Tuesday, April 11, 2017

COMBINING FACT WITH FICTION

They say to write what you know…and love.  As a longtime resident of Georgia, I became fascinated with its history when I taught the subject to seventh-graders while living in Savannah. Through preparing these lessons, I learned a lot about the history of this lovely state and developed a great appreciation for it.

My life-long passion for history, along with my deeply held social justice and faith-based views, help fuel my zest for writing. There is nothing quite like fleshing out a story, and I enjoy doing so for middle-grade to adult audiences alike. I delve into the personalities of my historical fiction characters as they examine their motivations, hopes, and fears under a variety of circumstances.

My process draws on a strong understands of the historical record, gathered through my own focused research and consultation with historians and historical organizations. To this I add informed fictionalized elements that help me build a compelling narrative.

Trailblazer Trilogy chronicles the personal and civic struggles and successes of Noble Wimberly Jones, colonial Georgia’s premiere doctor and statesman for American independence. The prose also gives the reader a front row seat inside Georgia’s growth from infancy to statehood.

As an example, some of the many factual elements that anchor the story include:

• Georgia was founded to aid the unfortunate, to advance British merchandise, and to secure Britain’s defense “debatable lands.

• Concerns for those in prison for their debts had much to do with advertising for the new colony.  However, quickly debtors were expanded to include unfortunate Englishmen or non-English Protestants.  Many poor people were among the colony’s first 114 settlers.

• Georgia was supported by a group of 21 men called the Trustees. James Oglethorpe was one of the Trustees.  The Trustees knew little about setting up a structure of government and were lacking when it came to selecting colonist with farming and survival skills.  The Trustees insisted on three restrictions: no rum, no Jewish or Catholic people, and no slaves.

• The story, of course, is based on the true historical figures of James Oglethorpe, Noble Jones and his family, as well as others:  John Milledge, Chief Tomochich and his sonToonahowie, Mary Musgrove, Queen of the Creeks and Doctor NunisJohn Milledge accompanied his family to begin the new colony. Noble Jones came with his wife Sarah and two children Noble W. (10) and Mary (3)

• Twelve-year-old John had to return to England to secure his father’s land title.  While he was in London his mother and a younger brother also died.

• Doctor Nunis, a renowned doctor of infectious diseases and Jewish, arrives in the new colony and James Oglethorpe breaks the ban on excluding Jewish people. Prior to the coming of Doctor Nunis over one-third of the colonist had died.  Soon after a raging epidemic was manageable.

Medical knowledge was in its infancy stage.

I also find that factual recounting of historical events within the context of the narrative provides authenticity and compelling accuracy. For example, the Anne was delayed from leaving Gravesend, England by about two months because of inclement weather.  And, my recounting of living and eating features on the Anne are backed up by historical data.

After having established the historical outline, when writing, to help the narrative shape of the story, I add fictional elements that are informed by my research (and respect the history) and my specific approach to storytelling.

For example, my understanding of the historical person of Noble Wimberly Jones allows me to build him as a character in the story by imagining how he may have related to his sister in specific situations on the Anne, my sense of his willingness to learn about herbal cures from the Native Americans, and how the friendships he likely formed as a child would inform his participation in the colony (and state) as an adult.

All of this leads to a finish book that I hope you will find compelling and informative.  You can find out more about my books at my website.

~Lynelle

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