Monday, August 3, 2009

In the midst of revising

I was in the middle of Chapter Four late last night. I think I got up to the first time that Mady sees Henry before my eyes started drooping. But I finished reading Bury the Chains today, which will help me immensely.

Bury the Chains is about the British abolition movement in the late eighteenth to the early-to-mid nineteenth century, the only widespread abolition movement of its kind in Europe. I tagged it with Post-It strips while I read, green for general information (like about Quakers, who were early abolitionists or the effects of the French Revolution on Britain or how France banned slavery and then Napoleon reinstated it, the idiot) and orange for bits that I know I can use--like how slaves were treated on the island of Barbados, any ambience about Bristol, and how abolition societies sprung up or how black people lived in England at the time.



Which is all information I need. I had Mady join a ladies' abolition committee in the story, only to read that a) the international slave trade was abolished in Britain in 1807, made a felony in 1811, though the Caribbean territories still had slaves. With the worsening Napoleonic wars, the slave trade kind of took a backseat. So she wouldn't have been working towards abolition because it already happened in England, at least. Mady would be working towards emancipation. There were ladies' emancipation societies in the 1820s, before the slaves were freed for good in the British Empire. So I'm moving one up about ten years' time. It's a small one, anyway. I don't think anyone will notice.

I realized toward the end of Draft One that Mady is conventional in many ways--she likes to follow the weird societal rules because she's kind of prissy, but also because by following the rules, society cannot condemn her for anything she's done. They can only be prejudiced and that's their problem, not hers. She knows she's different in England and always will be, but instead of embracing it fully, Mady has learned and aped manners, rules, fashions and accents. When she was a very small child, after losing her mother and being sailed across the ocean to England, Mady saw shackled slaves being unloaded off a ship in Bristol, which was unlikely but still possible in 1800, and it's affected her ever since. It's Mady's biggest fear.

...Which means I have to use it, don't I? And I did. But in realizing the how and why of Mady, I've had to change things. I know there's an instance coming up later on where Mady mentions something about women having the vote. She would never say that--she probably wouldn't even think it--considering that at the time, very few men could even vote.

As I was writing Henry, he went from being your standard-Romancelandia-spy hero to being a half-Indian, half-English spy hero trying to leave the spying world. It gives him angst, as he's finishing his last mission and as he's trying to become acclimated to Britain again and it gives him something in common with Mady, since they're both a little out of the norm.

I planned Mady to have her background and Alex, originally, to be half-Chinese because, I will readily admit, of my own Japanese-Irishness and because of my dear friend Shawnese's story about how we were separated at birth by an evil scientist who made us look different so we could never find each other. And matters of race interest me rather than repel me, which is what I keep hearing is the normal state of things in America, that people don't want to talk about race.

But being the foreign cousin on at least one side of the family (seriously, pictures of me and my three younger, paler, blue-eyed, brown-and-blond-haired Irish cousins=hilarity) I think I know and am curious about related people looking and being different from each other.

Plus, as much as I adore reading romance novels that take place in Europe in the 19th century, most of the heroines are...well, white. And the TSTL ones (too stupid to live) are what I call "silly TV white girls." I think exactly one person reading this might understand that.

I read The China Bride by Mary Jo Putney, which had a half-Chinese heroine who knew feng shui, wing chun, calligraphy in almost expert detail. I mean, seriously! It was a bit much but at least she wrote a half Asian heroine at all.

Alex, at the moment, is being referred to as "exotic" and of "undetermined race." I changed her or rather, she changed herself because it seemed too far-fetched to have two daughters be close in age and have those ethnicities. And, you know, China's damn far from almost anything back in those sailing days and logistics were driving me nuts. I personally think Alex's unknown mother is Native American.

Wow! I didn't mean for this to be a novel unto itself. Sorry about the rambling. Million words, right?

I'm going to add in a glossary, probably linked to the side under Madeline's Story, of terms both historical and hysterical (TSTL being an example) so that when the time comes, y'all will have something to look at for definitions.

Peace & Love,
Rei

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for your comments and thoughts. Check back soon. I reply to all comments. Happy reading!