Transfer by Apple Gidley
Transfer traces the lives of those on Anna’s Fancy, the Clausen estate on Saint Croix in the Danish West Indies, handed down through three generations. An historical novel andthe sequel to Fireburn (OC Publishing 2017), Transfer sees Niels Clausen, the illegitimate child of a Danish landowner and his black mistress who both died as a result of the 1878 worker revolt, leave his adoptive mother’s sugar plantation and sail to England to continue his education.
With the help of Toby, a British aristocrat, Ivy, a lady’s maid turned lady and her botanist husband, Timothy, Niels challenges the perceptions on the streets of London of a black man at the turn of the 20th century. His development as a writer and political protagonist continues as he travels to Denmark and France where he meets up with childhood friends, Javier and Fabiana Gomez, before returning to Saint Croix.
The Danish West Indies face an uncertain future as the declining sugar industry lessens Denmark’s interest in their colonial outpost. Niels becomes increasingly involved in the future of the islands as war looms and concerns grow that Germany might covet a presence in the Caribbean. Will the islands’ security be guaranteed by the transfer of power to America?
The highs and lows of Niels’ life are punctuated by the crossing of oceans and cultures as well as the political manoeuvrings of a turbulent time in Europe, the United States and the Caribbean.
Author Feature with Apple Gidley
In a recent interview I was asked if I was a ‘pantser’ – that breed of writer who goes with the flow, lets the plot unfold as the words are tapped into the computer. I admitted, almost with shame, that I am indeed one of those flying by the seat of my knickers. But then I really started thinking about my writing process – how formal that sounds – and even if it is a bit loosey-goosey, I do in fact have a plan. But like all my plans, they are subject to change.
Before I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, I write a backstory for each major character. Sometimes a few cryptic words. Sometimes an in-depth analysis that takes the character through the arc of their life.
The funny thing about fictional characters is they dare to get a mind of their own – despite that backstory – and become so real to me they take up a considerable amount of space in my mind. Their problems become my problems and I lie awake worrying about them.
Mostly, I like my characters. But everyone needs a little stress in their lives. It’s what makes us get up each morning. The stress of getting to work on time, of taking the dog for a walk between thunder storms, of finishing a blog for a book blog tour. And so every story needs tension and a good way to introduce tension is to create a bastard.
In Fireburn, an historical novel set in the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands) of the 1870s, Carl Pedersen was my bastard. His backstory looks like this in my notes. “Cruel, misogynistic. Arrogant. Formal. Danish. Wants Anna’s Fancy [the sugar plantation]. First wife died in childbirth, as did the child. Tall. Reedy. Reasonable looking. Blonde going grey. Has a black mistress.” Now here comes a spoiler alert, so stop now if you’d like to read Fireburn.
Carl eventually persuades Anna [main character] to marry him by preying on her fears of not being able to keep her family’s estate after her father dies. He makes her life hell and is horribly violent. And before I put you off the book, I think brutality and sex should only be used if they truly carry the story forward. Writing Carl sometimes made me feel sick, and into his fictitious persona flowed all the ghastly human traits one reads about in the papers on a daily basis.
And then I killed him!
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