Author Topic: Seychelles (untitled) - historical fiction. ***NEW***  (Read 888 times)

Offline MsGretaGreen

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Seychelles (untitled) - historical fiction. ***NEW***
« on: February 01, 2019, 11:25:03 AM »
Please see revised pages below....
“Bla-Ros, White-Pink”

1829, La Digue, Seychelles

    As a child, Adine had collected enough bits and pieces of her parent’s romance to assemble a pretty collage, but it wasn’t until she neared sixteen that her flat picture became three-dimensional. It took a life-changing event to trigger a mature consideration of lives and perspectives other than her own.

* * *

    When Jean-Baptiste first fell ill, his wife Camille assumed that his current malady was symptomatic of his arrhythmic heart, and prescribed bedrest and abstention from alcohol. She tasked herself with cooking a fish broth, rich in garlic and onions, and called upon their daughter Adine to watch him in her absence.
    Adine sat herself by her sleeping father’s side and observed how his brow glistened and his body shuddered as if caught in the grips of a nightmare. She reached for his shoulder, hesitated, and then shook him gently.
    “Papa?”
    He did not stir.
    Jean-Baptiste was fifty-four, seventeen years older than Adine’s mother Camille. Until this quiet moment, Adine had reflected little on her parent’s age difference. Now, she scrutinized the deep wrinkles lining her father’s forehead and the unhealthy gray pallor of his skin, mottled pink with fever. She scanned his thinning hairline and realized his hair was white, no longer blonde. How did I miss this change?
    “Adine,” he mumbled slack-lipped, his cheek pressed into a pillow. “Water.”
    She raised a bedside gourd to his mouth and liquid dribbled down his jowls. He breathed heavily, his eyes squeezed tight.
    “Would you like me to read?” she asked.
    Jean-Baptiste grunted, which Adine interpreted for yes, and she read from the Bible.
    By nightfall his condition worsened, and Camille took over as the nursemaid and doctor. Adine’s eyelids drooped, but she could not sleep. She shadowed Camille’s movements and observed how her mother cared for her father with both tenderness and clinical detachment, separating her feelings of wife from those of healer.
    Camille searched relentlessly for a remedy, opening her medicinal cabinet and rifling through her pantry of dried herbs as if a missed cure might materialize. After her fifth failed foray, she and Adine returned empty-handed to Jean-Baptiste’s bedside. His bluish foot poked out from underneath a thinning wool blanket, and Camille blanched at the sight. She pinched his toes, as if this trick might bring color back to his body, and the cold hue did not indicate a fading life force.
    She called his name, but he did not wake. She shook his body and called again, her voice cracking, but he had slipped into a deep slumber. Adine’s lower lip trembled.
Herbal concoctions were brewing over a fire. Wasted efforts, thought Adine before rushing to administer a cold compress to her father’s brow. She suppressed her panic through action until Camille grabbed her upper arm with firmness and said, “No. It is enough.”
    Then, Camille collapsed by her husband, with his limp hand in hers. Adine watched her vital mother massage the rough pads of her father’s palms and felt a warm tear trace the side of her face. She kneeled by her mother where they remained for hours, listening to his labored inhales and erratic exhales and holding their breath.
    Young Adine had never watched a person die, and she feared bearing witness to her father’s demise, but the horror was impossible to flee. When Jean-Baptiste’s eyes rolled backward exposing the whites, Adine’s eyes bulged. When he convulsed with spasms, she shook with sobs. When an eerie croak escaped from his lips, it queued a moan from hers, and when his chest sunk, her heart broke.
    Jean-Baptiste Duplessis, the fabled French pirate, champion husband, and devoted father, was alive no more.

* * *

    Adine’s mother Camille was a free woman of mixed African and European heritage, who came from a long line of Central African healers. Adine never met her great grandmother Dia on her mother’s side, but knew she was the first ancestor to set foot on the Seychelles, a largely uninhabited island chain with no indigenous population. According to Camille, Dia had been stolen from her village, raped by a Dutch slaver, and imprisoned in a dank shipping hull destined for the Arab slave markets, when a storm saved her life. Her survival of the shipwreck was a miracle, but she did not escape unscathed from the legacy of her white captors. By the time that Dia and a handful of fellow Africans had washed up on the shore of La Digue Island, she was pregnant with her oppressor’s child. This marked the beginning of their family’s cloudy lineage.
    The survivors first hid in the tangled hillside of Belle Vue, the highest peak on La Digue, but eventually established their home by the water in a place now known as La Passe. With no material possessions, these men and women of the woods had brought what their memory could carry - herbalism, shamanic drumming, and the practice of gris-gris.
    Camille inherited her Grandmother Dia’s magical prowess and learned the art of gris-gris, such as how to tell fortunes, converse with the dead, and cast spells with the aid of charms and amulets. In the immediate aftermath of Jean-Baptiste’s death, Camille sought guidance through the customs of her African ancestors. Dia had taught her to take critical care between death and burial, the brief period when a sorcerer known as a Ti Albert could steal the body and turn it into a dandotia - a zombie. For the safety of Jean-Baptiste’s soul, Camille and Adine kept vigil by his corpse throughout the night and planned to bury him within the day. This gave scant time to prepare his funeral, but did not dampen attendance.
    Mother, Daughter, and a large gathering of admirers laid Jean-Baptiste to rest in a sturdy coffin of takamaka wood and buried him at sunset in the island’s makeshift cemetery. Camille deferred to her husband’s Catholic faith with the erection of a cross, but she insisted on a second adornment. At the head of his grave and facing the setting sun, Camille placed the nautical figurehead from Jean-Baptiste’s beloved ship, “L’Eve de Poison.” It featured a woman carved from ebony wood, in the imagined likeness of biblical Eve. Since Jean-Baptiste had survived over thirty years at sea with this figurehead placating the gods and ensuring his safe voyage, Camille believed there was no better guide for his journey to the underworld. With this unorthodox tomb marker, Camille bade farewell to her husband under the protection of a devoted doppelgänger, insuring that the legend of their love would continue beyond death.

* * *
 
    Days after the burial, Delphin Rousseau received news of Jean-Baptiste’s passing. With shaky hands he set aside Camille’s note and made swift plans to visit La Digue. He hadn’t left Mahe to see the Duplessis in over a decade, absorbed by his work and family life to the exclusion of old friends.
    Twenty-seven years ago the French Revolutionary Wars were ending, and the Seychelles were a haven between battles. Rousseau was a privateersman and Jean-Baptiste an infamous corsair. They both returned with regularity to favored La Digue where they forged a friendship built on their mutual love for the island. Jean-Baptiste was obsessed with the land like an insatiable lover. He would swagger and taunt Rousseau’s inferior adulation with audacious declarations - “La Digue is mine. My personal playground. My paradise. My lady.” It was this cocky, self-assurance that both rankled Rousseau and won his admiration.
    When Camille wove into their story, she captivated both men, but Jean-Baptiste claimed her heart. Their connection was instantaneous and all-consuming, and in the shadow of such passionate intensity, Rousseau’s attraction was smothered cold. Jean-Baptiste possessed a brazen bravery foreign to Rousseau. Even though the pirate lived a life without rules, his nonconformity to societal expectations had still surprised his cohorts. It wasn’t Jean-Baptiste’s open pursuit of Camille, a woman of color, that shocked La Digue’s small population, but rather his determination to make her his wife.
    Although Rousseau and Jean-Baptiste were of like minds, the influences of Rousseau’s bourgeois childhood in France lingered. He cared too much what others thought. His sensitivity to prejudice made him an occasional conformer, careful how he fought with the ignorant, selective about his inner circle, and hesitant to share his private life in ways that might lead to ostracism. When Rousseau moved to Mahe, he joined a wealthy class of plantation owners, known as les Grands Blancs. Within this new social group, he tried to emulate Jean-Baptiste in subtle ways, but could never overcome a certain cowardice.
    Rousseau too had fallen in love with an African woman and was part of a second generation of European men who quietly established a mixed-race family. He claimed parentage of his offspring, two curly-haired, mischievous little boys, by bestowing his name and guaranteeing their inheritance. But unlike Jean-Baptiste, his respected mentor in life, Rousseau did not have the courage to marry or flaunt his love outside a tight circle of friends. Without an explanation for his hypocrisies Rousseau had avoided visiting the people he most respected. Jean-Baptiste’s death sharpened his regret and spurred him to make amends. He regretted his failures as an absent friend, as a man beholden to a discriminatory society he disagreed with, and as a person who wished to live in a colorblind world without believing in its possibility.
    Camille was a gifted healer whose European husband had never defined her status, but Rousseau wondered if others would view Adine through the same filter. Without her father’s introductions, he imagined her options limited. The truth of his worries were racial, because Adine straddled two divergent pools of DNA, each representative of separate societal spheres and opportunity. What he doubted was Camille’s ability to navigate between both worlds, especially one that might exclude her, and he planned to step in as her daughter’s liaison. His coming trip to La Digue was more than a show of sympathy; it was a second chance at redemption. If he couldn’t be the hero in his own life, perhaps he could be the hero for another?
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 05:26:42 AM by MsGretaGreen »

Offline rivergirl

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Re: Seychelles (untitled) - historical fiction
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2019, 02:44:15 PM »
“Bla-Ros, White-Pink”

1829, La Digue, Seychelles

    As a child, Adine had collected enough bits and pieces of her parent’s romance to assemble a pretty collage, but it wasn’t until she neared sixteen that her flat picture became three-dimensional. It took a life-changing event to trigger a mature consideration of lives and perspectives other than her own.Love the first sentence. This last sentence doesn't entirely make sense to me and i'm having to re-read a few times. Doesn't a life-changing event trigger an understanding rather than a consideration? Throw in lives and perspectives and my brain gets scrambled.

* * *

    When Jean-Baptiste first fell ill, his wife Camille assumed that his current malady was symptomatic of his arrhythmic heart, and prescribed bedrest and abstention from alcohol. She tasked herself with cooking a fish broth, rich in garlic and onions, and called upon their daughter Adine to watch him in her absence.
    Adine sat herself by her sleeping father’s side and observed how his brow glistened and his body shuddered as if caught in the grips of a nightmare. She reached for his shoulder, hesitated, and then shook him gently.
    “Papa?”
    He did not stir.
    Jean-Baptiste was fifty-four, seventeen years older than Adine’s mother Camille. Until this quiet moment, Adine hadhad makes most sentences sound worse reflected little on her parent’s age difference. Now, she scrutinized the deep wrinkles lining her father’s forehead and the unhealthy gray pallor of his skin, the gray pallor automatically tells us unhealthy mottled pink with fever. Ok, you can't have a pallor and a flush at the same time. pick one. She scanned his thinning hairline and realized his hair was white, no longer blonde. How did I miss this change? I find this hard to believe. I'd rather her marvel over the change rather than the sudden surprise. It's vital this is wholly believable. Your high descriptions are wonderful. I also love that i'm in Adel's head right away
    “Adine,” he mumbled slack-lipped, his cheek pressed into a pillow. “Water.”
    She raised a bedside gourd to his mouth and liquid dribbled down his jowls. He breathed heavily, his eyes squeezed tight. 'He breathed heavily' is a tad awkward to me. How about: his respirations were labored, or Adine watched his abdomen move up and down as he struggled for breath.
    “Would you like me to read?” she asked.
    Jean-Baptiste grunted, which Adine interpreted for yes, and she read from the Bible.
    By nightfall his condition worsened, and Camille took over as the nursemaid and doctor. Adine’s eyelids drooped, this is a perspective problem (to me). I'm no longer in Adele's head but viewing her from outside as I can now see her eyelids. As the author you need to be consistent with where you want your reader to live--as an outside observer or in the head of the MC. My opinion only but she could not sleep. She shadowed Camille’s movements and observed how her mother cared for her father with both tenderness and clinical detachment, separating her feelings of wife from those of healer. I'm wondering why she's not leaving. I imagine her exhausted and wanting to return to her own room. This might warrant a brief explanation. Maybe she though his death was imminent?
    Camille searched relentlessly for a remedy, opening her medicinal cabinet and rifling through her pantry of dried herbs as if a missed cure might materialize. After her fifth failed foray, she and Adine returned empty-handed to Jean-Baptiste’s bedside. You never mentioned Adele leaving. Only that she's falling asleep. this catches me a bit by surprise that she's now returning. HisA(his blue foot suggests its always blue) bluish foot poked out from underneath a thinning wool blanket, and Camille blanched at the sight. She pinched his toes, as if this trick might bring color back to his body, and the cold hue did not indicate a fading life force.
    She called his name, (show us don't tell us about calling his name) but he did not wake. She shook his body and called again,(show don't tell) her voice cracking, but he had slipped into a deep slumber. Adine’s lower lip trembled.
Herbal concoctions were brewing over a fire. Wasted efforts, thought Adine before rushing to administer a cold compress to her father’s brow. She suppressed her panic through action by doting over her father until Camille grabbed her upper arm with firmness firmly and said, “No. It is enough.”
    Then, Camille collapsed by her husband, with his limp hand in hers. She's the strong one, right? I'm having trouble visualizing her going suddenly limp. I see her as more stoic Adine watched her vital mother  :no: don't get vital mother, massage the rough pads of her father’s palms and felt a warm tear trace the side of her face. (I actually like that she's feeling the tear, but above I'm outside her again as her lip trembles.)She kneeled by her mother where they remained for hours, listening to his labored inhales and erratic exhales and holding their breath. Just say they listened to his labored breathing for hours. get too fancy and you pull your reader out of the story. Maybe: Adele listened to the coarse sounds coming from her father's throat. Her mother called it a death rattle....
    Young Adine had never watched a person die, and she feared bearing witness to her father’s demise, but the horror was impossible to flee.This is an example of over-writing IMO. Simple is usually better. Adina felt in her bones that her father's end was near, and she was filled with grief blah blah blah When Jean-Baptiste’s eyes rolled backward exposing the whites, Adine’s eyes bulged.bad imagery and i'm yanked out of her head again When he convulsed with spasms, she shook with sobs. When an eerie croak escaped from his lips, it queued a moan from hers, and when his chest sunk, her heart broke.
    Jean-Baptiste Duplessis, the fabled French pirate, champion husband, and devoted father, was alive no more.

* * *

    Adine’s mother Camille was a free woman of mixed African and European heritage, who came from a long line of Central African healers. Adine never met her great grandmother Dia on her mother’s side, but knew she was the first ancestor to set foot on the Seychelles, a largely uninhabited island chain with no indigenous population. According to Camille, Dia had been stolen from her village, raped by a Dutch slaver, and imprisoned in a dank shipping hull destined for the Arab slave markets, when a storm saved her life. Lots of long sentences in here. Mix short and long. Her survival of the shipwreck was a miracle, but she did not escape unscathed from the legacy of her white captors. By the time that Dia and a handful of fellow Africans had washed up on the shore of La Digue Island, she was pregnant with her oppressor’s rapist's child. This marked the beginning of their family’s cloudy lineage.
    The survivors first hid in the tangled hillside of Belle Vue, the highest peak on La Digue, but eventually established their home by the water in a place now known as La Passe. With no material possessions, these men and women of the woods had brought only what their memory could carry - herbalism, shamanic drumming, and the practice of gris-gris. Nice color and descriptions in here. I like that you saved this narrative after introducing your MC.
    Camille inherited her Grandmother Dia’s magical prowess and learned the art of gris-gris, such as how to tell fortunes, converse with the dead, and casting spells with the aid of charms and amulets. In the immediate aftermath of Jean-Baptiste’s death, Camille sought guidance through the customs of her African ancestors. Dia had taught her to take critical care between death and burial, the brief period when a sorcerer known as a Ti Albert could steal the body and turn it into a dandotia - a zombie. For the safety of Jean-Baptiste’s soul, Camille and Adine kept vigil by his corpse throughout the night and planned to bury him within the day. This gave scant time to prepare his funeral, but did not dampen attendance.
    Mother, Daughter, and a large gathering of admirers laid Jean-Baptiste to rest in a sturdy coffin of takamaka wood and buried him at sunset in the island’s makeshift cemetery. Camille deferred to her husband’s Catholic faith with the erection of a cross, but she insisted on a second adornment. At the head of his grave and facing the setting sun, Camille placed the nautical figurehead from Jean-Baptiste’s beloved ship, “L’Eve de Poison.”ship names should be in italics It featured a woman carved from ebony wood, in the imagined likeness of biblical Eve. Since Jean-Baptiste had survived over thirty years at sea with this figurehead placating the gods and ensuring his safe voyage, Camille believed there was no better guide for his journey to the underworld. With this unorthodox tomb marker, Camille bade farewell to her husband under the protection of a devoted doppelgänger, insuring that the legend of their love would continue beyond death. Again, mix long and short sentences and see how much better this will sound. also we've completely lost the MC in this section. I no longer know who to root for. I'm starting to this is third person POV, right?

* * *
 
    Days after the burial, Delphin Rousseau received news of Jean-Baptiste’s passing. With shaky hands he set aside Camille’s note and made swift plans to visit La Digue. He hadn’t left Mahe to see the Duplessis in over a decade, absorbed by his work and family life to the exclusion of old friends.
    Twenty-seven years ago the French Revolutionary Wars were ending, and the Seychelles were a haven between battles. Rousseau was a privateersman and Jean-Baptiste an infamous corsair. They both returned with regularity to favored La Digue where they forged a friendship built on their mutual love for the island. Jean-Baptiste was obsessed with the land like an insatiable lover. He would swagger and taunt Rousseau’s inferior adulation with audacious declarations - “La Digue is mine. My personal playground. My paradise. My lady.” It was this cocky, self-assurance that both rankled Rousseau and won his admiration.
    When Camille wove into their story, she captivated both men, but Jean-Baptiste claimed her heart. Their connection was instantaneous and all-consuming, and in the shadow of such passionate intensity, Rousseau’s attraction was smothered cold. Jean-Baptiste possessed a brazen bravery foreign to Rousseau. Even though the pirate lived a life without rules, his nonconformity to societal expectations had still surprised his cohorts. It wasn’t Jean-Baptiste’s open pursuit of Camille, a woman of color, that shocked La Digue’s small population, but rather his determination to make her his wife. There is a lot of back story here. It's a lot to take in. Is there anyway to get back into the story and incorporate this back story here and there?
    Although Rousseau and Jean-Baptiste were of like minds, the influences of Rousseau’s bourgeois childhood in France lingered. He cared too much what others thought. His sensitivity to prejudice made him an occasional conformer, careful how he fought with the ignorant, selective about his inner circle, and hesitant to share his private life in ways that might lead to ostracism. When Rousseau moved to Mahe, he joined a wealthy class of plantation owners, known as les Grands Blancs. Within this new social group, he tried to emulate Jean-Baptiste in subtle ways, but could never overcome a certain cowardice. This is reading like a history text book. put me back in the story!
    Rousseau too had fallen in love with an African woman and was part of a second generation of European men who quietly established a mixed-race family. He claimed parentage of his offspring, two curly-haired, mischievous little boys, by bestowing his name and guaranteeing their inheritance. But unlike Jean-Baptiste, his respected mentor in life, Rousseau did not have the courage to marry or flaunt his love outside a tight circle of friends. Without an explanation for his hypocrisies Rousseau had avoided visiting the people he most respected. Jean-Baptiste’s death sharpened his regret and spurred him to make amends. He regretted his failures as an absent friend, as a man beholden to a discriminatory society he disagreed with, and as a person who wished to live in a colorblind world without believing in its possibility.
    Camille was a gifted healer whose European husband had never defined her status, but Rousseau wondered if others would view Adine through the same filter. Without her father’s introductions, he imagined her options limited. The truth of his worries were racial, because Adine straddled two divergent pools of DNA, each representative of separate societal spheres and opportunity. What he doubted was Camille’s ability to navigate between both worlds, especially one that might exclude her, and he planned to step in as her daughter’s liaison. His coming trip to La Digue was more than a show of sympathy; it was a second chance at redemption. If he couldn’t be the hero in his own life, perhaps he could be the hero for another?

I adore historical fiction and am working on one myself. Love the sound of this story, but you lost me with these last few paragraphs that read too dry for my taste. I'd work on cleverly incorporating the backstory here and there instead of one giant clump. good luck!
« Last Edit: February 03, 2019, 02:47:12 PM by rivergirl »

Offline MsGretaGreen

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Re: Seychelles (untitled) - historical fiction
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2019, 07:25:19 AM »
Hello Rivergirl, I was hoping that you would read my pages, as I’ve appreciated the suggestions you have made to other writers. Your critique has helped me immensely. I too, have problems with my last paragraphs (info dump and over explanation of character's motivation). Thankfully the next scene is all dialogue and action. Now I just have to find a way to pepper in my factoids. As a side note, my manuscript is written in third person, omniscient. It is a family saga that shifts POV amongst several characters (Camille being one of them in future scenes). I’ve worked hard not to head-hop within each scene, but the pov is challenging to say the least.

Offline MsGretaGreen

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Re: Seychelles (untitled) - historical fiction ***NEW***
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2019, 05:26:14 AM »
    “Bla-Ros, White-Pink”

    1829, La Digue, Seychelles

    As a child, Adine had collected enough bits and pieces of her parent’s romance to assemble a pretty collage, but it wasn’t until she neared sixteen that her flat picture became three-dimensional.

    * * *

    When Jean-Baptiste first fell ill, his wife Camille assumed that his current malady was symptomatic of his arrhythmic heart, and prescribed bedrest and abstention from alcohol. She tasked herself with cooking a fish broth, rich in garlic and onions, and called upon their daughter Adine to watch him in her absence.
    Adine sat herself by her sleeping father’s side and observed how his brow glistened and his body shuddered as if caught in the grips of a nightmare. She reached for his shoulder, hesitated, and then shook him gently.
    “Papa?”
    He did not stir.
    Jean-Baptiste was fifty-four, seventeen years older than Adine’s mother Camille. Until this quiet moment, Adine reflected little on her parent’s age difference. Now, she scrutinized the deep wrinkles lining her father’s forehead and the gray pallor of his skin. She scanned his thinning hairline and marveled over how white his blonde hair had become.
    “Adine,” he mumbled slack-lipped, his cheek pressed into a pillow. “Water.”
    She raised a bedside gourd to his mouth and liquid dribbled down his jowls. He wheezed and shut his eyes.
    “Would you like me to read?” she asked.
    Jean-Baptiste grunted, which Adine interpreted for yes, and she read from the Bible.
    By nightfall his condition worsened, and Camille took over as the nursemaid and doctor. Adine felt her eyelids droop, but concerns for her father prevented her sleep. She shadowed Camille’s movements and observed how her mother cared for her father with both tenderness and clinical detachment, separating her feelings of wife from those of healer.
    Camille searched relentlessly for a remedy, opening her medicinal cabinet and rifling through her pantry of dried herbs as if a missed cure might materialize. After her fifth foray, she returned empty-handed to Jean-Baptiste’s bedside. A bluish foot poked out from underneath a thinning wool blanket, and Camille blanched at the sight. She pinched his toes as if this trick might bring color back to his body.
    “Jean,” her mother said, leaning over his body. She shook him and called again, “Jean-Baptiste,” but he did not wake. Camille grabbed her husband’s wrist and checked for a pulse.
    “Is he asleep?” said Adine.
    Her mother nodded.
    Adine smelled herbal concoctions brewing over a fire. Wasted efforts, she thought, before rushing to administer a cold compress to his brow. She suppressed her panic by doting on her father, until Camille grabbed her upper arm firmly and said, “No. It is enough.”
    Camille sat deflated by her husband, with his limp hand in hers. Adine watched her mother massage his rough palms and felt a warm tear trace the side of her face. She kneeled beside her, and they listened to his labored breathing for hours.
    When the sounds from Jean-Baptiste’s throat became coarse, Adine’s body tensed. Her father’s eyes shot open, then rolled backward, exposing the whites. Adine gasped, and Camille pulled her close to shield the sight, but she resisted. When her father convulsed with spasms, she shook with sobs. When an eerie croak escaped from his lips, it queued a moan from hers, and when his chest sunk, her heart broke.
    Jean-Baptiste Duplessis, the fabled French pirate, champion husband, and devoted father, was alive no more.

    * * *

    Adine’s mother Camille was a free woman of mixed African and European heritage, who came from a long line of Central African healers. Adine never met her maternal great grandmother Dia, but knew she was the first ancestor to set foot on the Seychelles, a largely uninhabited island chain with no indigenous population. According to Camille, Dia had been stolen from her village, raped by a Dutch slaver, and imprisoned in a dank shipping hull. She was destined for the Arab slave markets when a storm saved her life. Her survival of a shipwreck was a miracle, but she did not escape unscathed. By the time that Dia and a handful of fellow Africans washed up on the shore of La Digue Island, she was pregnant with her rapist’s child. This marked the beginning of their family’s cloudy lineage.
    The survivors first hid in the tangled hillside of Belle Vue, the highest peak on La Digue, but eventually established their home by the water in a place now known as La Passe. With no material possessions, these men and women of the woods brought only what their memory could carry - herbalism, shamanic drumming, and the spiritual practice of gris-gris.
    Camille inherited her Grandmother Dia’s magical prowess and learned how to use charms and amulets to tell fortunes, cast spells, and converse with the dead. In the immediate aftermath of Jean-Baptiste’s death, Camille sought guidance through the customs of her African ancestors. Dia had taught her to take care between death and burial, a period when a sorcerer - a Ti Albert - could steal the body and turn it into a dandotia… a zombie. For the safety of Jean-Baptiste’s soul, Camille and Adine alternated vigil by his corpse and planned to bury him within the day.
    With the help of a few close friends, Camille and Adine laid Jean-Baptiste in a sturdy coffin of takamaka wood and buried him in the island’s makeshift cemetery. Camille deferred to her husband’s Catholic faith with the erection of a cross, but insisted on a second adornment. At the head of his grave and facing the setting sun, Camille planted the nautical figurehead from Jean-Baptiste’s beloved ship, L’Eve de Poison. It featured a woman carved from ebony wood, in the storied likeness of biblical Eve. Since Jean-Baptiste had survived over thirty years at sea with this figurehead placating the gods, Camille imagined no better guide for his voyage to the underworld. With this unorthodox tomb marker - and doppelgänger, she bade farewell to her husband and insured the legend of their love would continue beyond death.

* * *
 
    Days after the burial, Delphin Rousseau received news of Jean-Baptiste’s passing. With shaky hands he set aside Camille’s note and retrieved a small traveling case from under his bed. He hadn’t left Mahe island to see the Duplessis in over a decade, absorbed by his plantation work and family life to the exclusion of old friends.
    He shuffled between his armoire and a dresser, packing random garments without focus, and recalled Jean-Baptiste’s swagger - his audacity. The brazen pirate used to taunt Rousseau for his inferior passions, and claimed La Digue “his personal playground, his lady.” It was this cocky, self-assurance that both rankled Rousseau and won his admiration.
    Rousseau’s eyes smarted with unaccustomed tears. He tossed a tortoise-shell comb into his bag and sat forlornly on his bed. Jean-Baptiste’s death sharpened his regrets as an absent friend. Adine was his goddaughter, and he owed Camille his help. Although she was a gifted healer whose European husband never defined her status, Rousseau wondered if others viewed Adine through the same filter. Without her father’s introductions, he imagined her options limited. The truth of his worries were racial, because Adine straddled two divergent pools of DNA, each representative of separate societal spheres and opportunity. What he doubted was Camille’s ability to navigate between both worlds, especially one that might exclude her, and he planned to step in as her daughter’s liaison.
    His coming trip to La Digue was more than a show of sympathy; it was a second chance at redemption. If he couldn’t be the hero in his own life, perhaps he could be the hero for another?
    Rousseau woke before sunrise and dressed in the dark so as not to wake Jeannette. He kissed her plump cheek goodbye before creeping toward the door.
    She called out in a groggy voice, “Don’t forget the boys. They expect your goodbye.”
    Like Jean-Baptiste, Rousseau fell in love with a woman of African descent, but unlike Jean-Baptiste, Rousseau did not have the courage to marry Jeannette or flaunt his love outside friends and fellow families of mixed-race. He did claim parentage of their offspring, two curly-haired, mischievous little boys, by bestowing his name and guaranteeing their inheritance.
    “Of course, mon cœur,” he said, shutting the door with a soft click.
    After a two-hour carriage ride, he arrived at Mahe’s port, boarded a ship, and sailed for the day. By late afternoon his vessel slipped through a gap in La Digue’s surrounding reef and anchored off island. The crew lowered several crates into a waiting pirogue, then instructed Rousseau to disembark by a rope ladder. A laborer rowed him to the shore where he arranged his final transportation. With the sun setting behind him, he rode by oxcart to Adine and Camille’s small cottage. Jean-Baptiste had referred to the house as their hideaway, because it lay on the outskirts of La Passe, inland from the sea, and obscured by a dense forest of green.

Offline kaperton

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Re: Seychelles (untitled) - historical fiction ***NEW***
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2019, 03:40:10 PM »
    “Bla-Ros, White-Pink”

    1829, La Digue, Seychelles

    As a child, Adine had collected enough bits and pieces of her parent’s romance to assemble a pretty collage, but it wasn’t until she neared sixteen that her flat picture became three-dimensional.

    * * *

    When Jean-Baptiste first fell ill, his wife Camille assumed that his current malady was symptomatic of his arrhythmic heart, and prescribed bedrest and abstention from alcohol. She tasked herself with cooking a fish broth, rich in garlic and onions, and called upon their daughter Adine to watch him in her absence. You don't need this and it's frankly a little boring. The next paragraph is so much more interesting.
    Adine sat herself by her sleeping father’s side and observed how his brow glistened and his body shuddered as if caught in the grips of a nightmare. She reached for his shoulder, hesitated, and then shook him gently.
    “Papa?”
    He did not stir.
    Jean-Baptiste was fifty-four, seventeen years older than Adine’s mother Camille. Until this quiet moment, Adine reflected little on her parent’s age difference. Now, she scrutinized the deep wrinkles lining her father’s forehead and the gray pallor of his skin. She scanned his thinning hairline and marveled over how white his blonde hair had become.
    “Adine,” he mumbled slack-lipped, his cheek pressed into a pillow. “Water.”
    She raised a bedside gourd to his mouth and liquid dribbled down his jowls. He wheezed and shut his eyes.
    “Would you like me to read?” she asked.
    Jean-Baptiste grunted, which Adine interpreted for yes, and she read from the Bible. What book? Specific is more interesting than general.
    By nightfall his condition worsened, and Camille took over as the nursemaid and doctor. Adine felt her eyelids droop, but concerns for her father prevented her sleep. She shadowed Camille’s movements and observed how her mother cared for her father with both tenderness and clinical detachment, separating her feelings of wife from those of healer.
    Camille searched relentlessly for a remedy, opening her medicinal cabinet and rifling through her pantry of dried herbs as if a missed cure might materialize. After her fifth foray, she returned empty-handed to Jean-Baptiste’s bedside. A bluish foot poked out from underneath a thinning wool blanket, and Camille blanched at the sight. She pinched his toes as if this trick might bring color back to his body.
    “Jean,” her mother said, leaning over his body. She shook him and called again, “Jean-Baptiste,” but he did not wake. Camille grabbed her husband’s wrist and checked for a pulse.
    “Is he asleep?” said Adine.
    Her mother nodded.
    Adine smelled herbal concoctions brewing over a fire. Wasted efforts, she thought, before rushing to administer a cold compress to his brow. She suppressed her panic by doting on her father, until Camille grabbed her upper arm firmly and said, “No. It is enough.”
    Camille sat deflated by her husband, with his limp hand in hers. Adine watched her mother massage his rough palms and felt a warm tear trace the side of her face. She kneeled beside her, and they listened to his labored breathing for hours.
    When the sounds from Jean-Baptiste’s throat became coarse, Adine’s body tensed. Her father’s eyes shot open, then rolled backward, exposing the whites. Adine gasped, and Camille pulled her close to shield the sight, but she resisted. When her father convulsed with spasms, she shook with sobs. When an eerie croak escaped from his lips, it queued a moan from hers, and when his chest sunk, her heart broke.
    Jean-Baptiste Duplessis, the fabled French pirate, champion husband, and devoted father, was alive no more.

    * * *

    Adine’s mother Camille was a free woman of mixed African and European heritage, who came from a long line of Central African healers. Adine never met her maternal great grandmother Dia, but knew she was the first ancestor to set foot on the Seychelles, a largely uninhabited island chain with no indigenous population. According to Camille, Dia had been stolen from her village, raped by a Dutch slaver, and imprisoned in a dank shipping hull. She was destined for the Arab slave markets when a storm saved her life. Her survival of a shipwreck was a miracle, but she did not escape unscathed. By the time that Dia and a handful of fellow Africans washed up on the shore of La Digue Island, she was pregnant with her rapist’s child. This marked the beginning of their family’s cloudy lineage. I suddenly feel like I'm reading a history book instead of a novel. Could you weave the info from this paragraph and the next into the story instead of just all this exposition up front? Here's a good article about how to put backstory in your novel: https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-weave-backstory-seamlessly-into-your-novel

Offline MsGretaGreen

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Re: Seychelles (untitled) - historical fiction. ***NEW***
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2019, 02:30:42 AM »
Thank you, Kaperton for taking a look at my pages!