While I’m recovering from pneumonia, I decided to:
1. print out the first half of Kindred and have at it again.
2. make a list of everything that could possibly go wrong for Ian and Seona in the sequel. Not that I would make them go through it all. This is just early brainstorming. I need to keep researching the development of certain New York counties, to know what other options for Things To Go Wrong I might include. Sloppy and illegal surveying by James Fenimoore Cooper’s father, William, is high on the list.
3. read The Fire in Fiction, by Donald Maass, to help in strengthening any weaknesses I can find (oh, slippery objectivity!) in Kindred.
4. watch all my favorite period movies. The newer Pride & Prejudice is set in 1797, which is just perfect for me in regards to the fashions. In listening to the director’s commentary, I learned that he chose this era because those high-waisted Empire gowns–you know, the very unflattering ones that make even slender girls look pregnant–were not yet in fashion (though They Are Coming, as foreshadowed by Caroline Bingley). The waistlines were lower, more flattering. The reason I set Kindred in the mid-1790s was a fashion-related one, but it was all about the guys. I wanted Ian in knee breeches, not those tight-fitting trousers, which I find as equally unflattering as the Empire gowns. I also wanted Ian to have long, tailed hair, not the cropped, brushed forward look of the early 1800s.
The 1790s is a fascinating decade to me. Early in the decade fashions were more reminiscent of colonial styles, but by the end of the decade they were beginning to resemble the classic Regency look. Not to mention what was going on outside the world of fashion: frontiers pushing westward and native tribes fighting back; government taking shape; inventions that would change the landscape of the south; the first generation of “Americans” finding their way as adults in the world their parents fought to give them.
A very cool decade to be writing in.
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