Thursday, 19 July 2012

Author Spotlight - Sophie Cuffe talks about finding Inspiration.

While touring The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home) in Nashville a few years ago, I inadvertently whacked my head into the Plexiglas room divider. (In my own defense, at the Roosevelt Cottage on Campobello Island, there's no Plexiglas so you can stick your head into the rooms for a better view.) It is, indeed, a mansion, in my humble Yankee rural root opinion.

I'd noticed all these little outbuildings in the fields on the way there, and learned they were slave quarters - totally blew my mind to see the living proof I'd only read about in the classroom. I remember feeling shame that any person could think they had the right to own another human being, yet over 150 slaves worked on the Jackson property alone.

There's a story printed there, and I can't do it justice because I don't remember the specifics that well, about a foreign visitor to the Hermitage questioning Alfred, Andrew Jackson's personal slave. The visitor pointed out how good Alfred had it - a kind master, a roof over his head, food to eat, clothes to wear, etc, so what was all the fuss about slavery anyway. To which Alfred responded, "Would you like to trade places, sir?"

I think that's why I identify with Rachel Hawksley in THE SEEKERS. The concept of slavery is so repulsive to her, she keeps trying to help "the help" and, in doing so, realizes she can cause more harm than good. I like the scene where she asks if she can make some taffy for the children, and the cook says, "You cookin' in this kitchen? No white woman's ever cooked in here, leastways not since I been livin'. Not in my kitchen, no how, and I'm not sure how Missus Dawson would take it."

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