As a historian, writing historical fiction and romance is fantastic! To agents and editors, it can be a problem. I’m drawn to the past, to Rome, to England during the Regency, to Victorian England in the late 19th century and to the American Civil War. I’ve been told I write in too many eras, that I need one and to stay there.
I’ve been discussing pirates and vampires in 1800 England and last week, a journey back further to the times of gladiators in Ancient Rome. Today, I’ll take you to another era I love – The Civil War
150 years ago, this nation was nightmare, wrapped in the claws of the American Civil War. Officially, the War is called The War of the Rebellion. Unofficially, it has a slew of names – Civil War, War of Northern Aggression, War for Southern Independence, War for the Union and many more. Regardless of its title, this conflict is the pivotal point of American History. It defined us as a nation. Point being, we were a new country, a republic in a time where the “civilized world” was still run by monarchies, ie Western Europe, and the all hoped we failed to survive this calamity.
Lincoln understood this concept but it was intangible idea to the American public. We all know this is a War of friends against friends and brother fight brother.
Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, John Jakes North & South and the movie Cold Mountain have drawn attention of the turmoil but none of these are romances by any means. There is no happy-ever-after. Romance during the War is dead.
Selling a story of the American Civil War is hard. They say nothing new can be done and no body is interested. They also claim Regency is dying and the vampire thrill is gone. Ha! But I believe stories of that are so deep, so mind-bending – the tension, the drama, all the emotions – that there still is the fertile ground to write about and readers who will embrace them.
Therefore, let me introduce you to the opening of my upcoming Civil War novel, The Wicked North and so you how romance during the War of the Rebellion lived on!
The Wicked North –
Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can, and strike him as hard as you can. And keep moving on!
General U.S. Grant
Virginia, June 1862
Emma Silvers was not afraid to shoot Yankees.
She leveled the .57 caliber Enfield rifle toward the line of blue coats standing before her porch at Rose Hill that evening. She counted ten men, fully-armed and wielding torches. They reeked of wet wool, sweat and gun powder – a noxious mixture with the pink roses surrounding the house. Bile rose in her throat. She swallowed hard.
The officer took a step forward. In the dim light, she couldn’t discern his face though she saw him flinch as she pointed the muzzle at him.
“I want you off my land now,” she demanded, her voice remarkably even despite her pounding heart. At twenty two years and virtually alone, she knew one able-bodied man could easily overwhelm her. With no able men and few slaves remaining, she only had bravado left.
“Now, ma’am,” the Union officer began. He spoke like a gentleman but dressed in blue, he was a farce as far as she was concerned.
Jeremiah, just behind her right shoulder, cocked the hammer on his rifle- a welcomed noise to her ears. Good boy, Emma thought. If the Yankees didn’t believe she was a threat, she hoped the armed slave boy next to her got the message across. She wasn’t allowing any soldiers on her property again.
The rifle felt heavier by the minute, making her muscles ache and she feared she’d drop it. The weapon was foreign to her hands but as the war raged closer to her home, she learned to use it. She wasn’t very good at it but as close as the Yankees were, she was bound to hit one of them. She didn’t want to pull the trigger. The gun’s recoil would knock her off her feet, throwing her aim off. With so few bullets left, she’d hate to lose the shot.
The light streamed out of the open front door across the officer as he stepped onto the porch. She saw his face and the nose of the gun slipped. Jack Fontaine, that good-for-nothing traitor. How dare he come here, especially after what happened last summer. Rage took control and gave her the added strength to pull the muzzle up to his chest as she cocked the trigger.
“Emma, please,” he said softly. He looked at her the same way he had that night months ago, his green eyes glowed like emeralds in the light. She remembered those eyes, those mesmerizing emerald eyes. They were all hers the night she had lost her heart to him. The night he had betrayed her. Her anger flared. No. Not this time. Not again, she vowed. Gritting her teeth, Emma narrowed her gaze.
“Get away from me, Jack, or I swear to God, I’ll blow a hole through you and send you straight to hell!”
Inside the house, a scream of a babe wailed. Emma instinctively turned. Jack reached for her and she panicked, squeezing the trigger. The rifle exploded, throwing her backwards, pain shot into her shoulder. But instead of hitting the floor, she found herself in Jack’s arms as they wrapped around her, shielding her back from the impact on the wood floor.
The patrol stormed onto the porch, past them and into the house. Lying in his embrace, his body a shield over hers as his troops marched past them, Emma couldn’t breathe. Her eyes wide open. She felt the heat of him around her. The scent of him invaded her senses. Warm, masculine, and spice rolled up into one. She fought the heat in her belly but it was hard as his eyes locked onto hers and his lips only inches away.
She closed her eyes. Behind her, the wailing continued and she heard the thud of soldier boots inside. Her jaw tightened as she opened her eyes and glared at him. “Get off me, Jack.”
What times have you heard of as dead but you still write of and why? Share a 250 word section for us.