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Historical Novels and Real-life Influences

As I await the launch of my debut novel in less than a week, my focus turns to my next project. My historical novel, Serabelle, follows the life of a young maid on an estate (or a "summer cottage" as they were called), on the coast of Maine in 1913.

I actually started this book years before Where Are We Tomorrow?. An early draft of Serabelle was my thesis for grad school. It's been fun to dig back into this time period. We novelists grab pieces of our own history, images we have seen, and lines we have heard and try to weave them into an exciting plot line.

I grew up in Maine. My mother's family hails from the Bar Harbor area, so we spent many summers tripping around their old haunts. The idea for the novel arose because my great-grandmother was a maid on the Sonagee Estate (see photo) owned by Atwater Kent (isn't that a great name??) of radio fame. The estate has played a large role in our family lore. A sapphire and moonstone brooch that was reportedly given to my great-grandmother by Mrs. Kent herself was passed down to me. Unfortunately, the pin was stolen when my house was broken into years ago.

In the novel, the theft of jewels becomes a major plot-line focus. The lives of the servants and estate-owners become intertwined as they navigate prohibition and the rise of the suffrage movement. 1913 was a pivotal year in Maine politics. It's been a fun ride, working out the twists and turns in these characters' lives, fitting them into the changing political atmosphere of early 20th century Maine.

Now to find the book a home...

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