My debut novel, Where Can I Flee released last summer. I shared my testimony last week and in doing so, I shared with you some of the inspiration behind the novel. You can read my testimony here if you missed it last week. Today I want to share with you another form of inspiration. I think many of you will be surprised to find behind the pages of Where Can I Flee are real historic accounts based on a local town in southern Tennessee.
Most brilliant ideas start with one simple question, “What if?” The Ancient Words Series had such humble beginnings. As a Christian fiction fan, I enjoyed reading a series called, Love Finds You In… This series is not owned by one author, but rather several authors have put novels in. Each novel is based on a real town with a unique name. The story’s theme has to incorporate the town’s name as well as any specific details that makes the town stand out. After reading several books in the series, I asked myself the question, “What would I write about if I wrote something for this series?” Traveling around the country for research wasn’t an option for me, so I decided to think locally. What town within driving distance could I write about.
There were two towns that stuck out with unique names: Bell Buckle and Wartrace. Bell Buckle didn’t conjure up any story ideas, but Wartrace did! I knew right away that I wanted to tell a story about war – spiritual warfare and the Civil War. I tinkered with this story idea for a year before something solid came together. Since I hoped to write the story for the Love Finds You In series, I checked their website to find out how I might submit my book, but quickly found that my work was all wrong for their series. Not to be deterred, I changed the name of Wartrace to the fictional name, Maple Grove, and began telling a tale of love, history, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Although I changed the name of Wartrace, I still clung to historic accuracy in most areas. The hard-hitting historian may take me to task over a few minor details since I tweaked small details to fit my needs. I trust I’ll be forgiven in the end since I did lay out a Fact and Fiction section at the end of the novel where I share the areas that I changed as well as how many details were based on fact.
What you can expect to find are many details concerning the life of the average soldier during the war as well as facts concerning a real Confederate regiment that sprung up from Bedford county and its surrounding counties. After I decided to focus my story on Wartrace, I asked the question, “What regiment would a man join in the Confederacy from Wartrace, Tennessee in June of 1861?” I found that this man would have joined the 17th Regiment of Tennessee Infantry. I then followed this regiment and learned about the battles they engaged in. All of the battles mentioned in the series as well as any of the stops and dates are as accurate as I could make them. Where Can I Flee focuses on the first 2 years of war and many local stops are mentioned such as Beech Grove, Tullahoma, Shelbyville, Nashville, and Murfreesboro. Being a representative of this real regiment, my fictional character, Frank Harper, engages in 3 battles in Kentucky, is present at Shiloh (although not engaged), and participates in the Battle of Stones River. I continue with this regiment and their travels in the 2nd book of the series titled, In the Shadow of Thy Wings.
Although I spent countless hours researching the battles, life, and experiences of the common soldier, I feel like I should add a disclaimer. I had attempted to study the battles in detail, but was never able to wrap my mind around the military activity during a battle. Because of this deficiency, I chose not to write from an eagle’s eye point of view where I explain all the actions from both sides, but rather, I chose to zoom in on one man and tell what he was feeling in that hour. Was he scared and shaking? Was he numb and simply going through the motions without thought? How did he feel as he watched his first target fall? It was these emotions that I wanted to bring to life and I just hope I’ve done it justice. My uncle, who retired from the Navy after 20 years of service, had given me hope that I had in fact done well in this area. He commented recently on being able to connect with the character just from the small glimpses he was given through the various advertisements I’ve posted around Facebook. This was a big encouragement to me because I had focused my mind on the historical army, never realizing that what I wrote might strike a cord with the current military man.
Locals will be pleased to learn some interesting facts about Shelbyville as well as finding the mention of Chockley Tavern and the mention of a skirmish that took place in Wartrace in April of 1862. But more than local history you’ll also find the vibrant testimony of Jesus Christ weaved through out the pages of this novel.
Where Can I Flee is sold on Amazon. To learn more about the novel and its dutiful writer visit my official site and follow on Facebook.
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