Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End Musings

As I ponder the further direction of my new novel, The Season of the Crow, I struggle to come up with fresh ideas for plot direction. I know where the book is going. I am just not quite sure of all the side roads it is going to take to get there.

Anyone who has written a work of fiction can tell you that it is a challenge to bring to life characters, action, and story in a new and fresh way. It is indeed difficult to do what no one else has ever done. The old saw "there is nothing new under the sun" is especially true of literature.

At the same time, I believe I am making solid headway with this book, which will have several plot lines woven through it. A family of slaves struggles to find a new life in western North Carolina. Former Confederates deal with the realities of the reconstruction era. Duty to former compatriots impinges on the effort to return to a normal life. Nightriders wreak havoc on blacks and whites alike.

The book will doubtless be better written than the first, with greater depth, more involved plotting, and (believe it or not) even more excruciating and extreme violence. Even as I write it, I cannot help but wonder if the real facts of that place and time were much worse than my story would indicate.

The South after the Civil War was a harsh, embittered and impoverished place. Western North Carolina was no different. While spared from the worst depredations of the likes of Sherman, Sheridan and their ilk, it was nonetheless battered by the economic hardships of the war compounded by the burden of the thousands of dead and wounded. The former burdened the land with grief; the latter burdened it with wrecked bodies and minds. Maimed and scarred, they tried to return to life at home, but it would never be the same.

I hope to complete the book in 2008. As this year draws to a close, I would like to wish you, dear reader, a very Happy and Peaceful New Year.