When I wrote “The Alternative” I felt as though I was being guided by the Divine. As I wrote each chapter it was more like I was reading a good novel. I did not know what my characters would do next and I only had a vague idea of the final outcome.
I did much research into the conditions of slavery and I wanted to paint a clear picture of what it would be like to be a slave during the first half of the 19th century. One theme that reoccurred during research was the idea that many masters acted as their own stud when breeding slaves. I examined how this would affect the daughter of such a slave master. I had invented Mr. Lancer as a very evil man and I did not know how evil he was until near the end of the novel. His daughter had witnessed terrible behavior from her father, but it was later on that she, and I, discovered more heinous acts that he had performed before she was born. Surely this man was beyond redemption, but the plot took still more surprising turns. Could someone so evil ever have such a change of heart or was the goodness of a dying man simply an attempt to buy his way into Heaven? His family and his former slaves had to deal with such a dilemma. The readers are free to draw their own conclusions.
As I examined the conditions that led up to the USA civil war I was often reminded of the final note left by John Brown as he was being led to his execution. On Dec 2, 1859, he wrote;
“I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think vainly, flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.”
In fiction, I struggled to make happen what was impossible in reality, yet I wanted future generations to examine possibilities of alternatives to war. Surely it is not in our best interest and go on a killing spree every time things don’t go our own way. As children, we were encouraged to work out our differences with our brothers and sisters. It must be possible to do this in the larger family of humanity.