One of the questions I often hear from readers is, “Do you find it difficult to write novels that are set in such a brutal period of American history?”
Before answering, let me confide to you that I am a “happily ever after” kind of gal at heart. So the fact that I’ve written two novels against the backdrop of slavery in the 1800s may seem like a highly unusual choice. After all, what good can be gained by stirring old ghosts? For this reason, there is not a lot of adult fiction written about this period. I suspect this is because it is not a time we reminisce over. Instead we hide it from sight like an ugly scar. Readers and writers alike often avoid revisiting these pre-Civil War years because of the horror and shame it stirs in our moral conscience.
In keeping the door closed on this period, we miss the chance to celebrate and marvel at the incredible acts of courage and daring challenges that were the genesis of social change in our country. The secret network known as the Underground Railroad is the perfect example of the best of America in the worst of America, and it serves as a vehicle of transformation for my main character, Jacy Lane.
In my novel, SHADOW OF A QUARTER MOON, an unimaginable secret changes the course of Jacy’s life; not once, but twice. First, when it is hidden from her, and then when it is revealed. As the daughter of a plantation owner, Jacy has been raised in privilege until she discovers that she is the offspring of a dalliance between her father and a slave. Amid the shock and complexities of her mixed heritage, Jacy is simply a woman longing for love, happiness, and a sense of wholeness; however the 1800s are not a simple time and Jacy begins a treacherous journey of denial and self-discovery that is fraught with danger and life-altering choices. She soon discovers that what she chases is as elusive as the secret network she hopes can save them.
As an author, I am inspired by the strength and courage of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances; how friends, family, and inner conviction can change the course of our lives. So when I am asked if it is difficult to write a novel in this time period, I say that it is both heart-wrenching and awe-inspiring. Endless stories of inspiration, danger, upheaval, and bold beginnings are waiting to be unearthed from the ashes. We can tiptoe past it, hoping not to stir those old ghosts, or we can choose to give voice to generations deserving of acknowledgment, tribute, and literary life as with any other period in our history. We are entrusted to do so, respectfully and responsibly. My novels, SHADOW OF A QUARTER MOON and PROMISE BRIDGE shine a light on both the villainous and heroic activity of that dark time. As an author, my hope is that the characters and story resonates with readers long after finishing the book, and they think, “Now that was a journey worth taking.”
About the Shadow of a Quarter Moon
From the author of Promise Bridge comes a powerful novel of the pre-Civil War era South and the Underground Railroad.
1839, North Carolina. As the daughter of a plantation owner, Jacy has been raised in privilege—until she discovers that she’s the offspring of a dalliance between her father and a slave. The revelation destroys Jacy’s sense of who she is and where she belongs in the world. Equally shocking, her biological mother and brother are still slaves on the property. As she gets to know them—and the handsome horse trainer, Rafe—she begins to see life in the South with fresh eyes. And soon Jacy will have to make a treacherous journey that she hopes will end in freedom for them all...
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Shining Light on Dark Times a Guest Post by Author Eileen Schwab
Author Guest Posts|