Today I wanted to share photos of the best part of being an author….research. I was fortunate enough to travel to England several years ago for background for my latest book, The Last Heiress. The story which starts in Manchester and continues in Wilmington, NC features a pair of identical twins. During the American Civil the English textile industry nearly ground to a halt due to the blockade of southern ports. No export of cotton….no raw materials to for the mills. My British twin, Amanda Dunn, is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. After the blockade of southern ports threatens to destroy the family business, Amanda’s father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton broker, lives in Wilmington. Blockade runners, such as those owned by Abigail’s husband, would leave the southern coast of the United States bound for the ports of Liverpool or Swansea, and then the mills of Manchester.
Amanda plans a long overdue reunion with her twin, conduct business for her dad, and hurry back to England. Fate has other plans for our heiress. Amanda butts heads at every turn with her brother-in-law, a slave-owner, in a town not used to dealing with businesswomen. When she falls in love with a local shopkeeper, a man who refuses to fight for the Confederacy, class distinctions, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance.
In Portsmouth harbour
My trip to England allowed me to reconnect with an old friend, Caroylne Way,
Rowing on Lake Windemere in the Lake District
who lives in Gosport (near Portsmouth in southern Hampshire.) Carolyne’s great grandfather owned a mine which supplied coal for the garment mills during the nineteenth century. I was able to use real events which took place at his mine in my story. Of course as you can see from my pictures, I had plenty of time to see merry ole England too.
Research also took me not less than a half-dozen times to the beautiful city of Wilmington, NC on the Cape Fear River. Lucky for me, the riverfront area, some of downtown, along with Fort Fisher on the peninsula looks like it did 150 years ago.
Fort Fisher was the final definitive battle of the Civil War, fought on both land and sea.
Ahhh, research. For some authors, the topic draws beads of sweat to the brow. But if a writer is able to pack a bag, book a flight and travel, then history…and the story can truly come alive.
Hope you enjoy these pics from England
and Scotland. And I hope you’ll look for The Last Heiress, a book from Harvest House Publishers which was a pleasure to write!! Have a great week, readers….Mary
London Eye, on the Thames River
restored English village
On the Solent near their house
Old Towne York
Stonehenge, about an hour away
Big Ben, London