Some Characters Beg to be Reborn
The three women of The Vance Legacy hadn’t physically died at the end of the book but their lives were essentially over in my head. They left Virginia, like a well-known neighbor who moves out of the neighborhood. You don’t exactly mourn their leaving and though you may wish them well, over time, you will forget them. That’s what happen to my relationship with Beth, Lillian and Rebecca.
Then people started asking me about a sequel, something that never occurred to me. I was done with those characters and had begun to do some research for another novel. However, the subject just would not go away. Besides the many emails I received from readers, many of the people closest to me, told me that the end of the book begged for a sequel.
Soon after publication, the book was chosen by a book club. After they had finished their group read, I was invited to dine with the club and talk about the novel. I was asked if I’d considered a sequel and though I honestly answered, “no,” the thought seemed to find a snug little place in my subconscious where it started to slowly grow like a tiny seedling.
In the meantime, I focused on my new project and took a trip to the Sea Islands of South Carolina to do some research on the Gullah people. As fate would have it, every time I tried to focus on the new novel, the old characters started to softly whisper bits and pieces of their new lives to me. The idea of newly freed slaves all alone in Philadelphia in 1838 was appealing to me and the seedling pushed its head through fertile soil and began to grow into an idea.
People sometimes ask me why there was so much time between the two books. The answer is simple. I never intended to write Dark Legacy. For more than six months I ignored the urging of my characters to be reborn but they kept whispering and the idea kept growing.
“I’ll watch over them,” Beth said. “What sort of woman will I be when I’m all grow up?” Rebecca wanted to know. Then one night I dreamed that Lillian had a friend. I woke up to Lillian’s soft whisper, “You didn’t give me a friend on the plantation.” I knew that Lillian would treasure friendship and she would be the most loyal friends.
New characters introduced themselves. “I’m Martina. Being sold away from the Gloria plantation was the best thing that could have happened in my life.” And, “I am Louis, the son Big Bill forgot about.”
Before I knew it, the idea had grown into a tree, its limbs and leaves intruding on every quiet moment.
My mind just would not move away from this seedling of a thought, that had grown into a tree of an idea. I knew at this point the characters would not stop whispering in my ear. The tree could not un-grow itself. There was nothing left for me to do, so I sat down and began to write.