Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Remember When . . . The Date Jumped?

One thing that I have found to be super fun in my current series-in-progress is my epilogue. Ring of Secrets was set during the Revolution, with Winter and Bennet as heroine and hero. But my epilogue jumps 31 years to 1811, when war with England threatens again. That's where I establish that the historical spies which call themselves the Culper Ring may just have taken up the mantle again in the War of 1812, when the man who had once been their leader sat in Congress. (I mean, hello! Right?)
The fashion of
Whispers from the Shadows

As everyone no doubt knows by now, last Thursday I wrapped up Whispers from the Shadows, book 2 in the Culper Ring Series. And as I drew near to The End, I began rubbing my hands together, realizing I got to do the same thing again--write an epilogue that jumped through time to introduce the next book, as yet unnamed.

I'm not sure if I can adequately explain how or why this is so much fun for me, LOL. But I think it has to do with the fact that while I'm writing one book, I'm already plotting out the next. I already have an idea of who my new characters will be, what sets them apart, what makes their story tick. Yet in this case, I'm introducing it from the point of view of my existing characters. At the end of Ring of Secrets, they're talking about their kids and how their son, Thad, has brought them this news that makes them sure war is on the horizon again. Whispers from the Shadows takes place another three years after this epilogue, so it was like a little snatched moment--chronologically part of neither story, yet also part of both. It's the trade-off of the baton.

My epilogue for Whispers jumps even more than that of RoS. Forty-six years later, when South Carolina secedes from the Union that Thad and his family have fought their whole lives to protect...but what to do in this one? How to introduce my next Culper? See, since this isn't really part of either story, I hadn't already had it planned out. Nothing hinged on it. Yet it must hit just the right note to provide both closure to one tale and introduction to the next. It must intrigue, it must charm, yet it must also show the happily-ever-after.

Emma Stone, my model for Marietta
photo by Georges Biard, 2011
So in this one, I decided to use as a setting the wedding of my heroine from book 3, Marietta. By the time the next book opens, she'll be widowed and on the brink of coming out of mourning, the Civil War raging. She's the granddaughter of Thad, his favorite because she's so unlike the rest of the family--with such potential, yet refusing to embrace it. She's the difficult one, the one who probably turned her parents' hair gray. Book 3 will begin with him forcing her eyes open to what she brought into their family, and the book will be largely about her struggle to change, to learn to trust herself and her God, in an extremely high-pressure situation in which not only her life is on the line, but the life of the President. 

But here? She's just a pretty redhead he's watching through the doorway as she twirls around the dance floor in her white silk hoop dress. She's laughing, being charming. Totally oblivious to all the secrets. Fun, fun, fun.

Of course, since these snippet epilogues jump so much, I always find myself ready to write them and then having to pause to go, "Wait! I have no clue about the research for this. When should this be? What would they be wearing? What day of the week was it??"
Page from Godey's featuring 1860s wedding dresses

I obviously knew some of it--hoop dresses, whoo! But it's a fun change to consider. That my characters would have changed over those 30-40 years too, their dress and mannerisms, their interactions with each other. What was once new and exciting is now comfortable and expected. The love that had been an explosion is now a carefully maintained flame.

Yep. Fun.

And now, between books as I am momentarily, I get to brainstorm--one of my most favorite parts of writing. So don't be surprised if for the next month or so, you get some tidbits from me on other eras! And then, soon enough, I'll be immersed again in that dreadful War between the States.


  1. Well all I can say is WAY TO GO Roseanna! War-hopping! I'm anxiously awaiting this series...all the tidbits are so yummy.

    Okay, i have to admit this - everytime I see Culper, I say Culpepper in my brain. It's just such a lovely Southern sounding name.

    1. The name Culper is actually derived from Culpepper, Debra! When they were coming up with the fake last name for the members of the ring, they made it Culper as a nod to some Culpepper or another, LOL. =)

      And yes, this series is totally war-hopping. Who knew I'd end up writing about so many wars??

  2. Totally sounds fun! Absolutely. Enjoy girl!