I've been getting a lot of messages from excited folks who want to make sure I know that AMC is launching a series about the Culper Ring. So I thought I'd take a day to say:
Oh yes. I know. Didn't you hear me squealing?? =)
Launching Sunday, April 6 on AMC, Turn looks like it will be a dramatic, action-packed peek into the Revolution and American's first spy ring. And yes, I'm thrilled. I love that I get to watch the Culpers come to life. I love that they're starting with Abraham Woodhull's story. I love that it's based on Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose, the same book I used as my primary source for Ring of Secrets. I love that the Culper Ring is getting attention. And you know, if folks happen to go Amazon and do a search for it, that would be okay too, LOL. Cuz get what will pop up? ;-)
From all the trailers I so eagerly watch, Turn begins where the Culper Ring began--with Tallmadge recruiting Abraham Woodhull, on Long Island. It looks like this first season, anyway, will focus on his story. It's fitting, because that's really how the Culpers got their start. Woodhull is arrested by the Patriots for smuggling produce into New York City--but one of the officers is Benjamin Tallmadge, who grew up with Woodhull and who's looking for a dependable source of information for General Washington. So the question put to Woodhull is simple, but anything but easy: in exchange for his freedom, will he become a spy?
In Ring of Secrets, I begin my story later in the war, a couple years after these first events that Turn will cover this season. And though Woodhull is mentioned, he was actually sick through the months I cover, and basically out of commission. By that point in time, much of the weight of the Ring rested on the rather-unstable shoulders of Robert Townsend. I assume Rob will come into the TV series in later seasons, but he wasn't even known to the people at that early date. So it'll be fun to see how they move the plot along until where "my" characters enter. I can't wait!
I, of course, write a different kind of historical. My method has always been to use fictional characters to fill in the blanks of history, to interact with those historical figures. So while I do indeed have the same people Turn will have--Woodhull and Tallmadge and Townsend and Brewster and Roe--my focus is on people I made up. Isaac Fairchild, a British officer. Bennet Lane, a Yale professor out to find the Patriot spy in the City of New York.
And Winter Reeves. Winter is my Culper. We know they had operatives they never named, sources who remained completely anonymous. And though there has been a fair amount of buzz over the years about a female operative, the historical one wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted someone completely unknown. Not speculated about. With no facts to tie me down, LOL. So I created Winter. A childhood friend of Robert Townsend, thrust into the elite society of Loyalist New York. A Patriot who no one knows is a Patriot.
History says they probably disbanded. But you never know, right? They could have kept the group together. They could have kept working to hold their country together. And they might just have looked like this.