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17.9.12

Of Mutinies and Monsoons

Ever since I first read M.M.Kaye's 'Shadow of the Moon', I've been fascinated by tales of the Sepoy Uprising of 1857. Kaye's story painted a beautiful picture of the Glory Days of the Raj, not only the balls, the  beautiful, impractical dresses and the devoted  Indian servants, but also of the insidious rot that compelled dissatisfied Native troops to rebel against their East India Company oppressors. There are numerous theories, sound and otherwise, as to the real cause of the mutiny, which I won't go into here. What isn't disputed are the accounts of the atrocities committed by all parties during this turbulent period.

I knew that I wanted to write a story set during the Revolt. I just wasn't sure how to approach it. When I decided to set part of the first 'Endersley Paper's story in India during the uprising, the first thing I had to do was search for some reliable sources, then decide where I was going to set it. A lot of accounts deal with the Siege of Lucknow and there are several very good books which would've provided this author some great research material, but that particular siege was also at the heart of one of my favourite novels of all time, 'Zemindar', by Valerie Fitzgerald. I decided that I didn't want to revisit Lucknow, knowing that I could never do it justice. By happy accident, I stumbled on an account which included the Siege of Agra - 'A Lady's Escape from Gwalior and Life in the Fort of Agra during the Mutinies of 1857' by R M Coopland. Dear Mrs Coopland had accompanied her husband, Reverend Coopland to India, to the town of Gwalior. Unfortunately, her husband was killed when the troops mutinied and she was forced to flee, with others, to Agra, where they took refuge in the Red Fort.

Mrs Coopland's account of the siege provides those little everyday details that I crave: What they ate, where they slept, where they lived, what they did to pass the time. Admittedly, Mrs Coopland was less than charitable towards the locals, good and bad, but if I overlooked her obvious prejudices, her story was just what I needed. Armed with that information, all I had to do was to throw my characters, Jacob and Marcus into the fray. The events surrounding the Siege  of Agra were far less dramatic and prolonged as the Siege of Lucknow, but I'm hoping that I did the characters and the events  justice.

The trickiest part, though, was taking the story back to Victorian England. How can two men who love each other expect a Happily Ever After at a time when the Sodomy Law forbade such a relationship? Well, if you want to find out what happened, you'll have to read the book!

You can find it here: Lord of Endersley

3 comments:

Elysabeth Williams said...

I knew nothing about the Sepoy Uprising until I read this one. The story totally absorbed me into the rich landscape and history, while commanding me to learn more about it. I think you mastered it well. Can't wait for more!

Deborah said...

I love knowing research and getting it right is so crucial to your books. You made the romance sound compelling and who wouldn't want to know how they managed Happily Ever After!

M.C. Hana said...

Kudos for doing your research, and using it to create a compelling story. So many new writers pick fiction because they think 'it's easy, I'll just make something up.'

If they only knew...

Looking forward to reading this one!