Through my Literary Lens: Birth of the Legacy Series
Updated: Sep 18
I am sometimes asked if the first book in the Legacy Series, The Vance Legacy, is autobiographical. It isn’t. The Legacy stories are the result of historical research, a creative imagination and a passion for story telling. I get the impression that some people would feel more comfortable with the stories if they were autobiographical. Years after the great success of Alex Haley’s “Roots,” he admitted that a great portion of the novel was fiction. The Legacy stories are no more autobiographical than any other novel of the same genre, Roots, Gone with the Wind, The Kitchen House, etc.
All historical fiction is based on some historical fact. The black concubine on southern plantations was a well-known fact. This was one of the things that sparked my imagination. I learned that not all liaisons between planter and slave were the result of assault. I began to wonder what would happen if the planter was actually in love with his slave, as was suspected in the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. What if Mammy in Gone with the Wind had been a statuesque woman of color whose beauty was captivating? To what lengths would the planter’s wife go in order to win her husband back from the arms of his slave? These are the questions that sent my imagination soaring and produced the first novel. The Vance Legacy is at its heart, a story of forbidden love and the consequences of lies and betrayal.
When The Vance Legacy came to an end, I really believed that the story was over. However, some of my readers had questions about what happened to the three main female characters. A sequel never occurred to me until readers began to ask when the next novel was coming. I had to resurrect those characters at the point where they were abandoned. Lillian and Rebecca were now free and Beth returned to her much changed home in Philadelphia. How would Lillian and her daughter navigate through the world as free women of color? How would each of them fare in a city that was always on the brink of violence? These are the questions that I would answer in the second novel of the Legacy Series, Dark Legacy.
About the same time that Dark Legacy came to an end, I read about a group of archeology students from the University of Pennsylvania who were excavating a site in Burlington County, New Jersey. They were able to uncover the remnants of an all-black town called Timbuctoo. The town was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The time-line of the Legacy novels would lead me close to the outbreak of the Civil War. An all-black town, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the Civil War were all historical facts that could be the building blocks of a great historical novel. I began work on The Bowman Legacy almost as soon as Dark Legacy was published.
All three novels are available on amazon.com