Monday, August 24, 2015

Highland Harry Wallace, a former highland rogue

For years I've been waiting for the right characters and moment that would bring the story of my paternal grandfather's (many times removed) family in the early 19th century to fictional life. One day two years ago, the stars aligned and I began to write.
Two characters sprang full blown into my imaginative view. Highland Harry Wallace, a former highland rogue, and nineteen-year-old tavern girl Maggie Fowler were the perfect couple to become step-parents to a brood of seven children ranging in ages from seventeen to three. Then Precious the Pig came into my mind's eye. What better companion for the youngest child who hadn't spoken since the death of her mother and what an unusual pet to sleep each night in the cabin with step-parents and children.

Turning Harry into the respected and respectable family man would be no easy difficult as it would be to have a former tavern girl accepted by the straight-laced women of their rural New Brunswick community. But, then, that's the delightful challenge of fictionalizing one's family.
In actual fact, my grandfather many times removed wasn't murdered for his mills but died at age 50 of pneumonia, leaving his wife with nine children to raise. This she did as well as running the family milling business. The eldest, James, who appears as a belligerent teenager in "Highland Harry" became a clergyman and respected botanist. In later years he became the first professor of natural science at prestigious Queen's University. His daughter was the first woman to receive a university degree in science in Canada.

I'm hoping to write a series of books on the children and have one currently in the works about Brodie, Highland Harry's best friend who joins their family. But his partner in love and life has not yet fully revealed herself. Perhaps I should work on a short biography of Precious the Pig? :)


Gail MacMillan
Highland Harry

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