Deep Research (Even for My Short Fiction)
Sometimes, I feel like Winston Smith watching out for the P.C. Thought Police. If you read my science fiction novel Life in 2050, you’ll see my humble homage to Orwell. In fact, most of my historical and other fiction often tells the “truth” about issues and events in history. This rubs some readers the worong way, but others actually look up my “facts” to see for themselves. As a former college professor and Caltech supervisor, I am very happy they do this!
All six of my mysteries in the popular Portia of the Pacific series, starring the first female appointed to the California Bar, Clara Shortridge Foltz, Esq., and her family, are filled with facts about how Chinese, Blacks, and Women (it’s Women’s History Month, so a shout out to those folks) were actually mistreated (sorry, Governor DeSantis, if you believe otherwise).
Those who are fans of my work understand me and my research. I am continuing in that method with my new collection of short fiction starring Eleanor Vance of the famous psychological horror novel by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House.
I am actually using a suggestion by Lillian Haugland of Norway. The second story in my collection will be:
It will be set in the Nineteenth Century, New York City. Eleanor and Willow Rubin, the Jewish young lady who lived on a commune for two years before working at Hearst Castle in 1974, in my first story, “Eleanor, Willow, and Tania,” will become “ghost hunters” for the great but haunted mansions of the elite and wealthy on Fifth Avenue, after the Civil War, when Spiritualism was in its heyday. In fact, Mary Todd Lincoln was a firm “believer” in it and hired a medium to speak to her dead son.
My fictional character, Eleanor Vance, from The Haunting of Hill House, will have a dream wherein she communicates with Emanuel Swedenborg. My setting is in New York, in the Nineteenth Century, 1868, at the birthplace of the Spiritualism Movement in the United States. Eleanor’s lover and Spiritualist sidekick, Willow Rubin, will also be a main protagonist in the story. Swedenborg believed the “Second Coming of Jesus” already happened in the Eighteenth Century. He could also communicate with these spirits of the past, present, and future. There are still religions (and communes) around the world based on his “teachings.”
Other interesting research I’m using in this story:
There was a religious movement in the Eighteenth Century, most notably in Virginia, to free slaves. Many Baptists and Quakers (my relatives were these “Friends” and later “Baptists”) released slaves, and over 10,000 were given their freedom in the Eighteenth Century. Of course, this was only 10% of the total number of slaves owned. It was a very profitable way to do farm work!
Called “manumissions,” they were accomplished by individual plantation owners, like Robert Carter III, who later became affiliated with an Episcopal Priest who practiced the tenets of Emanuel Swedenborg. Even though his income shrank, Robert, to his credit, held to his religious beliefs.
Later, however, after Robert died, his only son, George, bought more slaves and returned to the practice of slavery, which led to the Civil War in the middle of the following century.
Again, this will be information for my two “ghost hunters,” Eleanor Vance and Willow Rubin in 1868 New York City. It is their connection with the wealthy New York Spiritualists, who are also sympathetic to Swedenborg’s teachings.
Thanks to Lillian, I have a goal to shoot for in my next story. Please fill-out the form
to win a free copy and even become a featured character in a story you suggest!
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Keep reading and stay healthy!
San Diego, CA