How much of the book is real?
Much of the novel is real. The geographic venue of the novel is as accurate as I could make it. The Tombigbee and Black Warrior Rivers are located as depicted, as are Forkland, Eutaw, Demopolis, the Columbus Road, the Eutaw Road, Saint Johns Church, the hotel at Forkland, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, the battle sites and events. The fictional part of the novel deals almost solely with the activities of the characters. Rosehill Plantation is modeled after a plantation at the site described in the novel. Some of the characters in the novel are modeled after real people that lived at the times indicated. The University history of being burned down by the Union Force occurred as described, as did the attempt to thwart it. The presence of diseases such as Yellow-jack or Yellow fever and Cholera took many lives in the years the novel encompasses. Likewise, childbirth was an iffy situation for both mother and child. Blood transfusions had not been rendered relatively safe procedures at that time. The tremendous violence that occurred after the War in Greene County was sourced primarily from the testimony referenced in the preface.
Your own family history helped shape the overall plot and factual elements. What other research did you have to do to flesh out the story?
Just relatively minor points did I have to research primarily for clarity. How transfusions were carried out, I had to research. I researched the history of the University of Alabama to get the facts depicted in the novel. I had done quite a bit of reading on Alabama history before writing this novel, which gave me a basic understanding of what had occurred during the Civil War years.
How much does River’s father’s disappearance affect him as he’s growing into a man?
River was guided primarily by his mother’s Indian background and her teachings of Indian principles and culture throughout his life. His father’s contact with River was limited by reason of his lifestyle as a trapper and by the fact he was no longer around after River was five or so years old.
Are your fictional characters based on anyone in real life?
Yes. James Henry is based on a real person, but the story line is partly fictional. River’s mother and father are based on real life. His mother did move on down to Forkland as depicted and lived in the same location as described in the novel. His father did disappear as described, presumably on a trapping trip. River’s mother was a Cherokee Indian. River was a composite character from many I knew or had read about. River was created for the novel. The African American characters in the novel, Mammy and Will, were recreations of stories I was aware of that dealt with characters my family was in contact with in times past. They were composite characters drawn up from those that lived in former times.
The Alabama Rebel: A Novel of Courage Amid Conflict
Synopsis: This historically based novel is a window into Alabama both before, during and after the Civil War. River Hunter is the son of a Cherokee mother and a Scotch-Irish father who has a unique perspective on a society that undergoes a radical shift forced on it by the War. River's father is presumed dead after disappearing on a trapping trip into the mountains of the Carolinas, so, River's mother gathers her children and they move to the cotton belt of Alabama to avoid being shipped west by President Jackson during the Removal time for Native Americans. River rapidly adapts to the new life and has an insatiable appetite for knowledge, reading books at every opportunity. In time he obtains a formal education at recognized academies and universities. Following his heroic service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and schooling at one of the nation's most prestigious law schools, River becomes an attorney. He is then betrothed to a beautiful young woman who has inherited a substantial plantation upon the death of her husband in the War. Many problems plague the young couple from the forces existing in the South after the War to the prejudicial attitudes of River's in-laws to the polarized politics between the newly freed Slaves and their former owners. This fascinating novel exams all sides within the context of a very unique segment of American history.
Fiction, 286 Pages
Signalman Publishing, October 2, 2012
Available on Paperback