Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Novel Idea - Christine Blevins


I do an awful lot of it. As a writer of historical adventure stories, I keep lots and lots of notes. I have a box of spiral notebooks filled with handwritten notes. In my constant quest for all the wonderful tidbits required to make a historical novel come alive, I sometimes bump into a tasty morsel that is altogether unrelated to the project I am working on at the time – but compelling nonetheless. So what do I do? I jot it down.

My first novel, Midwife of the Blue Ridge, is an adventure tale set in 1763 about midwife Maggie Duncan, (the main character) making her way as an indentured servant from the Scottish Highlands to colonial Virginia. Evidently, sometime during in the course of researching 18th century ocean travel and life aboard a sailing vessel, I jotted down this interesting but unrelated fact in the top margin of my notes:

New York City had been occupied by the British Army for seven years?


The War of Independence is a massive event in our country’s history, and we Americans begin learning about the birth of our nation from the moment we attend our first Fourth of July celebration. Between the time we enter kindergarten and graduate high school, significant facts and events like the Boston Tea Party, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Valley Forge, Common Sense, Saratoga – all become etched on, and sometimes lost in the wrinkles of our brains.

Some part of me knew that New York City figured in the war somehow – but that the city was occupied for seven years was a revelation – I was intrigued. Not only did I jot the fact down – I double-bubbled it! This note is the embryo of my new novel, The Tory Widow.

The Tory widow’s adventure begins on the steps of St. Paul’s Chapel just after Anne Merrick’s marriage ceremony to a much older man. At that same moment, news of the Stamp Act’s repeal sweeps through the city and prompts a triumphant street celebration where Anne becomes the recipient of a wild, celebratory kiss from a handsome young stranger.

Ten years later, Anne is a widow. The “shot heard round the world” has been fired. Blood is shed at Lexington and Concord, thousands are dead and wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the port city of New York is thrown in turmoil. Against this backdrop of civil strife and revolution, Widow Merrick struggles to maintain her deceased husband’s printing business, and survive in a perilous world where a woman’s lot is usually governed by the men her life.

British warships begin to menace the harbor, and loyalties are questioned. The fanatic Sons of Liberty scour the city, relentlessly pursuing and punishing supporters of the Crown. Loyalists are terrorized – tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail. As the widow of a known Tory, Anne Merrick draws the unwanted attention of these fanatic Liberty Boys – one of whom she recognizes as the same man who’d kissed her on the steps of St. Paul’s years before.

General Washington’s Continental Army arrives to stem a certain British invasion and New York transitions in to an armed camp. In spite of Anne’s apparent Tory leanings, Liberty Boy Jack Hampton finds he is drawn to the determined widow, and Anne finds it hard to resist the ardent patriot. Jack leads Anne to rediscover her true ideals. Together, they weather the confusion and fervor of an extraordinary time.

The tenuous connection between Anne and Jack is severed when Redcoats invade and the British occupy the city. To survive, Anne Merrick must draw upon her Tory reputation to infiltrate British military society and work clandestinely for the patriot cause. With treachery, cunning, stealth and courage her only weapons, Anne fights for her country, and the man she loves.

Up the Rebels!!

Huzzah! Enter to win a signed copy of The Tory Widow, plus an 18th century survival kit (lavender water and a hankie) by leaving a comment with your favorite fact about the American Revolution. Remember, you must type in your email address to be entered.


Maureen said...

Hi Christine,
I never knew that about New York. When I was young I always assumed that everyone in the colonies wanted independence but read years later that about one third of the people opposed the war. mce1011[at]aol[dot]com

Caroline said...

One of the facts I'm aware of is that the colonists were unhappy with the amount of taxes that they had to pay to the crown (i.e. the king who sat on his throne in England) Point of fact - the Boston Tea Party! (Taxes! The bane of everyone's life - nothing changes does it!) Take care. Caroline x

Caroline said...

Sorry Christine - email is storercaroline45[at]yahoo[dot]com

housemouse88 said...

Hello Christine,

The only fact I could remember was expressed by Caroline. Loved the post and your books sound interesting. house_mouse88 at yahoo dot com

Debs Desk said...

When I was in school I loved learning about the Constitution of the United States (1787), including the United States Bill of Rights (1789). Please include me in your giveaway.

Becky said...

My favorite fact about the American Revolution is the take that the women had in it. The women had contribute to the boycott of British goods which included the household items such as tea and cloth. The women had to return to return to spinning and weaving which were skills that had fallen into disuse.

Virginia said...

Hi Christine, very interesting post. I really enjoyed it. A few things I looked up was that in 1776 Americans had the highest standard of living and paid the lowest taxes of the Western World and that there were two Boston Tea Parties. You don't think much about these thing until someone mentions them and then you start looking things up. Also we forget what we learn in school.


robynl said...

treachery, cunning, stealth and courage her only weapons, ... seems to me she is quite loaded with weapons, so to speak. These will get her a long way. She sounds like a determined strong woman.

Ash said...

Hello Christine!

I saw your book, The Tory Window, at another blog awhile back, and I've wanted it ever since!

I liked the Boston Tea Party and all the boycotts. They stood up for what they believed was right, and that's admirable to me.

jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

Estella said...

The only fact I know about the war was expressed by Caroline.

RachieG said...

:) LOVe the Revolutionary War Period! Such strength and courage during this period.

One of the facts I've recently learned and was surprised about is that John Adams defended the British soldiers when they fired at the mob in Boston.Surpsied the heck out of me....and then to turn around and be such a great leader in our country shows what a heck of a guy he truly was. :D

Fun post today!

Pat Cochran said...

For me, it is a toss-up between the
Boston Tea Party and the hiring of
German mercenaries by the British.
The Tea Party because I just
attended one of last week's versions of the Tea Party. The mercenaries because one of my great-great-grandfathers on my mother's side of the family was a Hessian soldier sent to Mexico during one of the conflicts there.

Pat Cochran

Kytaira said...

I downloaded the podcasts of *Stuff you missed in history class* for a recent long drive. Each podcast is about something different and compiled by How Stuff Works.

Here's what I remember from the podcast on Paul Revere's midnight ride. Paul Revere was one of three riders. Samuel Prescott and William Dawes were the other two. Revere and Dawes started the ride. They were given information that Samual Adams and John Hancock were going to be arrested. The info likely came from Joseph Warren who got it from a Redcoat generals wife. Revere and Dawes were able to get far enough to warn Adams and Hancock. From there they were to warn the weapons storage in Concord. They met up with Prescott a local. The three met up with Redcoat troops. Prescott was able to escape. Revere was well known to the Redcoats and held. He said the colonial troops were on their way, something not true. However there were militiamen testing their rifles and that was enought to worry the redcoats into releasing Revere. Only Prescott actually finished the ride all the way to Concord.

lynda98662 at yahoo dot com

Christine Blevins said...

It is great to see so many people interested in American history and also in winning a copy of THE TORY WIDOW. I will be randomly selecting a winner from the list of entrants who comment by 12 noon tomorrow, and I will then announce the winner!

Good Luck!!

Christine Blevins
author of THE TORY WIDOW

Laurie said...

I'm always amazed that the British wore red uniforms!
Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called "Common Sense" which summarized the political ideas in 1776. It became very popular!

Christine Blevins said...

And the winner is....

(I will be sending you an email, Becky)

Thanks to all of you for joining in the fun, and also to Leena for hosting my guest post and contest.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Christine Blevins