I began thinking about this several days ago. What drove me to go from historical research into creating people around which historical events and people whirled?
I can't remember when I didn't enjoy historical fiction. I don't remember exactly which book it was but do seem to think it had to do with Greece or Rome. [I was also deeply immersed in SciFi. If that was the case, why don't I try to write SciFi? I know! It's because I don't have the science background it takes to do it properly.]
This all came about as I was writing the story of the Frenchman Bouchard who attacked el presidio de Monte Rey and then sailed south to lay waste to the area around Misión Santa Bárbara.
How could I personalize this? Put people into the story? In writing this fourth novel, I changed my Main Characters to James, the son of Timothy Beadle, and his best friend, David, an Esselen Indian from the Carmel Valley. What would this event mean to them, their families, and the people around them?
At the same time, I strove to include the feelings and reactions of the victims of the attack, the soldiers of the presidio and their officers. How would Captain de Vega feel at seeing his command decimated, smoke rising from buildings so laboriously built? What would the people of Carmel do to help?
And, when it was all over, what would the repercussions be?
Historically, we know the civilians were sent from Monte Rey to Misión Soledad. We also know the deadbeat civilians at Villa de Branciforte would panic at hearing about the pirate raid and ransack the nearby Misión Santa Cruz. How would that affect the MCs and the people of Carmel?
It's actually a whole lot of fun trying to figure out how to do that – then actually turn it into words!
Well, here's an excerpt from the first, very rough draft,
James and David followed close behind, with Timothy and Jaime staying behind with the wagons carrying food and clothing. They had no idea what condition the soldiers were and the friars came along with medicines.
Captain de Vega sat on a charred stump used to moor visiting fishing boats, one of the most disheartened men either had ever seen. He held his head in his hands, furious and ashamed at the same time.
Felipe rushed to Juanita Maria, embracing their son and daughter, along with their grandchildren. She laughed with joy to find him only lightly wounded, but fussed until she removed the rough field dressing and replaced it with a better one.
While that was underway, the women went among the soldiers strewn before the earthen wall facing the sea, inspecting for wounds. Most had scrapes and bruises. Three had been killed and a half dozen lay on makeshift stretchers made by the pirates the friars immediately tended to.
Fray Carnicer knelt throughout, fingering his prayer beads and confessing his sins and weaknesses. When, at last, Fray Sarria was able to make him speak, he could only weep and declare how he had failed the men of the presidio and his oat to his Lord God.
Don Pablo Soler, the surgeon, lay upon one of the cots, his leg skewed from where it had been hit but a musket ball. He had tried using a crutch to help the wounded, only making the fracture in his leg worse to the point of severe bleeding. He bit down on a piece of leather as James and David pulled with all their might to reset the bone.
Fortunately, The Queen, the Carlita, and several other fishing boats arrived, carrying enough fish to allay the hunger of the soldiers. People from the pueblo had arrived and eagerly took away some fish for their cook fires.
How does that make you react?