Monday, April 9, 2012

The Backstories

Each Other was a tough baby to deliver. I tried many times to let the story go, to put it away, shelve it and forget it but it wouldn't let me go. The outline for the story came to me one afternoon while I was at home in Tucson, AZ. It felt as though the main characters, Annie and Warren, were tapping me on the shoulder, tugging at my sleeve and saying, "Tell our story." In fact, about one year into the writing, my family made a dramatic move from the southwestern U.S. to the northeast and in that long process of selling a house and 70% of our belongings, packing up, finishing school schedules and finding new jobs, my book was put on hold for several months and eventually, packed up too. We drove two cars across country in June of 1997 with a very patient and adventurous eleven year old son and no relief driver. Exhausted, I had nightmares each night. The theme of the dream was the same in each nightmare: I had neglected a child, a young baby, only to find it in its crib, hungry and whithered where I had forgotten it. I was haunted by this image and had to figure out what the baby represented. Rubbing my  tired eyes over a cup of coffee in a restaurant somewhere in Iowa one morning, I realized it (the baby in my dream) was symbolic for my book. The baby , neglected and needing care,had been abandoned and was waiting for me. Then finally, many weeks later when we got settled in a new home, I returned to my box of books and papers and the beginnings of a novel that I was determined to reconnect with, to research and write.

Annie Cunningham, the main character in Each Other is a Union spy living in nothern Virginia. As a writer and reader myself, I had never been interested in the topic of female spies of the Civil War until one day  when I was purchasing books for a library that I managed, and I became intrigued by a book that told the stories of many women spies from history, some of whom had dressed as men and were not discovered to be the opposite sex until they were wounded. As I read on about the topic, I discovered that women spies were key to important events on both sides of the (American) Civil War.
They passed notes, gave safe harbor to other spies who had to pass between the lines, learned of troop movements and battle plans all at their own peril to follow their convictions.


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