Inspiration for ‘Taken Aback’

Deborah working on the beachOften I am asked, "Where did you get your inspiration?" to which I can honestly reply, "I was sitting on a beach one day and . . ." Truly! I was visiting a dear friend in the Caribbean island of Nevis. He showed me a timeline of the island's history. Every American knows that the freedom cry: “No Taxation Without Representation!” rallied patriots of thirteen colonies to declare independence from the Crown. However, the Nevis timeline revealed that this moving phrase was uttered in Nevis nearly one hundred years before the American revolution. My understanding of colonial Caribbean history was shamefully vague, yet the anthropological importance of that region to America and Great Britain cannot be underestimated. The incredible prosperity of those islands started industrial and political revolutions, developed a middle class, and spurred the largest exchange of wealth the world had ever known. I wanted to learn more and, as a teacher, I felt an innate desire to share with others the incredible history of the first Europeans and Africans in the Americas. Who were those settlers? How did they change the nature of the new world? What drove them to leave their relatively secure, comfortable, or at least familiar existence for the dangers and rigors of colonial life? Were they brave explorers or willful entrepreneurs? Ignorant dreamers or victims of unforeseen circumstances? They are the spirited souls I wanted to champion in Taken Aback! To represent the naivety and vulnerability of those who first tumbled onto the shores, I started my story with two children as the main characters. While doing the research for Taken Aback, I quickly learned that, although Nevis was an essential economic pillar in the Caribbean and had its own colorful history, the pirate capitol of Port Royal, Jamaica was the hub of Caribbean wealth and activity in the mid to late 1600’s. So, it is on that island that I based my story. In Taken Aback’s time frame, the Caribbean was one corner of what became known in the world of commerce as "The Golden Triangle". Salted cod, lumber, and corn from New England were traded in the Caribbean for tobacco, cotton, and sugar products that were sold in the markets of Europe. Hard and soft goods were then shipped from England to the American colonies. By weaving my story with real characters and events, I wanted to connect each corner of that important trade route. I hope you enjoy reading Taken Aback. On these pages, you can read more about some of the events that are featured in the book.