It has been my habit to censor every word when I write. But, after fifteen years of reading about the era and the people of the Creek Indian War, I let the images in my mind dictate the words on the page. I told it as I saw it. This was a tumultuous time, wild and angry. There was little sweet and gentle about it. In order to create the appropriate sense of danger, those images were necessary. And though Swimming with Serpents is set against the backdrop of the Creek Indian War. It is told not from a warriors' perspective but from the perspective of the people who endured that time. I wanted their story to be real and their tale to be told as honestly as I could conceive of the lives of these individuals who lived in my mind.
Perhaps there is a bit too much history in the beginning. But building a foundation for a series of books takes time. I hope you, the readers of Swimming with Serpents, will settle in with your introduction to the people who were the major players of these events, absorb (or become acquainted with in order to refer back to) the genealogy of those who fought this war, and let Cade and Lyssa tell you their story. On my website, http://www.sharmanbursonramsey.com, you will find these genealogies listed along with pictures and brief histories of the major characters. Many of them play a part in the sequels to this novel. In addition, you will find a Readers Guide to the novel to provoke thought on the causes of the Creek Indian War which might actually be causes of war in today's world: culture clash, religion, economics.
Is the book appropriate for Young Adult readers? A friend who was a former high school librarian did not have alarm bells go off when she read the book. Are the topics appropriate? Courage, love, war, commitment, family and redemption? This is a history of our country that hasn't been told and yet, if our DNA is any clue, it is a story many of us harbor in our past that has been kept secret. This was indeed a secret of my own family. Exposing young readers to these ideas must be a decision between parents and teachers.
"To the victor belongs spoils," said New York senator William Marcy of Andrew Jackson's presidential victory of 1828. But not just the spoils, the victor owns the story that will be told. I hope to redeem the story for the Native Americans who lost 25,000,000 acres of land to Andrew Jackson in the treaty of Fort Jackson. That is a large part of Alabama, the state of my birth, a state in which my roots are generations deep. This story is mine -- and yours. I am constantly reminded that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Swimming with Serpents sets the scene for the sequel which is to be released next year, Nest of Vipers, which follows survivors of the Creek Indian War into Spanish Florida and the First Seminole War.
Why did I write these books? How could I not? The history in these books is real. I wanted to put flesh and blood on the facts and make this era come alive for my readers. These people deserved to have their tale told. I hope they come alive for you as they have for me.
Sharman Burson Ramsey
September 17, 2012