No More Books About Slavery

I’ve just finished my last books about slaves and slavery. Elysium, Book IV of the Plantation Series is now out, and in a few days, Orchid Island will be available too. And that’s it for me. I’ve written all I can about the injustice of racism and slavery.

In fact, Orchid Island was a step away in itself. I had been thinking and reading about happiness, and remembered Abraham Lincoln’s remark about most people being about as happy as they make up their minds to be.  And as I had one more book in me about slaves, I asked myself whether – and how – slaves could have been happy. I don’t mean odd moments of happiness or joy – I’m sure those moments came to them, too. But every-day, pretty pleased with the world happiness? What would that look like for a slave?

And that’s when Zeb and Livy wiggled into my head. They’re both slaves working the fields on a cane plantation. Zeb is more than cheerful – he is genuinely glad to be alive and sees no point on dwelling on the unpleasant fact of being enslaved since there is nothing to be done about it. Livy, on the other hand, is brittle with rage and frustration and lives for the day she can break free. Of course two such opposite personalities are drawn to each other – this is fiction, after all.

So I ended up with Orchid Island, a novel about slaves, not about slavery. The whites in the book are hardly more than tertiary characters, though Livy’s desire for freedom certainly circles back to the whites who control her and Zeb’s lives.

I don’t think the distinction between writing about slaves and about slavery is too fine. What I wanted to think about was how slaves had full, rich lives of integrity, dignity, hope and purpose regardless of being enslaved persons. Life is too big, too rich, to define a character like Zeb so that he is “only” a slave.




About glcraig

Gretchen Craig’s lush, sweeping tales deliver edgy, compelling characters who test the boundaries of integrity, strength, and love. Told with sensitivity, the novels realistically portray the raw suffering of people in times of great upheaval. Gretchen was born and raised in Florida. She’s lived in climates and terrain as diverse as the white beaches of the Gulf Coast, the rocky shores of Maine, and the dusty plains of Texas. Her awareness of place imbues every page with the smell of the bayous of Louisiana, the taste of gumbo in New Orleans, or the grit of a desert storm. Rich in compelling characters and historical detail, Always and Forever is a sweeping saga of Josie and Cleo, mistress and slave. Amid Cajuns and Creoles, the bonds between these two remarkable women are tested by prejudice, tragedy, and passion for one extraordinary man. Gretchen’s first novel won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Mainstream with Romantic Elements and was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Historical Novel Society reviews. Ever My Love, winner of the Booksellers Best Award from the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, continues the story of Cleo and Josie’s families, of their struggle for principle, justice, and love in a world where the underpinnings of the plantation culture are crumbling. Crimson Sky, inspired by the pueblos, mountains, and deserts of New Mexico, evokes the lives of people facing neighboring marauders and drought. Now the march of Spanish Conquistadors up the Rio Grande threatens their homeland, their culture, and their entire belief system.
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2 Responses to No More Books About Slavery

  1. Nancy Wetzel says:

    I can’t find Orchid Island anywhere…was the name of the book changed?

    • glcraig says:

      Hi, Nancy. Yes, the title did get changed. I really liked Orchid Island, but now it’s Livy. You can find it in print or digital on Amazon.

      I didn’t want to write about slavery anymore, but the new series I’ve started (1720s Louisiana) does have a few slaves as minor characters. Can’t get away from slavery if you write about that time and place.

      I hope you enjoy Livy.

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