AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS discussion

The Forgiving Kind
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Introduction to THE FORGIVING KIND

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message 1: by Donna (new)

Donna Everhart (donnaeverhart) Good morning, everyone!

Yes, I've been up and at it (again!) for a while, slurping coffee, working on my latest project, and thinking about today's topic, which I'm excited to discuss!

Today we're going to talk about my new book which goes on sale January 29, 2019. This week I've talked about research, and how I love to blend in historic facts with my southern fiction coming of age stories. It's no different in THE FORGIVING KIND.

The story takes place in 1955. The setting is eastern North Carolina, Jones County to be exact, which falls into the area we North Carolinians like to call Down East. I created a fictional little town called Flatland. The name says it all for the terrain in this area.

My narrator is twelve year old Sonny Creech. She and her family experience the tragic loss of her Daddy (not a spoiler, this is on the flap copy) and in order to save their cotton farm, her Mama agrees to financial help from their rich, reclusive neighbor, Frank Fowler. Sonny has misgivings about this, and her best friend Daniel keeps telling her he has ulterior motives. After Frank Fowler enters the picture, everything begins to go downhill from there.

For this book, I did a LOT of research on cotton farming. By the time I was finished, I felt like I could have grown it myself. What was fascinating was learning how much an acre yields, how they weighed the sacks, and that there were actually different sized sacks because children worked in the fields right along with the adults. You might have a six foot, or a nine foot.

These sacks were weighed by hooking the bags onto a scale and adding a "pea" of either four pounds or one pound for accuracy. The cotton was then dumped into wood-sided wagons and the person weighing it kept adding it up until it held at least twelve-hundred pounds, the weight required before going to a gin.

Once the wagon held enough, kids would often climb into the back and ride to the gin tucked down in the fluff. Because it's usually October when cotton is picked, this is a comfortable ride on the way there, but a cold one on the way back.

At the gin, wagons lined up and waited their turn. When it came, the cotton was literally vacuumed out of the back of the wagon with a huge suction hose. It was then compacted into the appropriate sized bale in something called a press box. This is a government regulated rule in order to transport by train.

Today, if you have live in an area that grows cotton, like I do, you'll see big square bales sitting in fields, already weighed and formed to transport by train.

There are other time relevant historic facts in the story. The Civil Rights Movement was only a year old, and there are a few spots in the story that deal with deep rooted racism and bigotry.

From my blog posts on First Sentence Fridays, I found out the following about this time period in the U.S.:

1955 is when the United States was settling into a post-war era, and consumers were starting to spend money. While researching for the story, I read "consumerism took off." I suppose after The Great Depression, two world wars, and the Korean war, America was ready to spend. In 1955, the first McDonald's opened up, and Coca-Cola started selling in cans. Seven out of nine households had cars, and black and white TV's cost about a hundred dollars. The average yearly wage was approximately four thousand dollars and the minimum wage, a dollar an hour.

Nothing gives you a better picture of life "back then" than to look at styles, from clothing, to furniture, to appliances and cars, as well as the cost of every day items. During this time, our culture, and the American way of life began to bloom.

But for Sonny Creech and her family, what began to bloom was trouble.

Follow my First Sentence Fridays for THE FORGIVING KIND here:

www.donnaeverhart.com


message 2: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Donna,
For a northerner like me, your book sounds very interesting and educational...learning about growing cotton very different than my growing up in wheat and cattle country. I have to say, though, that it is hard for me to accept 1955 as historical when I can remember it well. I guess that tells you how old I am! LOL


message 3: by Stella (new) - added it

Stella McKissack (stellamckissack) | 38 comments My daughter lives in eastern North Carolina and j love visiting her, such a beautiful part of the country. I can envision all this through your words and having been to the area.


message 4: by Donna (new)

Donna Everhart (donnaeverhart) Beverly wrote: "Donna,
For a northerner like me, your book sounds very interesting and educational...learning about growing cotton very different than my growing up in wheat and cattle country. I have to say, tho..."


My mother is from Maine and has lived down here for about 60 years. I remember her telling us (me, my brother) about her first time down here, and eating grits. That seems to be the most shocking thing for northerners for some reason, that and collards. Maybe hushpuppies too.

I'm with you Beverly, I was born in 1958, so I feel the same way when I hear the 60s referred to as historical. I pronounce we're not old, we're part of a living history. :)


message 5: by Donna (new)

Donna Everhart (donnaeverhart) Stella wrote: "My daughter lives in eastern North Carolina and j love visiting her, such a beautiful part of the country. I can envision all this through your words and having been to the area."

It is beautiful there, wide open spaces and fields filled with cotton, tobacco, soybean or corn. I love looking at old tobacco barns, old houses, and people's yards, etc. The thing with farms that I've noticed, properties are so well kept. Fenced, grass mowed, fields plowed and maintained. I love it.


message 6: by Donna (new)

Donna Everhart (donnaeverhart) Beverly wrote: "Donna,
For a northerner like me, your book sounds very interesting and educational...learning about growing cotton very different than my growing up in wheat and cattle country. I have to say, tho..."


Beverly, I wasn't sure how to contact you other than here, but you won a copy of THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET. Email me your address and I'll send it to you. deverhart2@nc.rr.com Congrats!


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