And the time seems to be here. I've had characters from this "alternative history" Revolutionary War novel starting to romp up and down in my head in my dreams, lately. Dear Mr. Digges, my double-agent, was the latest, and even pointed me to where I could get a copy of his letters, from a book dealer in Gilroy. It arrived the other day, and I read a few and said "Oh, I knew you were Franklin's spy, but I didn't realize one of your main duties was aiding the escape of American prisoners" (a major plot point in our book). This morning, I sat down and wrote his initial letter to Franklin. The thing about this book is that Bob and I keep saying "Why didn't this happen?" and it seems to be simply a question of timing. A certain order of events needed to happen at a certain time, and it didn't quite make it. So we're helping them along, in parallel history. And all the players are telling us where to look for research (well, mostly telling ME, but this happens to me a lot. A side effect is going to probably be to end up with a LOT of material for articles for the historical magazines, about all these fascinating characters who were forgotten by history, like Captain Conyngham, or Thomas Atwood Digges, or Captain Silas Talbot (who isn't completely forgotten, but probably deserves to rival John Paul Jones.) Or maybe our young midshipsman, who introduced himself to Bob as our narrative voice that will weave a lot of this together. Funny about him. Bob said that he felt he would turn out to be someone highly important. He was, and I found him by accident. He's later to be Captain Christopher Perry, a capable naval commander, whose fame would be eclipsed by his son, Commodore Oliver Perry of "Don't Give Up the Ship" fame in the Battle of Lake Eerie. Then there is "Fireball" MacNamara, whom I have pledged to retrieve from history. He's been confused and merged with at least two other people, and become more myth than man. I want to find the REAL Fireball, of whom I've been finding bits and pieces (still larger than life).
I feel like a private investigator, unravelling a complex case. But then, uncovering history is often like that. It's just that this time, I'm uncovering history so that we can rewrite it a bit. From here on out, I don't doubt that this novel will be an interesting ride. The characters are starting to tell US what to do, and that's a good sign. But since so many of them are real people, perhaps their ghosts are simply playing out destinies they themselves had wished might be? It's definitely their story: I'm simply writing it down.