Northshore Magazine

April 2015

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 172 of 204

170 and, ultimately, three novels, with a fourth likely on the way. She wanted her books to be about 18th-century women and power. "Women in 18th-century America played a bigger role than history books would have us believe," notes the author. In fact, the only image of an 18th-century woman she could recall from her high school studies was the murder of Jane McCrea—an English woman who was scalped on the eve of the Battle of Saratoga. Disappointed, she set her keys to pounding out a different story. "We have this image of Colonial women being devoted to hearth and home, instead of being sophisticated, fash- ionable, interesting, literary women. I thought there had to have been lots of other fascinating women." In writing her books, she usually starts with a historical character that interests her, like Lydia Bar- rington Darragh—a Quaker who delivered important intelligence during the revolution, and was the inspiration for the heroine of The Turncoat. "I thought: This is a woman we should know about," says Thorland. Likewise, her latest protagonist is loosely based on the character of Mercy Otis War- ren, who wrote plays that prob- ably got her on the British hanging list. "She's our own New England heroine," says Thorland, "and you generally don't read about her in our textbooks." Mercy Otis Warren owned a needlepoint-embroidered card table, which is indicative of the kind of woman she was. "Rather than being the drab hearth-and-home housewife, Mercy Otis Warren was a seditious playwright who gambled— she liked her cards," says Thorland. The writer constantly refers to her books as "swashbucklers." Her influ- ences include the many works of Rafael Sabatini, whose novel Captain Blood was made into "the perfect Hollywood swashbuckler." She also admires Scottish historical novelist Dorothy Dunnett, whom she credits with developing "the 21st-century swashbucklers, grown up," by adding psychological complexity and action scenes. "I really wanted to be able to write an American swashbuckler set during the American Revolution that would return some of the excitement and danger to it," explains Thorland, noting, "it is taught in schools as a very sanitized event where the out- come is preordained, and it certainly wasn't like that." The second of her books, The Rebel Pirate, is set in Salem. "Salem is a really layered city," she says. "You can't stop peeling it back and finding new things about it." As a resident of Witch City, Thorland enjoyed walking the streets to see firsthand where events in the book took place. Always intrigued by the idea that all the houses on Federal Street used to back onto the North River, she writes of their sloping lawns with docks at the bottom, which were effectively smugglers' docks. "I always thought it was

Articles in this issue

view archives of Northshore Magazine - April 2015