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I scribbled the last words of Luna City #8 early Thursday afternoon. Left it all in suspense on the final page, as is usual with the Luna City series; resolve all the main story lines, wander down a few amusing byways as regards the (created) local history, explore the lives or experiences of characters, set up hints regarding the next installment, and then leave it all on a (temporary) cliff-hanger. (It should be available by the end of June or early July, BTW.)

Yes, I’m evil that way. I want readers to buy the next
installment, ‘kay? Just so they can find out what will happen next. Look, this
has been the stratagem of story-tellers since the very art of story-telling
began.

And then I set to work earnestly on the next … for which I
had already scribbled two scene-and-character-setting chapters, and several
pages of notes about mid-19th century female abolitionists, and ordinary
women who took up the challenge of being battlefield nurses when the pustule of
the peculiar institution burst in 1860-61 and plunged most of the somewhat
united American states into a bitter and brutal war. They say that civil wars
are the worst. It’s as if the hatred is all the more bitter when it’s not some
alien and foreign invader burning crops, raping women, and stealing away the
best, brightest and most noble of youthful manhood, along with the harvested
crops: it’s all the more stinging when it’s kin and ex-friends doing all of the
above. I guess that it is the aspect of personal betrayal that makes it all the
worse.

It was all very complicated, you see. Human society, the
interactions that we have with those of our kind most usually is more
complicated that the political theorists and historians can comprehend. Just as
a brief example – a recent bio of Audrey Hepburn revealed that her mother was
quite the Hitler enthusiast … until the war began, Holland was occupied, and a
near and dear relation was executed by the Nazis. So – serious reconsideration
of sympathies, all the way around on the part of Mother-of-future-gamine-star.

Back to my original thought – the next book, set in the lead-up to, and during the Civil War, as seen through the eyes of a female abolitionist and later on, a volunteer nurse. Minnie Vining. She was briefly mentioned in Daughter of Texas and Deep in the Heart, and at slightly more length in Sunset and Steel Rails, so that I must ret-conn her character and story-arc from those brief appearances and fill out such experiences which were hinted at in those books. Only daughter among four sons of a long-established and respectable Boston family, a family whose experiences in the American Revolution were also hinted at … and why am I writing all my family saga backwards?  Starting from the 1830ies in Texas and filling it all in, backwards and forwards from that point? Eh … sounds like a personal problem.

So here it is – the next historical is a Civil War novel – a bit of a change in focus for me. Of the previous books, only one is set during that period, and that in the Texas Hill Country, where most key developments and events happened far offstage, and most main characters in it sincerely wished not to participate in the war effort in any way. The other books are set either before and on the frontier, or at some remove afterwards. This next one, with a working title of That Fateful Lightning goes straight into the weeds of the anti-slavery movement; how it came to be that the question of slavery roiled feelings throughout the decade before the war, and it how it came to be that partisans on both sides were more than willing to take up arms against kin, former friends, neighbors and total strangers.

I expect also to delve full into the eccentric operations of
Civil War battlefield hospitals. I already have a tall stack of reminiscences
by women who served in such hospitals, and in providing the necessary by
organizing fund-raising bazars and extensive shipments of home comforts to men
in the field. It may have been an almost natural thing for so many women to
take up nursing at that time. In the days before antibiotics and notions of
sterile bandages, women ordinarily spent a fair amount of time nursing the sick
anyway; children, husbands, brothers and sisters. Taking up a temporary career
as a war nurse was a natural extension. Organizing fresh bread, clean sheets,
and tempting invalid meals on an industrial scale – must have been just another
logical reach for someone already accustomed to doing so on a home-sized level.
I have been mildly boggled to find out how the pre-war Army medical
establishment, which was a tiny organization suitable to a tiny peacetime military,
came to depend so heavily on the various local Sanitary Commission volunteers
when it came to dealing with the huge numbers of casualties once the lead began
to fly in earnest.

I honestly don’t know how long this will take me: maybe as early as the end of this year, perhaps into next year, say mid-2020. But in the meantime, enjoy the other historicals, the Lone Star Sons volumes, and of course – Luna City.

2 Comments

  1. when will luna be published?