The Story Behind the Story of The Planter’s Daughter By Michelle Shocklee
Today I’m excited to welcome author Michelle Shocklee as she shares where she got the idea for her latest release, The Planter’s Daughter.
Ask any author where they get story ideas and you will receive a hundred different answers. A life event, a trip, a book, or an interesting picture can all ignite an active imagination. I’ve even had the concept for the perfect story come in the middle of the night, requiring a scramble out of bed in the dark to locate a piece of paper and a pen.
The idea for THE PLANTER’S DAUGHTER began when I read UNCLE TOM’S CABIN by Harriet Beecher Stowe for the first time. It deeply moved me, in the same manner it moved people back when it was first published in 1852. I still remember how heartbroken I felt reading about the treatment of Tom and the other slaves. When I finished it, I knew I wanted to write a book that involved slavery, because the slaves and what they endured should never be forgotten.
Because we live in Texas, I wanted to set the book in the Lone Star State. I began reading about antebellum Texas and was surprised to learn of the many plantations that existed as well as the vast number of slaves who lived in the state. By the end of the Civil War, there were over 250,000 slaves in bondage in Texas, a number that still shocks me considering half of the state was considered the frontier.
While I researched the story, I discovered a book called I WAS BORN IN SLAVERY, true narratives of former Texas slaves. To hear their stories told in their own words was invaluable. Many of the scenes, experiences, and even some of the slave names in THE PLANTER’S DAUGHTER are based on the actual lives and events of former Texas slaves.
At the heart of the story, however, is the romance between Adella and Seth. I am often asked where I find names for my characters, and I must admit that the story behind Adella’s name is the most interesting. My husband and I live on a 400-acre ranch in the hill country of Texas, and directly across from our house is a small graveyard. I say small, as in there is only one marker (although I am convinced there are two residents!). The headstone is very worn, with much of the information gone, including the first and last name of the deceased. Her middle name, however, is very clear: Adele. Adele lived in the 1800s. She was born in Switzerland and was a beloved wife. I often refer to her as my neighbor, and I wanted to name my heroine after her, because a woman living in the wilds of 1800s Texas was surely a brave and interesting woman. I chose the name Adella in her honor.
My hope is readers will enjoy the historical details found in THE PLANTER’S DAUGHER, and immerse themselves in a satisfying tale of love, hardship, and courage.
Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Michelle Shocklee is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart. But after living in Texas the past thirty years with her tall Texan husband, she has grown to truly appreciate the Lone Star State’s rugged beauty. Her family lived in Williamson County, the setting for her debut novel THE PLANTER’S DAUGHTER, for more than twenty years. She and her husband currently live and work on a 400-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country where they can often be found spoiling llamas, sheep, and chickens, and enjoying the abundant wildlife. Passionate about history, she considers it pure joy to immerse herself in stories from the past, whether fiction or true-life tales. She is a contributing author in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazine articles, and writes the Life Along The Way blog.