I’ve begun a new series. Well, a trilogy since I think series should be short.
It started in the usual way. A germ of an idea had been sitting in the back of my mind for awhile, dating back to when I was a child. My great-grandmother, who was a source of fascination and terror (in equal parts) to me, told me about her father who had fought in the Civil War. My great-grandmother lived to be nearly a hundred and I was about eight at the time. Still, the idea that I had talked to someone who knew someone who had fought in the Civil War was absolutely amazing to me. (He had served before she was born, but told her stories which she related to me.)
My great-grandmother was born and reared in Kentucky where the attitude about the war was substantially different from someone raised in New York, for example. I tend to think that it was more personal, but that might just be me internalizing the wonder and the terror of that early conversation with Mary Sue. My great-grandmother told me things she probably shouldn’t have mentioned to an eight year old, but who’s going to criticize a woman in her nineties? I can still recall her comments about the war and how it affected my great-great-grandfather, how things were never the same in the south after that, and how people lived through the war.
When I was in my twenties I had a dream about Mary Sue (about fifteen years after her death). When I woke, I wrote it down, as close as I could remember it. I found parts of it the other day:
I loved most sitting in the swing that Papa put up in the old elm, with the lightning bugs sprinkling fairy light all over the meadow, and the heavy sweet perfume of the night blooming jasmine. The air was so thick you could taste it, making little droplets over your mouth like a mustache. You felt like your body wanted to escape your skin you were so hot. But, then, a breeze would come up and make you cold all over, and you smiled with the feeling. My nightgown would be cold and sweaty all at once. I loved that time in the summer. At least until I got too old to be swinging in my nightgown.
Growing up is not as fun as people say. The things you give up are better than what you get. Leastwhys I’ve always thought so.
When the opportunity came to begin a new series, I knew what it had to be. I was going to take what my great-grandmother told me, add my own research about my Kentucky relatives, and write a series featuring the Civil War. But it had to have a different feel, be something I’ve never read.
More on that different twist later.