In Vermont author Beth Kanell's THE DARKNESS UNDER THE WATER, teen Molly Ballou confronts the risks of her Abenaki heritage. In THE SECRET ROOM, Shawna and Thea unearth the Underground Railroad, through evidence "today." In COLD MIDNIGHT, follow teens Claire Benedict and Ben Riley to the roofs of downtown St. Johnsbury, Vermont, at night - and a murder. Order books at www.BethKanell.com or locally.
In the writing room right now ...
In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?
Friday, September 14, 2012
History Behind the Story: From Vicki Delany, Author of MORE THAN SORROW (2012)
It’s also written differently depending on
what side you happen to be on.
My newest book, More than Sorrow, is set
in Prince Edward County, Ontario, where I live.I moved here four years ago and one of the first things I noticed was
the sign as you approach the main town, Picton (pop 4,000) proclaiming “A Proud
Loyalist Town”.Highway 33, which runs
through the County along the north shore of Lake Ontario to Kingston, is named
The Loyalist Highway, and signs depict a couple in period dress.What, thought I, is all this about?Then I began seeing flags – Union Jacks? Not
quite. One of the stripes was missing.
In Canada we have a reputation of ignoring
our history.I can’t really be counted
among those, as I’ve always had a keen interest in history.I majored in Modern History at University.
(Although my major was Modern European History.)I knew something, vaguely, about the
Loyalists who settled Ontario, but obviously not enough.
So I set about learning.
As Americans you might have been brought up
to think that all but a few scoundrels and traitors were keen on
independence.Not so fast. Apparently
something like 30% of the residents of the colony thought it a bad idea. Only a
few years prior to 1776 almost no one in the colony, including those who became
the leading “patriots”, was arguing for independence, but for a slightly fairer
tax system.It can be argued, and often
has, that the revolution could easily have been prevented if the British had
merely bent a little rather than remaining stubbornly intransigent.See TheMarch
of Folly by Barbara Tuchman.(Highly recommended - one of the books that has had the most influence
on my political thought.)
Many Loyalists simply thought there was no
reason to go to war over a tax dispute.Many agreed with aims of eventually achieving some degree of
independence, but thought that Treason was not a good way to begin a
county.Many were appalled at the
actions of the mob – outright ‘confiscation of property’ aka theft, beating and
killing supposed opponents – and thought no good could come of it. (In the
famous quote attributed to Mather Byles, Boston Clergyman, “which is better – to be ruled by one tyrant
three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away?”)
Many simply didn’t want to take sides, and found themselves being forced to
when their homes were torched and their property taken.
They were refugees in every sense of the
word. The British army and government
remained loyal to those who’d been loyal to them, and provided transportation
away from the States for anyone who wanted to leave.Many went back to England or Scotland, many
to parts of North America that were not yet American, such as Florida, and many
to the West Indies. When I was in Turks and Caicos in the winter, we visited
the remains of a loyalist plantation.Slaves who had supported the British side were given their freedom and a
spot on a ship out. Many of them settled in Nova Scotia, where their descendants
live today, and some went back to Africa.(If you are interested in the Black Loyalist story, try the superb Book
Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.That’s the book’s Canadian name; it has something different in the U.S. [Someone Knows My Name -- BK] The Book of Negroes was the list the British
kept in New York of blacks wanting to flee.)
People you might think had no love for the
British remained loyal.I was surprised
to learn what firm Loyalists many Scots were.One would assume that having fought so hard against the English in 1745
they would be on the anti-British side. Nope.A lot of Scots who’d
come to America after the Battle of Culloden were Loyalists. One of Scotland’s greatest
heroines, Flora McDonald, savior of Bonnie Prince Charlie after Culloden,
moved to America, and became a staunch Loyalist. After the American Revolution she returned via Canada to Skye, where she remained until she
died. According to a source I read, the Jacobites did not consider
themselves to be ‘rebels’ in any way. They supported what they considered to be
the true King of Scotland. Thus were not inclined to support rebellion in
A great many of these refugees came to
Canada, over a thousand to what is now Prince Edward County.
What I hadn’t fully realized is that
Ontario was almost totally unsettled at that time.Canada consisted of French Quebec and some
settlements in Nova Scotia.A small
township had been established in the Niagara area. And that was it.So when the new settlers came to this area
there was nothing but wilderness.No
roads, no towns. Nothing but dark, impenetrable forest.
Molly Brant led Mohawk Loyalists
Not even Native Canadians.There’s a big Mohawk Reserve near the County
called Tyendenaga.It was settled by
Loyalists also. The Indians fought on the side of the British in the Revolution
(as they did in the War of 1812) and when their side lost, they lost their land
and became refugees.
Many of these refugees were not farmers:
they might be townspeople, shopkeepers, newspapermen, tradesmen, maybe
soldiers. As is the case with refugees down through time, most of them lost
everything except the clothes they stood in when they fled their homes.The British government gave them
transportation, and some supplies with which to begin.Imagine facing the true North American
Wilderness, with a handful of seeds, a hand-made axe, maybe an ox to share with
your neighbours, and no farming experience.The first order of business would have been to chop down a patch of
ancient forest, to clear land and get wood to start building. They lived in
tents or rough shacks the first years.In Ontario – in winter!
When I decided I wanted to write another
stand-alone suspense novel,I knew I
wanted it to be a modern gothic, a book with strands of the past and hidden
secrets affecting people today.I am
interested in how war affects lives, particularly the non-combatants, and quickly
came up with the idea of a war correspondent injured in Afghanistan and a young
female Afghan refugee.Refugee? Where
had I heard that before?
Thus, in telling the story of Maggie
Macgregor, a Loyalist refugee, I hoped to draw parallels between the refugee
experience of Canada’s original settlers with those arriving today.And hopefully I have also had something to
say about universal truths, particularly of women caught up in a fight that is
not their own.