William Lewen’s father might be a respected doctor on the island of Barbados, but he’s controlled her life from the beginning. The youngest of five daughters, her father was so angry she wasn’t a son, he gave her a boy’s name anyway. Now that Lew’s older sisters have married, and her mother passed, she’s forbidden from marrying in order to take care of her father. But trouble at home is only an echo of the rumored danger that lurks off island shores.
The son of a wealthy sugar plantation owner, James’ future is set, if he can ignore the tugging in his heart which points to a life of full-time ministry. With the threat of pirate attacks on the horizon, James must focus on protecting the family business. But when he meets a beautiful girl named Lew, he knows life is about to change forever. If they can fend off deadly marauders, do they have a hope of ever being together?
Sound like an interesting historical romance? I’d love for it to be, someday, but for now it’s the true story of my great-great-grandparents.
*spoiler alert* James’ brother lost the entire sugar plantation in a card game, and James became a minister. To escape Lew’s father, they ran away together to the opposite side of Barbados and eloped. I may have added the pirates… 😉 (The true story is a good one hundred years after the decline of Caribbean pirates, for you historical nerds.)
Holidays in my family are spent sitting around the dinner table for hours, listening to the stories of who we are and where we’ve come from. The girl named William Lewen has always been one of my favorites.
In writing, it’s important to know my characters’ backstories. What was their greatest hurt? What was the best night of their life? These types of questions help me figure out the kind of person life has shaped them into and why they react the way they do in certain situations.
In real life, it’s just as important to understand our own backstories, whether the great-great-grandparents, or the life-altering thing that happened in second grade. As we enter the holiday season, let’s spend some time asking questions and listening to family history. Each of us has a backstory that’s influenced us in ways we may or may not realize.
Not all family members are eager to talk about the past, and not all family stories are exciting or glamorous. Sometimes there’s a little more of the controlling father and dwindled inheritance, than bravely defending island shores against pirates. But it’s still a part of the backstory that’s shaped each of us.
As we share this season’s holidays with family and friends, I hope we’re able to reflect on roads we’ve traveled that have brought us to this point. The high road, the narrow road, and the one lined with daisies and bumble bees. The broken road, the dark road, the one that seemed go uphill forever.
One more important thing to understand about fiction—backstory is what happened before the book starts. A character’s backstory is critical, but I’m not supposed to dump all of it in first chapter. That’s boring. The story must move forward, and at a good pace. The same is true for all of us. We have the privilege of learning from experience, but we must keep the story moving forward!
Do you have a favorite family story? I’d love to hear about in the comments.
By day, Kelly D. Scott is buried in Excel spreadsheets, which is why she must write.
She graduated from Texas A&M University with a BBA in Accounting and, almost ten years later, she completed her MS in Accounting at UT Dallas. She wrote her first manuscript in 2017 when a photo in People magazine sparked an idea. 130,000 words later, that book is parked safely under her bed.
Kelly resides in the Dallas area with her illustrator husband (whom she met on Eharmony) and her two boys. She has lived in Texas all of her life, except for two and a half years when she was a missionary in China and Thailand. Oh, and she did spend a summer as a missionary in Australia where she learned how to do the Tim Tam slam. When Kelly isn’t writing or lost in Excel, she enjoys reading, cooking, baking, watching football, and spending time with her family. She is a member of ACFW.