My new book, Martha and the Slave Catchers will be published on November 7, 2017, by Seven Stories Press. It is available for pre-ordering at several on-line stores.
I know that it has been quite a while since I’ve written anything for this blog, but I’ve been hard at work preparing my first children’s novel for publication. Martha and the Slave Catchers was written for Middle Grade children and is a story of the effects of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 on the lives of two children living in the northeastern area of Connecticut. Here is a brief synopsis of the tale:
Danger lurks in every corner of almost fourteen-year-old Martha Bartlett’s life—and all because her mama and papa, agents of the Underground Railroad in Liberty Falls, Connecticut, decide to claim as their own the orphan of a runaway slave who died in their attic hideaway. They name him Jake.
After the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 is enacted, two hired slave catchers, Will and Tom, kidnap Jake and take him south to the plantation of Robert Dawes. Always ambivalent about her demanding, mischievous, and learning impaired brother, Martha nonetheless feels guilty about his disappearance. After all, it was her job to watch over him on that very day he was snatched. She pledges to find him and bring him home.
Martha becomes part of an Underground Railroad plan to rescue Jake. That journey takes her away from the safe world she has always known to a world full of danger, bigotry, violence and self-discovery. Missing their connection with famed slave rescuer, Harriet Tubman, Martha and Jake are forced to start their perilous journey north with only each other to depend on. Meanwhile Will and Tom are always close on their heels. Will they receive help from the Underground Railroad in their escape? Will they make it to safety? Will they ever see their home and parents again?
These and other questions are answered by the end of the novel.
To accompany the novel, I have designed a web page which you can link to above. It explains the historical context for many episodes in the story. I invite those folks who have already read a draft of the book or will receive an advanced copy to take a look at the web page. In the months to come, I will write about other aspects of the work, including Seven Stories Press, the illustrator Elizabeth Zunon, and other folks involved in the book’s production.