Several families mentioned throughout Clingstone were actual families that were arrested: For example, Rebecca Jane Farr and her husband Samuel did exist and had a young son named Jonathan. Then there were individuals and families that I constructed purely from my imagination. There are plenty of on-line data bases that can provide period-specific names, but I developed my minor characters’ names another way. This might be a morbid behind-the-scenes peek that no one wants to know, but I compiled my list of names two ways: firstly, from a passenger manifest dating from the mid-nineteenth century, which unfortunately was archived because the ship sank; and secondly, from gravestones. Hey, I warned you it was a bit morbid, but there’s nothing more authentic than walking through a cemetery and seeing firsthand the names that were popular in the early 19th century. There’s a lovely old cemetery on the outskirts of the small town where I live and where I often walked my Golden Retriever when I was writing the first draft of Clingstone. Some of the oldest tombstones in that graveyard date back to the first decade of the 19th century. During my research for names, I mixed and matched first and last names for the sake of anonymity, but by using actual names from that time period, I was able to achieve a level of authenticity that would have been missing had I simply plucked names from my imagination.
And of course, since many supporting characters mentioned throughout Clingstone were in fact actual people, like General Garrard and Dr. Mary Walker, they essentially wrote themselves. I think Dr. Walker in particular was a rather fascinating historical figure; had they met under different circumstances, I think Mae and Dr. Walker would have had a cordial relationship instead of a contentious one. Both were stubborn women with strong opinions and even stronger loyalties. Other than being on opposite sides of the war, they had much in common.
Want to learn more about two of the historical figures mentioned in Clingstone? Click here for General Garrard and here for the very no-nonsense Dr. Mary Walker.