Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Weds check-in for ROW80 . . .

Just going to jump right in with a quick update. Like a wildabeest, its hoary, hairy beard swaying in the wind as it grazes, one eye out for predators, I hover over my keyboard, balancing writing with all else that intervenes. Some days, I make progress. Less so, this week.

William Buckley (Source: Wikipedia)
Writing: Still working on editing Section 2 of Years of Stone but I discovered some new research on Cascades Female Factory (a women's prison in Van Diemen's Land).

I found a painting of William Buckley in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Buckley, who actually worked as a gatekeeper for the nursery at Cascades, befriends one of my characters. Unusually tall, well over six feet, somewhat ungainly, and pock-marked, Buckley lived with aboriginals from 1803 to 1835. I'll let Buckley explain his history as he talks to Deidre about his life before working at Cascades . . .

“’Twas before I came to Van Diemen’s Land. The high court sent me to the mainland first. I guess you’d call me an absconder, for I didn’t stay there long. Those days was different. Never enough to eat.”

Buckley kept talking like a wagon wheel that once began to roll, couldn’t stop. “I ran away from Camp Phillip with a couple of my mates. I went one way; they went another. I never saw them again. I nearly starved out in the bush, but I managed. Found a spear and that was the ticket. Later I learned it was a marker for a grave. The Watourong saw that spear and thought I was the spirit of the one who’d passed. Those were good years . . .  

In writing about Buckley and the Cascades Women's Factory, my sense of the people and how they interacted is deepening, but sometimes only a phrase guides me. For example, Lucy Frost's very helpful Abandoned Women, describes Ann Hutchinson, the matron at Cascades, as "petulant" in responding to a government inquiry about the numbers of infant deaths there as well as the actual physical layout of the nursery. All useful stuff. And a prisoner who could read could find work at the nursery. What drives me forward is trying to imagine what this prison was really like. Ah, the writer's quest for verisimilitude!

Other goals. Does it count that I did my taxes which required meticulous accounting of book sales, starting and ending inventory, those books given away for promotion, for gifts, and other various expenses? Done! Getting ready for book club on The Mermaid Quilt at the end of the month. Reviewing Smashwords for its conversion requirements. Still don't know if I need another ISBN. Steady progress on reading craft and on keeping the travel blog updated (latest entry tonight re the wildabeest). Does anyone else get seduced into downloading Kindle books to read? No time! But I got to quilt tonight and my desk is ready for writing in the morning.

May your week go well.