Thursday, January 19, 2017

Planting Historical Relics in a Historical Romance

Charleston antiques dealer Audrey Parrish, attends an auction preview at Wren Song plantation, hoping to find relics from her past. Instead, she snags her hand on a bedpost splintered by a musket ball and finds herself at the plantation at the exact moment the shot is fired.

A SPLINTER IN TIME came together over several years, influenced by biographies, memoires and diaries I read from the Civil War era. Reading about this time period enticed me to visit plantations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. It was like stepping back in time. Much of what I read about or learned when I visited the plantations is incorporated in the novel. Take the tea brick for example. It is not only an interesting piece of history, it also showed that Matt had connections – that he could get things – a piece of information not overlooked by Audrey, my time traveler.

Matt laid the newspaper on the table and handed Audrey the package.
“A gift?” she said, noting its heaviness and size. A book maybe?
“One you’ll be pleased with, I’m sure,” he said, smiling.
She placed it on the table, untied the string and spread open the paper wrapper. “Oh!” she said, staring at its contents with surprise—and dread. It was a black rectangle the size of a sheet of paper, an inch or more thick, stamped into squares like a giant Hershey bar.
“A tea brick! What a surprise,” she said, trying to sound excited. It would likely have come from China, and must have cost a small fortune, or a large favor. It was not unusual for tea to be exchanged as currency, even in normal times. Julianne would be elated to receive such a gift, and so would Audrey, except she knew that generally the binder used to hold the ground tea leaves together was either blood or manure.
“It’s a wonderful gift,” she said, nurturing his expectations.

Calvert’s Carbolic Tooth Paste came on the scene more than once, later playing a very important role in the story.

She used the commode, then went to the basin. Last night’s unused water still stood in it. She opened the door of the washstand and took out a white cotton washcloth, a bristle toothbrush and a toothpaste pot. The pot was made of white ceramic, about the size of a round box of face powder with a matching lid that stated in bold, black letters CALVERT’S CARBOLIC TOOTH PASTE.
She lifted the lid. The pot contained a powder that made a paste when mixed with water. Typical ingredients were soap, chalk and salt. She’d bought pots for her shop with powder still in them, but she had no idea how nasty the mixture tasted until yesterday morning when Tess had handed her the toothbrush already loaded. The texture was gritty, and she had gagged on the taste. She would ask Tess if there was any soda in the house.

Both the tea brick and the toothpaste pot were introduced into the story with a role to play. And because my time travler was also an antiques dealer, her internal dialogue could describe these articles in an unobtrusive way.

I very much enjoyed writing this novel. I hope you will enjoy reading it as well.

Linda Shelby, A Splinter in Time

Available on Amazon and all major online book retailers.

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