My newest book and first historical romance has just been released on all e-book platforms. It’s a time travel romance, set during the beginnings of the American War for Independence and several people along the way to getting it published have asked me what inspired me to write this particular book. So here’s the answer to that query.
Back when I lived on the Maine coast, I came across a book by Bill Caldwell, The Islands of Maine, Where America Really Began. It was a fascinating book about the earliest European settlers in New England. From my front yard I could see one of those islands mentioned in Mr. Caldwell’s book. Historian Charles K. Bolton also wrote of this island in his book, The Real Founders of New England, noting that four hundred years ago, “Here was the chief maritime port of New England. Here was the rendezvous for English, French and Dutch ships crossing the Atlantic. Here men bartered with one another and with Indians, drank, gambled, quarreled and sold indentured servants.” Four hundred of years ago, two hundred years before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower there were “wharves, salting houses (for fish) sheds, boatyards, taverns and perhaps a bawdy house or two for sailors coming ashore after a long Atlantic Crossing” clustered on this tiny island called Damariscove.
Edward Winslow, the Pilgrim representative who came begging for supplies in 1622, wrote in his journal that he and his group were graciously welcomed with “Kind entertainment and good respect and a willingness to supply our needs . . . and that there were 30 ships of sail anchored in the harbor.” Damariscove Island is only two miles long and not more than a quarter mile wide, yet, in 1675 three hundred refugees fleeing Indian wrath sheltered here. A century later, just before the start of the Revolutionary War a British Naval captain put ashore here and stole 75 sheep to feed his sailors before turning south to burn present day Portland to the ground.
During the war of 1812 (the Second War of Independence) the HMS Boxer and the USS Enterprise fought a famous sea battle so close to the island that the inhabitants of Damariscove watched the fight from their own shore. (Just another bit of interesting history, the captain of HMS Boxer, Samuel Blyth who was just 29 years old, and the American Lieutenant William Burrows age 28 who captained the USS Enterprise were both killed in the battle and were buried side by side in a cemetery in Portland, Maine with full military honors.)
Is it any wonder that I was fascinated with this scrap of land I could see from my front yard? So one day, my dad, my daughter and I sailed out to Damariscove one glorious summer day to explore. As I stood gazing down at the narrow harbor Winslow’s words came back to me, and I marveled that 30 sailing ships big enough to cross the Atlantic could have fit in that long gut of bright blue water. There were, just as Bill Caldwell had described, many old granite foundations scattered on the high ground above the harbor and as I stood on the cornerstone of one of the largest foundations, I tried to imagine this island full of people and what life might have been like here in an era when brave young captains ventured forth to harass the British Navy or carry ships filled with salted cod and furs across the Atlantic to Europe. There were tales of a ghost who roamed the island with his faithful dog, but of course there was no sign of him. Or any of the other souls who had called this place home for hundreds of years.
Then the rock beneath my feet wobbled. I jumped back alarmed, not wanting to tumble into the long abandoned cellar hole. But as I watched a small shower of loose gravel and dirt tumble into the daisy-lined hole the seemingly random thought came to me, “What if I fell in, hit my head and was knocked unconscious, but when I came to my senses again there were sturdy floor joists over my head and a door enclosing me in a basement filled with the sorts of things kept in basements a long time ago?” As we climbed back in our dinghy and headed back to the sailboat, that question continued to rattle around in my head and that was the beginning of my story, Iain’s Plaid. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed imagining it and committing that tale to paper.
Available at: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Google, iBooks
To get a sneak peak - here's an excerpt from Iain's Plaid