Novels certainly do have a life of their own. In FINDING HOME, Richard Breeze, the male protagonist, seeks more excitement than working in his father’s sawmill offers. My co-author and I weren’t sure where Richard would find that excitement, but we wanted him to be well educated. We knew that the Newburgh Academy was located in a community not far from the Breeze home in Forest Mills. But was it operating in the 1870’s?
According to a book about the Academy, it was. I also discovered something unusual: boys from wealthy British families in the Bahamas studied there. Sending their sons back to England for a proper education proved too costly, so the families asked Egerton Ryerson to suggest a suitable educational institution in the British colony of Upper Canada. He recommended Newburgh Academy.
During the time of our story, several young men from the Bahamas were studying there. How perfect was that? Richard could befriend one of them at school and later be invited to visit. Life in the islands would be far more exciting than the Breeze sawmill in Forest Mills.
But what could Richards do? What was happening in the Bahamas in the 1870’s? There was no more booty from the American Civil War – it had ended by that time – but there was a pineapple industry on Eleuthera Island.
Voila! Richard’s friend’s family owns a pineapple plantation. Richard is invited there to work, but it turns out there are ulterior motives. You’ll have to read the book to find out what they are…
As I said, novels have a life of their own.