My novel, Receive Me Falling, is set on the Caribbean Island of Nevis. Many people have never heard of it. I only heard of it because a friend visited the island and told me that it was the most beautiful place she’d ever seen.
At the time, my husband and I were thinking of going away for our anniversary, so I started looking into hotels on Nevis to plan a trip. I looked through travel websites and found many beautiful pictures of the island, but the picture above got me thinking about the history of the island. The picture shows the ruins of the Bath Hotel, which was a resort on Nevis for the very wealthy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
After some more photo probing, some online research, and a read of some historical texts the idea for the novel was born. Many of the photographs I saw showed the collision of the old world and the new. For example, there were sugar mill ruins by luxurious hotel pools and golf courses. There were islanders in historic dress catering to travelers. It made me a little queasy, and I thought, what would a woman raised on an eighteenth century sugar plantation–who actually ran the plantation–do if she found herself at odds with her situation? Could she give up the lifestyle for what she believed in?
I wrote the novel as historical fiction, but when it was completed, something was missing. My husband read the draft and suggested that a present day character researching the past might make it more relevant to a group of readers beyond those who just enjoy historical fiction. Though I wasn’t thrilled with the thought of writing another novel in the present day to weave into the one I’d already completed, the more I played with it, the more it worked.
So the character Meghan Owen was born, and she had a vested interest in the plantation on Nevis because it came to her through an inheritance following the untimely death of her parents. Along with the physical setting, parallel plot lines of familial betrayal and deceit, and difficult choices about lifestyles brought the past and present characters together. I hope it will now appeal to a broader audience than it did as “plain” historical fiction.
Did we ever get to Nevis? No. But our ten year anniversary is coming up, so maybe it’s on the horizon…
(Photo credit: nevisoralhistory.org)