Posts Tagged ‘historical fiction’

Writer’s Digest Contest for Self-Published Authors

November 23, 2012

What did you like best about Tides of Grace: BOOK 1 of THE GRACE SEXTET

The novel is both moving and entertaining.  The author does a magnificent job of transporting the reader back to the life of a girl in St. Louis a hundred years ago.  The novel begins with a literal bang, the shotgun blast with which Grace’s father takes his own life.  It’s typical of the novel’s strategy of intensification that Grace discovers her father’s body and gets his blood on herself on the same day she has her first period.  Sexuality is the engine of this machine, and the author depicts various scenes of Grace’s erotic awakening (and it’s no accident that she reads Kate Chopin’s The Awakening):  spying on her friend Dottie and Willy through an open window as they’re about to have intercourse, masturbating outdoors, having sex with her teacher in a closet at school, and taking Aunt Lydia’s “oily, green liquid” to induce an abortion.  The novel applies a contemporary sense of values (including how white people should refer to black people) to American life in 1907.  I think this revisionist approach is refreshing, a way of both righting some wrongs and making the novel more accessible to readers today.  The dialogue is brilliantly rendered, with each character speaking in a distinctive, identifiable way.  It’s a wonderful novel by a gifted author who clearly has more in mind for Grace, her brother Damien, and her friends Dottie and Cornelia in the planned sextet.

Grace’s doppelganger

May 30, 2012

Grace and her Doppelganger

Frankly, I don’t remember when the idea of a double, a ‘dark angel,’ for Grace came into the story. I was looking for a correlative of her damaged personality, of the disabling effect of trauma she experienced as a budding adolescent, the image of a figure floating above and around her came to me.  The figure, as I hope the Prologue to Tides of Grace makes clear, is that part of herself that has broken away from the main. As I became more familiar with it I began to think of it as large fragment of her id, the primitive, amoral dark energy that inhabits the deep recesses of the mind, the place from which mayhem and error arise. Since it is broken off from her psyche, she has little or no control over it; in fact it controls her, slipping at odd times past the defenses of ethics, social order and decorum and religious control to wreak havoc in her life.  Grace’s doppelganger has masculine tendencies; it’s quick to anger and it can be vicious in retaliation against anything challenging its authority.  It makes a thief of Grace and her thievery has disastrous results.

Turn-of-the-Century St. Louis, Missouri

March 15, 2012


Probably the most historically significant building in St. Louis in 1907, the time of Tides of Grace, was the Old Courthouse.  The first part of Tides of Grace ends with Grace Lampley, age 17, sitting on a bench and looking down at the muddy Mississippi River rolling by on a muggy Labor Day Monday.


I found a floor plan and a drawing for the Lampley home in St. Louis in Shoppell’s Modern Houses published in the late 19th Century. The catalog price of this residence was $2985.  Readers of Tides of Grace will recognize the front stairs and the back stairs, the veranda, and the balconies, as well as the cellar.


This image is from a post card from 1909. Much of “Juliet,” the second section of Tides of Grace, takes place in and around Central High School. Coincidentally, in 1927 a tornado demolished the building and killing 4 women students. It was never rebuilt.

December 10, 2011

Information about novel by Weldon B. Durham