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Ohio River

The Ohio River crossing where Jacob Pingrim escaped.

Safe House

Safe house for escaping slaves.

Johnny Payne Image

No novel took so long to write, or underwent so many rewrites as Maysville, which will be published soon by TCK Publishers. I first conceived it in 2000. Its initial version had eight (!) narrators. It was a kaleidoscope of history, parody, metafiction, and sincerity. It was crowded to say the least. Over time, I got those narrators down to three–mostly two–but that, a technical fix, was only part of the solution. I had to find the story in an 1833 novel about abolition, which began with me reading about the historical figure and onetime Vice President of the U.S., Henry Clay. I had wanted to write about him, and then the great historian Robert Remini went and wrote a masterful biography about him, stealing my thunder. The next idea was to base the main character on John Fee, who founded Berea College, a rabble rouser of the first order. Yet I found I could only write him as a cartoon character, lying across a saddle while getting made fun of. So, that was gone.

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