|Posted by bebowreinhard on August 15, 2017 at 3:45 PM|
The 2nd edition of Mystic Fire is now available. I will admit to some bad feelings while going through first edition to fix errors. I didn’t expect to find so many! In my defense, this was the fastest I ever pulled a novel together. I graduated college in 2006, but actually started work on this novel before I started college. But in 2003, shortly after I’d done some work on it, my laptop was stolen. I didn’t have a backup of the new material and only had a print copy of the previous work. Then I started my master’s in history, and I’m really glad that the novel didn’t emerge until after that. I learned so much about Lincoln that I just knew I had to share it.
It was probably 2008 before I returned to the novel. Because I planned to go to the 2009 Bonanza convention, I wanted to have this novel ready in time, so it only went through four edits before my publisher got it. The amount of editing she did was minimal. She kept telling me not to make it too long, so I went through this 2nd edition with every intention to making it as long as it needed to be. What I ended up doing was a lot of clean-up, clarification and error-fixing -- but it didn’t need to be any longer.
When I initially ran my ideas past David Dortort on this novel in 2005, in order to get the book contracted, he was delighted to learn I knew so much about the Civil War. He was considered a foremost authority on the Civil War in Hollywood during his Bonanza days, and completely agreed with the storyline and my analysis of Lincoln in 1862. He was only sad that my master’s interfered with my completion of the book for so long. But in hindsight, this book would not have emerged with these insights without that degree.
Rather than attempt to make Lincoln look bad, the novel shows what he was like. I never really understood why he would issue an Emancipation Proclamation that didn’t free any slaves except those in the rebellion states, and learned that while he didn’t free the slaves, they began to free themselves. Lincoln instigated their new desires at freedom with his proclamation.
In this 2nd edit, I attempted to fix some readers’ concerns as well as editing errors. For the most part, if some readers didn’t finish, it was because of Margaret’s pregnancy storyline. I tried to soften that a bit, but to be honest, I couldn’t delete it because Adam needed a huge reason to go wandering off in the night, where he’s later kidnapped. I also read it with close eye for why readers had a hard to following the events that happened. Except for the Civil War/slavery storyline, everything else is pretty straightforward, and shouldn’t be difficult, but I did make some basic changes that might help.
As for how confusing Tobias and Sadie are, that’s deliberate. You never really know what their game is, as Adam and Ben are twisted and turned in every way imaginable. It’s deliberate because there was never a more confusing period in our history than the Civil War period. It was impossible to tell who was on whose side, a lot of the time. And here, having slaves be against Lincoln served two purposes: without giving away the plot, Sadie and Tobias are against each other in wondering how to stop Lincoln from sending blacks to other countries, and two, the slavers are alternately from the north, or the south, because of the hidden scheme that Tobias doesn’t completely, in his heart, support.
You see, in 1862 Lincoln didn’t know what to do with the slaves that he wanted to free. Sure, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed them in rebellion states, but Lincoln began to see them freeing themselves and running away, more and more. And Lincoln anticipated a problem with so many freed slaves that he bought into a plan to send them to plantations in Hayti (Haiti) or even back home to Africa, to a place created just for them—Liberia.
So Lincoln is a character in this book, and while the dialog I give him is fiction, the events that are being shown are real. (Get a print copy if you want to see the footnotes.) I also added the historical figures of Mark Twain and General George McClellan. They are voices of the period that would be hard to demonstrate otherwise.
While in Felling of the Sons, all four Cartwrights worked together against a single adversary (when they weren’t recovery from their injuries), I wanted to do something different in Mystic Fire. I wanted the book to reflect the series after Season 2, when more and more the episodes focused on a single Cartwright. Here, each Cartwright has a separate and unique storyline, and it necessitates following each of them at various times throughout the book. Hoss and Hop Sing work together when a mysterious ghostly woman shows up seeking help to keep her husband from murdering her. Joe loses Ben in a prairie fire – Sadie and her children save him by pulling him into the mine shaft where they’re hiding. And Adam gets abducted by the slavers with Tobias; because they plan to make him “walk out of here” once they get him far enough away, and because Tobias tells him things about Lincoln Adam doesn’t believe, Adam pretends to be a muley slave to stay with Tobias. He tells a story to Tobias about why he thought he could pull this off. This is the second criticism readers have had of the book, but I think all Cartwright fans can agree that Adam is darker skinned than the rest of his family. Ben, too, goes back with Sadie to meet with Lincoln and represent big silver interests, but unlike Adam, not as a slave. He at times, though, has to pretend he’s as slave owner, especially as they get closer to New Orleans.
Another element is the return of Marie’s cousin Darcy, the instigator of the plan that needs Ben, or any Cartwright, to come to New Orleans. He figured that Nevada Territory, with its Comstock Lode, would interest Lincoln enough to meet with a Cartwright in New Orleans, and that was their goal—getting Lincoln to New Orleans. Eventually in real life, Lincoln does push Nevada through statehood early, in late 1864, because he wants the silver taxed for the war effort.
As you can see, then, this is a very complicated book, but it’s so filled with action and fun and fact that you shouldn’t mind at all. It simply asks that you accept the research I put into it as valid (because it is), and the Cartwrights’ reactions as real as they are thrust into probably the most unusual situations a Cartwright has ever faced.
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