Today I'm really happy to welcome Elaine Cougler to the blog! She is the author of The Loyalist's Wife and The Loyalist's Luck which was just released in October (check out the review I posted yesterday!).
7 Super Interesting Things Writing The Loyalist’s Luck Taught Me
For the next half hour the house was all a-tumble with getting William ready to travel. Young Will and wee John woke with all the hubbub and even their sister slid down the steps as fast as she could to be part of the excitement. Catherine and Lucy held the youngest ones on their laps, out of the way of the men. Young Will ran back up to his room and reappeared as his father was opening the door, his hand behind his back.
“No, Will. Your daddy has to hurry,” said Catherine, holding the boy’s hand.
They gathered together in the kitchen and he stopped to smile at each one in turn. “I’ll be back soon.”
But he wasn’t. The hours passed, night came and with it the far-off sounds of cannon-fire. John sat on the porch with Lucy and Catherine, all of them fighting off the barrage of mosquitoes but reluctant to retreat inside. William was there in the midst of the fighting and in this small way they could each support him. Or so it seemed.
Soon the sky went darker and quiet and a few crickets braved the stillness with their annoying shriek. The adults moved inside to their beds although sleep did not come easily. John wondered what Catherine’s thoughts were this night, the second without William. Lucy lay awake beside him; he heard the catch in her breath every few moments. In the morning he would ride towards the fighting. At Chippawa he thought. For now, he must let his fears go and just sleep. –from The Loyalist’s Luck.
1. I wanted to use cicadas in the above passage and, in fact, I did. Then a beta reader suggested to me that cicadas only make their racket in the daytime. Who knew? I looked it up and found my reader was right. The word became crickets because I remembered how they annoyed me when I was a kid and one got in the house at night.
2. We always learned about the British and the Americans in the Revolutionary War and again in the War of 1812. Well, there was definitely a third side, the Iroquois confederacy and other tribes, sometimes fighting with the Americans and sometimes with the British. I learned the extent of the betrayal the Natives suffered during those times. And I was not proud.
3. Should the word loyalists be capitalized, I wondered. Not usually, so I found, but I decided to give this group more credibility and capitalized Loyalists. I did the same with Natives.
4. Governor Simcoe used a plan to settle those people with strong Loyalist leanings on land along the Niagara River and to dole out land further away from the border to those without Loyalist ties. Of course this makes sense because Canada was just in its infancy as was the United States and Simcoe was uncertain of his settlers’ allegiance. Families lived on both sides of the border, a circumstance with which Sir Isaac Brock had to deal when war came in 1812.
5. Redans and redoubts confused me so that I decided to save my readers and just use redoubts in my book. For the record a redan is a V-shaped work, usually projecting from a fortified line. A redoubt is an isolated work forming a complete enclosure of any form, used to defend a prominent point. My story line did not suffer because I opted to avoid the redans.
6. Before the American Revolutionary War, traffic traveling on the present-day U.S. side of the border around the Falls used the road built specifically to portage around the Falls. After the Revolutionary War, the British had to build a new road on their side of the Niagara River. This Portage Road went from Queenston Heights to Chippawa and parts of that route still carry the Portage Road name.
7. In school we learned that the War of 1812 went from 1812 to 1814. The Treaty of Ghent was in fact signed in December, 1814 but there were no cell phones or even telegrams to spread the news. The last battle was actually fought in early 1815 when the British troops on the North American continent, not knowing about the peace, attacked at New Orleans and were severely trounced.
These are the types of tidbits that make researching and writing historical fiction so interesting for writers. Consider leaving a comment with your own research and reading discoveries.