Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chesapeake Harvest by Terry L. White

Tell us about your heroine --- the female lead in your book.: The heroine in Chesapeake Harvest is a woman named Mary Charles. The daughter of privilege, Mary follows her heart to the streets of London where she is abandoned by her seducer, and must make her way through the highways and byways by selling first her clothing, then her person. Starving, Mary steals a bite of bread and lands in gaol, where she learns the true meaning of misery. When she thinks all is lost, Mary is brought before a judge and sentenced to deportation to the New World and Maryland colony. Her passage across the Atlantic is another chapter written in misery and it is only by chance that she escapes the sickness that breaks out during the voyage and lives to be sold on the block to a man willing to pay the price of her indenture in return for her services.

What's her name? Mary Charles.

Why did you pick that name? I find that my characters come to me with their stories – and their names -- in their pockets. Mary is representative of hundreds of victims of poverty who were transported to the colonies in order to empty the jails of petty criminals who cost the crown more than their worth to support, even in great privation. Those transported were charged with their own passage, which they had to work off in a state of enslavement for five years on what is now Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Mary seems to be a common name in most epochs of English history, and Charles sounded like a name given to members of the gentry.

Give us a brief description of how she looks. Mary once wore silk dresses and shoes of the finest leather, but her fall from the world of ease leaves her dressed in her mistress’s cast off clothing and garments of rough linen or wool that are more serviceable, but hardly alluring. Her hair is scraped back in a rough knot or braid and her hands are red and calloused from work.

Is there anything unusual about her appearance? Mary is the servant of a man who has connections to royalty, but in the colony even those born with status wear plain clothing that will stand up to the hard work of a frontier farm.

Who does she love? Mary loves Tom, a fellow indentured servant, but she is married to her Master William Baron, who chooses her as a wife when his dear spouse dies of marsh fever. Mary is grateful for the match, for she was raped earlier by the farm’s first male indenture, and she feels that her daughter will be safe if she marries her master. This change in status does not mean her work is lightened, only that she has traded one form of enslavement for another.

Does this person love her? William does not love Mary, although he honors her worth by offering her marriage, a custom of the time when there were fewer marriageable women than men due to the hard work and unattended childbirths they must endure. Tom does love Mary, but she turns him away when he finishes his time of indenture because she is carrying William’s child. In her heart, she would like to put aside her loveless marriage to follow Tom to the mountains of Virginia, but her sense of duty keeps her tied to William and the management of his farm. William leaves the farm often to dabble in politics, and eventually is killed when he is on the way to London to pursue business matters and his ship is caught in a violent storm..

Tell us about her family. Mary has her daughter, fruit of the rape, and several of William’s children, all of whom she loves dearly. She is responsible for raising these offspring and for the management of the plantation in her husband’s absence. After Tom leaves, William presents Mary with a family of slaves, a husband with wife and children. With so many mouths to feed, Mary works very hard to maintain her family.

Where is she from? Mary is from London, but her indenture brings her to the area that is now known as Somerset County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Does her hometown affect her behavior, thoughts and attitude? Mary is responsible for a great deal as the wife of a plantation owner, however, she is grateful for Sir Williams, whose wife Sallie adopted and legitimized her bastard child. Mary is also mindful of her luck in being transported rather than being left to rot in a
London gaol. While her marriage has elevated her to a similar status as that of her birth, the circumstances of life in the colony leave her with a great deal of responsibility, especially when her husband is killed. Mary lives in a world where women are secondary to men, but she is not unmindful of the good fortune that has followed her to the New World

What does she want out of life? Mary would like very much to be loved, but she is dedicated to her children and the land, which she discovers is very important to her as she grows from the abused daughter of privileged to the manager of a large plantation in the
New World
. Mary is not a woman to feel sorry for herself and she often counts her blessings as she tells her story.

What's her biggest secret? Mary loves Tom for his kindness, even when he leaves the farm when she says she cannot come with him. That said, she puts the love aside and does not pine for what might have been.

Did you write more than one story about her? No. I have told Mary’s story, or rather Mary has sent her story through me for others to enjoy. I believe Mary had an eventful life, but that she took the events as they came and was aware that she was blessed as those events shook her world.

How would she describe you? I believe Mary would see me as a sister, a woman who had similar experiences and who is grateful for the good things life has given her.

Is there anything else about your heroine that we need to know? Feel free to share. I think it is important for the reader to understand that Mary is a responsible person who understands what is important in life. I do not know how her story came to me, but I believe there is a channel that opens and allows me to know the women in my stories and to tell their stories. I believe that women have suffered greatly in the past and that their stories hold the seeds of love for the women of today who may live in misery – then read a book and see that there is a clear path for them to the future.

Please provide your website link.

You can find Terry L. White's books at, Fictionwise, Mobipocket, Kindle and by typing her name in the search engines. Look for Runaway Hearts, Mystick Moon, Ancient Memories, The Last Priestess, Mustard Seed, Crazy Quilt, Hang Your Head Over, Imagine, Hell or High Water and Chesapeake Harvest and more. Terry is also a bead artist and musician.

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