Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nail Soup



I just posted this "author insight" about The Riddle of Penncroft Farm on Bublish and I decided to post it here, too. I had forgotten all about this "nail soup" bit!

Here is the excerpt I was writing about:

Suddenly hoofbeats clattered on the lane. A single horse cantered up. With eyes wild at the sight of the flames, it reared, hooves slicing at the smoky air. The two riders managed to slide off the horse’s back unhurt. For the moment, I had eyes only for the taller of the two. It was Will, dressed from head to toe as a Continental cavalryman. In his hand was his old hand-carved
cane, which he brandished over his head in fury as he shouted at the mob. “Shame, shame on you all! Is this how we are to build a new nation? By burning one another’s homes?” Under his torrent of scathing words, the rampaging mob rapidly dwindled into a knot of ten chastened men.
   - The Riddle of Penncroft Farm ©1989 by Dorothea Jensen


Remember the story in which a penniless man cozened everyone into adding vegetables to what he purported to be "nail soup?" (The very last thing he did was to remove the nail on the sly and eat the fine soup.) That is what this excerpt amounts to.  I saw a Revolutionary War drum in a museum and it was one large spur to my writing this story. I was going to have Geordie be a drummer boy in Washington's army, then I decided to have Ned Owens be one instead, which makes Geordie jealous. For the big finish/reveal about Sandy, I had her beating on such a drum as she rode behind Will to Penncroft Farm. Which was ridiculous. It would just not have been possible, especially as she would have been perched behind him with both legs on one side because she was wearing a dress. (This was called riding "aside" rather than "astride", I believe.) The very last thing I did before this book went to press was take the drum out of Sandy's hands. (So glad I did.)