can ye no’?” he demanded. Fortunately, my awesome (and long-suffering) husband figured out what was going on and poured me a cup while I frantically typed.
That was supposed to be it for the series. After all, it was already more than I’d planned to write. Except my heart yearned for more. I have the seed of a story in my head for Janet MacLeod, and I still see pirate ships in her future. I wondered about Iain and Soquili and tried to imagine their stories.
I never even thought about Maggie’s sister, Adelaide. She was so quiet, so unassuming in the first book. But she, apparently, had a story as well, and what an adventure it was!
Not only that, but apparently Adelaide and I have something in common. She reminded me of a story in my own ancestry, and I worked it into her book.
As the story goes, in the early 1800s our ancestors, Greenberry and Elizabeth Taylor, came to northern Alabama from Washington County Tennessee (which was definitely Cherokee country), and they befriended the local Cherokees. At some point the daughter of the Cherokee chief fell quite ill, and the medicine men didn’t seem able to do anything for her. Patricia’s great-great-great-grandmother treated the girl with some “white man” medicine and managed to cure her. The chief was exceedingly grateful, and when the Cherokee scouts found out at the last minute about an impending attack by the Choctaws, the chief brought the Taylor family into their compound for protection. Supposedly the other white settlers in the area were massacred. Unfortunately, Patricia has never been able to confirm exactly where the Cherokees and Choctaws would have been in such close contact, nor that there were any actual massacres in this timeframe (about 1810 or 1811), but that’s the story. Anyway, the Taylors, obviously feeling beholden, asked the chief what they could do to thank him. His response? He wanted them to name their first daughter either Cherokee or Tennessee. Unfortunately, their first daughter had already been christened, but they promised to name the next one Cherokee. Priscilla Cherokee Taylor, born in April 1812, was Patricia’s great-great-grandmother.
The family name “Cherokee” or “Cherry” has since been passed down from mother to daughter for seven generations. Cool, right?
Of course, now you’re going to HAVE to read Somewhere to Dream to see how we worked that out in Adelaide’s story!
[Ed. Genevieve has a great giveaway in the works, so be sure to check it out! Here’s the link: a Rafflecopter giveaway. And here’s a look at her prize package. Good luck!]