Here's my newest publication -- not a novel -- not even a full-sized book -- but an introduction to the larger story that will follow it. "Left by the Side of the Road" is a collection of short stories about life in South Carolina's Low Country during the Civil War. It is not a continuous novel, or even a novella, although I have tried to maintain some chronological order among the stories. There is no single plot or story line. The collection is simply that--a series of glimpses into the past.
The characters are real historical figures: slaves who were abandoned when the plantation owners fled in fear of the invading Union Army; government officials charged with the logistics of organizing captured territory; Army officers and the women who accompanied them; and abolitionists determined to prove that former slaves could become productive citizens.
Some of these people have appeared in my past books, "A Scratch with the Rebels" and "Beyond All Price." Others will make cameo appearances in my upcoming book, "The Road to Frogmore." All of them are here because they share certain characteristics. They are fascinating people in their own right, but they do not play a major role in the story of Laura Towne and the founding of a school for former slaves at Frogmore. They are characters who were literally "left by the side of the road" as Laura's story developed.
All of these interesting people may some day become main characters in novels of their own. But for now, they serve two purposes. Through their observations and experiences they shed additional light on what life was really like during the Civil War. And more important, they form bridges between the stories I have already told and those that are yet to come.