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What really happened to the Lost Colony?
From Publishers Weekly: White Seed... hews closely to the record of Sir Walter Raleigh's second doomed attempt to plant the British flag in Virginia... The depiction of the colony's physical and moral disintegration between 1587 and 1590... evokes a harrowing sense of
human fallibility. Readers... will find this saga, which... soon achieves page-turner velocity, to be both a dandy diversion and an entertaining education.
Spring, 1587, Plymouth England…
Maggie knew that this old man would do to her what the other had—if he could get her alone. She stood on the deck of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship, the Lion, the afternoon sun burning through her simple gown of green linen, as she waited for her turn to be interviewed for a place in Raleigh’s New World Virginia Paradise. She had not eaten all day and the stench of garbage and pitch pine from the harbor threatened to make her retch. The old man, a sailor with a gray goat’s beard sprouting from his chin, sat at a table ten feet away, writing in a black
leather-bound ledger open before him.
Maggie Hagger, seventeen years of age, had long, red hair and a fair, pretty face flecked with freckles. The ship, although tightly tethered to the quay, moved slightly on a swell. Maggie took her eyes off the man to look up at the looping white of the furled sails as they moved
slightly across the blue vault of the sky. Like a graceful swan, this ship would take her far away to safety upon its downy back—if she got a contract of indenture! And get one she must—or hang!
“Next!” the old sailor said finally.
As Maggie approached, she looked to her left at twenty-five or so common people dressed in plain brown woolens and homespun, whose terms of indenture had already been purchased. They waited in the stark sunlight with their belongings in shabby bundles about their feet. On
the other side in the shade cast by stacks of wooden pens containing sheep and hens, about a dozen of the better sort, dressed in fine clothes and wearing hats of bright colors, talked softly. They were all watching Maggie expectantly.
He had an ugly voice like the bark of a dog, recalling to Maggie the bray of the man who had pursued her and Thomas halfway across England. She remembered their escape from the London warehouse in the blackness of night. They had crept along the slippery stones of the exposed banks of the Thames as a horrid, faceless man shouted after them, “Redheaded
whore! Wherever you go I will find you. Hear me! I will find you and you shall hang!” Maggie suspected that the man had had some connection to Thomas’s master.
Thomas, who was two or three behind Maggie in the line, called to her,
“Worry not, Maggie. We will soon be aboard.”
Maggie prayed that he was right. A fellow countryman, Thomas had been her traveling companion for much of the last year, but it was by chance and not choice. A dull looking, straw-haired lad of eighteen, Thomas stood out only by virtue of the jaunty fig-colored felt hat upon his head, its crown bulging up roundly like the crust on a newly baked pie.
The old sailor continued his scribbling and then looked up. “Step up, wench. Quickly!”
About Paul Clayton
Paul Clayton is the author of a three-book historical series on the Spanish Conquest of the Floridas-- Calling Crow, Flight of the Crow, and Calling Crow Nation (Putnam/Berkley), and a novel, Carl Melcher Goes to Vietnam (St. Martin's Press), based on his own experiences in
that war. Carl Melcher Goes to Vietnam was a finalist at the 2001 Frankfurt eBook Awards, along with works by Joyce Carol Oates (Faithless) and David McCullough (John Adams). Clayton's latest book-- White Seed: The Untold Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke-- is a work of historical fiction.
Interview with Paul Clayton
N.L.Earnshaw: What will readers like about your book?
Paul Clayton: I think the readers will like the verisimilitude, the period flourishes, the ‘touch’ of ‘olde’ English, the ‘social realism.’ At least I’m hoping they will. There is no magic for these people to rely upon, only their wits, their courage and the few friends they have in
their new ‘neighborhood.’ I’m confident that most women readers will appreciate these things. And I also know that many male readers like the book as well, especially the action sequences.
N.L.Earnshaw: Why did you self publish?
Paul Clayton: Although I’ve professionally (commercially) published four novels, publishing is in a state of disarray and has been for the last five years or so. Selling a book can take years. Once sold, as much as four years can pass before that book finds its way to the shelves. I simply cannot wait that long anymore.
N.L.Earnshaw: What is your writing process?
Paul Clayton: Like most writers, I have a day job and a family and a social life. I write when I can, mostly on the weekends, occasionally during lunch, sometimes late in the evenings.
N.L.Earnshaw: How long does it take you to write your first draft?
Paul Clayton: The first draft takes from six months to a year to write.
N.L.Earnshaw: What inspired you to write this particular story?
Paul Clayton: I read a little of the history and was hooked. What we do know of this story is based on the historical writings of the governor, John White, and his associates. But we don’t know the story of the ones left behind. With the help of the muses, and a study of what happened to later colonists at Jamestown, I have pieced it all together. ;)
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