How can a Yankee write about Southerners? That’s a good question for my Civil War book Blood, Innocence and Glory. Author John Jakes got the same question after he wrote his excellent Civil War trilogy.
Well, I’ve had Southern friends, and they were certainly interesting. My friend Victoria was from Florida. Her father owned a citrus plantation. Her mother was a blueblood and very proud of it. Victoria even had her own mammy. My girlfriend Sharon and her brother Doug were from Louisiana. Doug was my best friend in high school. He taught me how to fish. I love fishing! But I refused to go hunting. Of course, I love New Orleans: the food, the people, the sites. No wonder Tennessee Williams made his home there.
And that brings me to my friend Sandy. Sandy lived in a suburb of Nashville. When I was researching Blood, Innocence and Glory, I put a headline on a blog that read, “ATTENTION: SOUTHERN WOMEN.” Sandy wrote back and we corresponded back and forth about the Civil War. Sandy loved all the southern generals. She knew their horses’ names and odd facts about them. She taught me about Southern culture and how Southerners think. She told me how Southerners regard Yankees; most of it was unflattering. Then Sandy visited Chicago and my family showed her around. Sandy was impressed that Chicagoans were so friendly. Well, Chicagoans are friendly. When I was a receptionist in graduate school, all our clients from New York couldn’t get over how friendly Chicagoans are. Yes, Chicago’s a great city, and our people make her great.
Anyway, back to Sandy….She helped me craft the characters of Delia Delancy and Sarah Collins, Southern women who hate Yankees and are loyal to the Confederacy. Then Delia falls in love with a Yankee. I had so much fun writing about that. I laughed and laughed when I edited her scenes. Sarah Collins was my femme fatale.
So many thanks to Victoria, Doug, Sharon, and Sandy for helping me craft my Southern characters.
I had fun writing this novel; it took years of research, and I hope you enjoy it. Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaway. It ends December 15.