STOLEN!

Don't panic, I haven't had thieves!
But I do have a lovely lady here 
to talk about her historical novel... 

 Please welcome    Sheila Dalton


First of all, a big thank you to Helen for inviting me to post on her blog. [my pleasure] I’d like to tell you about how my new novel (my first historical), Stolen, came to be. Though hard to pinpoint its origins exactly, it was triggered by trips to both Morocco and Devon, England.

I was born in England, and, when I was a child, Devon was one of the areas both my mother and I loved. Something about the moors, the wild ponies, even Dartmoor Prison with its forbidding granite walls, fired my imagination. In 2010, my husband and I visited a friend from my university days in Newton Abbot. While there, she took us on a tour of the pirate caves and coves. It was fascinating to learn how much pirate activity there was in this area in the 1600’s. I spent a lot of time in Newton Abbot’s wonderful old library, perusing their local history collection.


On a later trip, my husband and I went to visit an American friend who worked for the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. She took us to Meknes, to visit the underground dungeons where the Christian slaves were once kept. Unfortunately, the dungeons were closed to visitors that day, but those small holes in the earth to let in air and light - the only part of the dungeons visible -  stayed in my mind.  When I returned to Canada, I started reading about the Christian slave trade and learned that some of the raids by the Barbary Corsairs took place in the 1600’s along the same part of the coast I had recently visited in Devon.

Reading about the seventeenth century was an eye-opener. It was the era of exploration and colonization, when both the black and white slave trades flourished, if such a word can be used for this horrendous business, and new settlements were opening up in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Different races were meeting each other for the first time, and the results were often far from harmonious. It was also considered the Golden Age of Piracy. As I read, what struck me very strongly was how rough the era was, how badly people treated each other, everywhere, it seemed.

Slavery as we know it was only part of it. There were vagrancy laws in England that meant a beggar or homeless person could be arrested and sent to the colonies as an indentured servant - a position they might remain in until death. Indentured servants were sometimes treated even worse than slaves, because they were not considered as valuable. A slave was an investment for life. An indentured servant was deemed expendable. Many died in transit, or after only a few years of hard labour and terrible living conditions. Because what interests me in historical fiction (of which I am a huge fan) are the personal stories of the ‘little people’ caught in the maelstrom, I began thinking about what it might be like to live in an era as complex and difficult as the seventeenth century, when ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ was so much in evidence.

What would it be like to be an innocent, idealistic young woman who comes home from market to find her village destroyed, her parents gone? What would it be like to discover the cruelty in your own country towards the ‘disadvantaged’? I thought it might shock a sheltered young person to her core. I also pondered how someone struggling to survive in such an environment could be confronted with moral dilemmas that could damage her self-regard.

My heroine, Lizbet Warren, is not a saint. She does what she must to survive, but she is intelligent and self-reflective enough that her choices trouble her. She is incredibly strong, a fighter who is dedicated to helping her abducted parents. However, as a lone woman her choices are severely limited, and life inevitably gets in the way of her efforts. She is also very human, in that she is drawn to strong, dominant men even though she clearly sees their flaws. She is quite a complex creature, but no more than many of us, then or now, I’m sure.


Because I am new to the genre, I can only hope I’ve done justice to the historical material. I’m a researcher and editor by trade, so doing the background reading came naturally to me. I tinkered a bit with historical facts, but tried to be true to the tone and feeling of the age, as I interpreted it.
Now it is up to readers to judge whether Lizbet’s story is a tale well-told.


Devon, England, 1633: 
Lizbet Warren’s parents are captured by Barbary Corsairs and carried off to the slave markets in Morocco. Desperate to help them, Lizbet sets out for London with the only other survivor of the raid, the red-haired orphan, Elinor. The unlikely pair are soon separated, and Lizbet is rescued from a public whipping by a mysterious French privateer, Jean Vallée, who takes her to his Manor House in Dorchester where he keeps her under lock and key.
Later, Lizbet is captured at sea by the pirate Gentleman Jake, and forced to join his crew. She forms complex bonds with both of her captors; but never forgets her parents and uses all her skills to enlist the aid of these men to find them.
Her quest leads her to the fabled courts and harems of Morocco and the tropical paradise of Barbados.
Rich in historical detail and based on true events, Stolen is the story of a brave but endearingly human young woman who perseveres in the face of incredible odds to establish her place in a new world. It is also the story of friendship, the mother-daughter bond, the complexities of consent and love - and a daring rescue.

[Helen: looks good doesn't it? Mind you Devon AND pirates? This sort of story is bound to be a must read for me! :-) ]
Sheila would love to be a guest on other blogs
if you run a blog and you are looking for guests 
why not email her?
Sheila's website 
Amazon.ca - ebook
Amazon.com - ebook
Amazon.co.uk  - ebook

Facebook
Twitter @sheladee

6 comments:

  1. Lovely to be here, Helen. And good luck with the contest. I've voted, and I hope others will, too.

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    Replies
    1. :-) Lovely to have you here! (and thank you for the vote - I'll put the cutlass away!

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  2. I so want to go to Newton Abbot’s old library now! Just downloaded the book from Amazon. I think readers like me will tell you when justice is brought to a book in a genre. However, I believe that historical fiction does need to leave room for creation and intrigue. That is what stimulates readers like me with imagination. Otherwise, people can go buy a history book. I want the fiction element with strong character development and plot! Ok I am a demanding reader. However, I admit that I am rooting for Lizbet Warren already!

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    1. The old library is on my To Do list now as well Ginger!

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    2. Oh wait... that was Kate O'Hearn's book that was in Costco... A long story but I did help sell a few copies that day. Anyways, I have talked about your red tea pot and books to other readers. So excited with the new book! It was a very good price too! $5.99 and it has two reader reviews already!

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    3. Thank you so much, Ginger. I hope you enjoy the book. And I also hope you get to Newton Abbot one day, and visit the library. I was there over 6 years ago. I hope it is still there. The pirate caves and coves certainly are, and they're worth a visit, too.

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