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Research for The Highwayman:
- Where the story took place--the middle Shenandoah Valley, on the Great Wagon Road, near colonial Staunton, Virginia.
- What is a wagonmaster? Much about this story I drew from the diary of real-life colonial wagonmaster William S. Alexander, who worked the Great Wagon Road [different link from above] from Charlotte, North Carolina, up to Philadelphia. Quite the haul in its day.
- Why oxen and not horses? And, the handling of colonial oxen, with this fun article about oxen at Colonial Williamsburg.
- What purpose did the colonial "ordinary" (inn) or tavern serve, and what's the difference?
- Waddell's Annals of Augusta County, Virginia--an invaluable resource for local history and flavor. I could write a dozen stories inspired by this alone!
- Why "The Highwayman"? The poem by Alfred Noyes, of course, first and foremost ... with a happier ending. :-)
- Why a whip, and not a firearm? Well ... because it's fun, of course. Combine that chapter in Farmer Boy where the mild-appearing teacher takes down a group of bully-boys, the fancy whip-work from The Man From Snowy River, then add all the stories about Zorro, and ... yeah. (Come to think of it, Tom Burlinson's character reminds me a lot of Sam!)
Research for Defending Truth:
- Where the battle took place--Kings Mountain National Military Park [NOTE: the battle took place in October 1780, not 1781 as the timestamp says in the September 2013 edition. That was a most unfortunate typo ... my fault, not the publisher's! It was corrected in the September 2015 edition.]
- Another account of the Battle of Kings Mountain
- Who were the Overmountain Men? (called over-the-mountain in their time)
- Overmountain leaders John Sevier and Isaac Shelby
- About Indian/settler relations--TNGenWeb Project Colonial Period Indian Land Cessions
- History of apple growing near the Overmountain settlements
- Anthony Allaire's account of the Battle of Kings Mountain (loyalist perspective)
- The Bledsoe family really lived!**
- What did Anthony Bledsoe do after the time of Defending Truth? (Another account by Bill Puryear.)
- Was there really a Loven Bledsoe? (Yes, but his name was properly spelled Loving.)
- Who was Joe Greer? (besides an ancestor of my children's ballet teacher ...)
- What kind of stories of Indian attack might Truth have grown up hearing?
Also!! Truth's little brother Thomas returns in his own story, The Cumberland Bride, coming October 1, 2018!