What would someone like Princess Diana have accomplished if she had been given more time?
I always wondered that about explorer Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark fame. He accomplished more than many people manage in a full lifetime, all to be cut down by two gunshots on the Natchez Trace at the age of 35.
Historians are divided about whether Lewis’s death was suicide or murder. The United States government classifies it as ‘mysterious.’
A famous explorer dies alone in the early hours of October 11, 1809, wounded in the head and the abdomen. He is buried in a shallow, unmarked grave for almost 50 years. Although he is a federal employee on government business, no federal investigation of his death is conducted.
He is forgotten until 1848, when the state of Tennessee moved his body and erected a marker to honor him.
My novel is partially an attempt to give Lewis more time, to craft a different ending for a life that was extinguished too soon. That he’s a ghost grappling with the modern conveniences of 1977 adds a twist to his experience.
In the book, Lewis is charged with delivering nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney from a life of prostitution in New Orleans and finding her father in Nashville. Emmaline is fictitious, but part of her story is inspired by events in my own family.
When my cousin was in third grade, she was taught about the etymology of money. As a school assignment, she wrote her name on a dollar bill and was instructed to spend it. The teacher thought perhaps a student would get one back in change someday.
She’d been separated from her father (and my uncle) by a bitter divorce. She was very attached to her dad, and he to her. But family law being what it was in the 1970s, the mother almost always got custody. When she made it difficult for him to see his daughter, he moved to another state.
Eight months after she wrote her name on that dollar bill, her father called her. He’d gone out for something - a pack of gum, maybe. When he collected his change, a dollar bill with his little girl’s name on it fluttered on top.
It was his daughter’s dollar bill from her class assignment.
Her childish script on paper money renewed his resolve to fight for her. They were close until he died.
As to how I tied Lewis and Emmaline together………well, they insisted. Sometimes, fiction happens that way, with loud characters and a really excellent bad guy.
One copy - print or eBook, winner's choice. Print open to US only, eBook open internationally. Leave a comment about this post. Also you can read my review here