Q: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
A: I learned a TON of things! This last novella took place in 1791 in New South Wales, Australia. Only, back then, they didn’t call the continent Australia quite yet. This was only three years into the settlement at Sydney Cove. Luckily, there’s a lot of documentation out there detailing how the colony was arranged and what life was like for the convicts who settled there. I learned about the aborigines and the terribly unfair treatment they received as a result of the English moving onto the land they had inhabited for centuries. It’s much like the situation with the Native Americans. I love it when I dive into a new historical novella and realize there’s a lot of information about that particular era.
But more than that, I learned about what it may mean to forgive and let go of past offenses. The characters in The Scholars are Geoffrey and Adam Swenson, and when they’re arrested for tax evasion in England, they’re sent to Australia aboard the Third Fleet. Once they arrive, they run off into the bush and find someone they would have never expected. Alfred Swenson – Geoffrey’s father – abandoned his family without word or warning. Geoffrey and Hugo never knew what their father was, so when they turned into werewolves, it was a shock and their feelings toward Alfred were forever poisoned by this hate. Since they became werewolves, it means that their father was one too, and they assumed he knew that they would turn. Thing is, he didn’t. Alfred had no proper training, so he didn’t know his sons would turn. Otherwise, he might have stayed. But he left in order to protect them because he realized it was harder to control himself in his beast form around his family. So he ran away and never looked back, ending up in Australia. Geoffrey and Adam (Geoffrey’s son) learn all this and they have a decision to make. Forgive Alfred or keep festering in their hatred. Although I’ve never experienced the kind of abandonment they did, I had to delve deep into what it meant to forgive someone after years of bitterness toward that person. What would that feel like? How would they react when they hear the truth? What would be their reasons for forgiveness? I learned, just by conjecture and a little bit of study into psychology what it would have been like for Geoffrey and Adam.