I got inspired yesterday after having been directed to websites like Goodreads and Book and Author. All of those websites have book groups who apparently seek out Reading Guides for their discussions. So, I decided mine might benefit from having one as well. The process of developing the Reading guide gave me a fresh perspective on my novel.
Swimming with Serpents is layered like an onion. On the first level, it is historical fiction, set against an historical backdrop and involving real life historical figures. But, it is also the love story of Cade Kincaid and Lyssa Rendel. I always knew my purpose in writing the novel was greater than telling another love story, though on the most superficial level that is exactly what it is. I am a firm believer that love is a basic need that drives every individual. Everyone's life is their own unique and individual love story. It may be a story of happy fulfillment, constant striving, or tragic loss. The love story in Swimming with Serpents propels the novel, but peel back that layer and you land in a war.
Swimming with Serpents gives a fresh look at War in general and specifically through the Creek Indian War. We go back 200 years and see it from the perspective of those who lived through it. Some of you may remember the We Were There series of books that came out in the late fifties. My mother bought every one and I read every one. That was the beginning of my love of historical fiction. I am well aware that people who would never read non-fiction learn their history through historical fiction.
To the victor belongs the spoils -- and the story. The Native American perspective has been lost in time. The names of those who fought are hard to find. In the past few years I discovered genealogy through which I found my own Native American heritage. Perhaps it was hushed up because back then it was considered shameful and having Native American blood had the consequence of having one sent from the place of their birth to a land foreign and far away. To protect themselves, the stories of those people did not get told. I am trying to remedy that discrepancy and in the process look at war through the eyes of those who lived it.
I hope the novel is a good read, fast paced and exciting. I hope my characters grab your hearts and make you want to read further. But, in the process, I also hope that we might see how religion and the economy can become contributing factors to war. I hope we can see how the disruption of the social structure of a society, family and interpersonal relationships can erupt into violence. I hope we can learn to see how vulnerable one can be to those driven by greed and avarice and how laws can be manipulated to advantage the powerful.
In the process we might question how do the powerful manage to convince others to march to the beat of their drummer? "Remember Fort Mims" brought out an army that followed Andrew Jackson despite near starvation. But why? And might this question, seeking the answer to the why, have significance in today's world?
Upon further reflection on this novel I think I really should have titled it Swimming with Serpents: Love, War and Redemption.
I will post the Readers Guide to my website. When you read the novel, I would love to have you share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.