Wednesday, August 14, 2013

4 is Thirteen in the 2nd Stanza

Before a hero’s journey takes a dramatic turn, I have to take a pause from writing the main narrative. The male lead of the story has been given the first piece of the poetic story woven into this narrative’s fabric, and now I have to return to composing my fourth and final epic poem as he’s presented with the second and third parts to the tale.

The scene is much the same, as again the narrative’s reality drops away and moves seamlessly into a poetic story. The main character witnesses time pass, and a degeneration of a once great people take place, including their enslavement. Then, a city built to enslave and encage props up around them after fighting for ‘freedom.’ The main character (for the main narrative) also sees his mirror image, the main character of the epic poem. But the reflection is not what he’s expecting. The character of this new epic poem is less accepting of, and more determined to change, his environment than most of the characters I’ve dealt with in past epic poems. But he’s very weak. So the quest begins to find strength, and the hero to the overall narrative is confused, especially after going through his culture’s rites and believes he’s gained a great deal of strength. How can his reflection look so weak? His reaction to this, I gotta say, is…kinda cool, even if it’s arrogant as hell. If you’re going to prove you’re a badass, and nothing like what something is painting you as, this would be the way to do it.

The third part to the story, of which I’m composing now, is then given to him. I’m still working out how each part comes to him. The first three have been easy. As I’ve said before, unlike Horatio Peters in The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn, this epic poem isn’t a past life. So, it’s not based on some spiritually encoded, metaphysical memory. It’s still composed of ancient hieroglyphs, but not mystical music notations played through a magical trumpet. But, as I’m writing, I’m hammering out the outline for the second act as well as picking up old notes for the fourth epic poem and giving a proper outline for that story. For the main narrative’s second act, I have a page and a half of points that must be hit, but not a thorough outline as I’ve had with act one. And that thing made this writing process really smooth. I would love to knockout an outline just as fleshed out that I’m on the third act by December, possibly earlier.

One easy point to the epic poem is that it’s co-composed by the main female character of the story. She’s been introduced in the first chapter but only as a little girl. It’s now thirteen years later, and I’m finally having the main male character and her meet. They already know (of) each other. They attend the same college in Brooklyn, but her family is estranged from the Fable Avenue community, though she’s still entrenched in her culture. She hasn’t grown up in any of the boroughs of New York City. She’s lived the past thirteen years in Mount Vernon, New York. But the main male character, and the matriarchs and patriarch of Fable Avenue, is in desperate need of her grandmother’s help (where most of the ill resonates). So, past wounds have to be healed. All must be forgiven, at least for a little while. And an epic story, told through poetry, must be composed.

Unlike the hero, she, our heroine, has more control over the poetic story. It allows her to be honest and exercise her of much despair and past demons. At first I had considered that the main male character was going to compose the entire poem, and she would be angry at how he ‘viewed’ and composed a character representing her. But as she’s brought back into the fold of the Fable Avenue community, and goes through rites she should’ve received when she was nine and thirteen, I felt that she should have a say. That say should reflect her willingness to confront her past, and how she feels about herself. She can be honest now with a community backing her up. But we’ll see her power blossom.

And, after all this, there’s still some proper villains out there looking to wreck shop.

b write black.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Water Bug Hollow Celebrates This Day!

“The defeated slave owner, Elias Jakobi, a man of English and French descent, was buried on the property. An altar was made at his burial site, and every year, on the 12th of August, a bonfire was lit ritualistically and the Negroes of the area danced merrily around it.” – a passage from The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn

Water Bug Hollow is a fictional bayou village featured in The Fable Avenue Saga™. The village is located in Louisiana, thirty minutes west of New Orleans. It first appears in The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn in the chapter Water Bug Hollow, Louisiana 1917. Water Bug Hollow’s early history is violent and bloody, spanning from its days as a brutal slave-run plantation to its even bloodier uprising that took the life of many black slaves, plantation owner Elias Jakobi, his family, and all the overseers and white employers.

Rumors of Freedom amidst War and Rumors of War
The quiet rumblings of the Emancipation Proclamation filtered down South, all the way to Elias Jakobi’s plantation, stirring the interest of his slaves. Elias, not addressing his slaves directly, calmed the hysteria by saying the Emancipation Proclamation was a decree for the Irish workers in the North to receive equal pay. But one of his slaves, a young man named Curtis Jacobson, was inspired to action. Leaving the plantation one night, Curtis’ plan was to find a Union unit and lead the soldiers to the plantation to help free the enslaved blacks.

Dodging the presence of Confederate militia, Curtis got as far as Alabama before being captured by an overseer of a plantation. He was locked away in a large slave shack for the night as the plantation’s owner put out word to see if there was a reward for Curtis. But as luck would have it, this plantation’s owner, Lachlan Mackenzie, was putting together a deal that would swindle a self-proclaimed savvy businessman named Oscar MacRitchie who was newly arrived in America from Scotland. Upset at the shady deal was about to enter into, Oscar decided to get back at Lachlan (who he thought was of good nature because he was a fellow Scotsman) by freeing Curtis and all thirteen of Lachlan’s slaves. In a quick conversation, Curtis, who gained a knack for business by watching closely the dealings and goings-on of the plantation where he was enslaved, was able to work a deal with Oscar MacRitchie to do business with one another once he was truly free.

Curtis devised a plan to that would alleviate Oscar of blame for having freed him and Lachlan’s slaves. Oscar also told Curtis of a cache of Union weapons recovered by Lachlan and two of his overseers and stored in a nearby shed. Lachlan had been planning to sell the weapons to the Confederates. Rallying the thirteen slaves to fight, Curtis stowed away into the night with them as a small militia after securing the Union weapons. Curtis returned to Louisiana to free his wife, children, and her family. The battle lasted forty days, with Curtis’ militia growing in numbers as they freed more and more slaves. The battle ended on August 11th, with the death of Elias Jakobi, his family, and his overseers. Curtis (now known as The Water Bug, or ‘that tricky nigger’), had his army block the roads leading to the plantation while the battle ensued.

After his defeat, Elias and his family were buried on the property. Curtis reunited with Oscar MacRitchie in New York City and forged a trade deal that would bring goods to Water Bug Hollow. Runaway slaves eventually journeyed back to the area and became residents as the landscape changed and the might plantation houses were converted to apartments, and other buildings were erected for schools and local stores and dentistry and infirmary.

Every year, since 1864, the all-black residents of the former plantation celebrate their independence with a wondrous day that begins with games, stories, and reenactments of their bloody emancipation from the slave owner Elias Jakobi by the brave Curtis ‘The Water Bug’ Hollow.

Is it true?
Throughout The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn, Water Bug Hollow’s history comes under question, and Curtis’ brave exploits are considered over time as ‘the stuff of legends and mythology’. Later, the character Lionel Ladon brings to Water Bug Hollow, what he considers to be, the truth of Curtis’ exploits and Water Bug Hollow’s beginnings. Sarinda Fallows, while pretending to be a visiting relative of the MacRitchies, disrupts the culture of Water Bug Hollow, first coming into the community with a false warning that white outsiders look at Water Bug Hollow as a place of ‘devil worship’ because they practice Christianity through the beliefs of hoodoo. The annual bonfire, she tells, makes the outside whites believe that devil worship happens in Water Bug Hollow. However, the citizens are quite aware of how the whites view Curtis ‘The Water Bug’ Hollow as a ‘tricky nigger’ and a ‘bloody murderer’.

While feigning a smile, and with great patience, Sarinda Fallows helps undermine the great, independent black population as she inches closer to an ancient relic harbored by one of Water Bug Hollow’s citizens, the jazz singer Theresa Amat. The remaining pages of the book reveal the truth of Water Bug Hollow’s history and showcases Theresa’s daughter and granddaughter and Sarinda Fallows’ unending pursuit to destroy the Amat talented and spiritual bloodline.

Fun BTS facts
Water Bug Hollow was initially set to appear in a project outside of The Fable Avenue Saga™. Because of intense “research fatigue” (as I call it) from 3 years of fact-finding for A Company of Moors, I decided to incorporate Water Bug Hollow and its history into The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn, and ultimately, the Fable Avenue Saga™. The setting for these plot points and events was initially New Orleans. I had done some research on black life in New Orleans in the early 1900s, but this fictional area better serves the plot and allowed for leeway.

Curtis ‘The Water Bug’ Hollow is named after baseball player Curtis Granderson, Jr. He was referred to in notes only as ‘The Rebel’ up until writing began. I was watching the Yankees one day and Curtis led the team to a come-from-behind victory, and had been doing that for several games. He was kicking ass and leading the charge. I then had a name for ‘the rebel.’

Water Bug Hollow’s initial development described it as a ‘Mos Eisley-type sanctuary for former slaves’.

The celebratory day of August 12 comes from my parents' anniversary.

Water Bug Hollow’s citizens were at first more conscious of the ‘magic’ surrounding the place. This idea was focused into the veil’s power that turns Theresa Amat into Mamma Indigo.

Although not mentioned in detail, Water Bug Hollow’s economy was mapped out thoroughly, and research on small black towns was done to give the feel of an authentic place.

Water Bug Hollow’s varying histories were written to be believable when spoken by characters so that the reader would not be able to tell which was which until the proper history is revealed.

Water Bug Hollow’s ‘rebellion history’ is the second black slave rebellion featured in The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn. The first being the central plot to the song/epic poem of The Sun Dial Tone.

Joseph Pepper IV hearing the history of Water Bug Hollow, as recounted by its residents when he enters the area on the annual night of celebration (August 12), was first written as narrative back story. That initially took away from Joseph walking into the area, so, in order to stay with Joseph Pepper ('tracking' alongside him as he makes his way to the jook joint and apartment complex named Eve's Hallow) I had him hearing different residents recounting the history, and turned the narrative into dialogue.

Water Bug Hollow is set to factor in more prominently in the remaining books of The Fable Avenue Saga™.