It was dead of winter...
My inspiration came the day I visited Isaac's house in Slate Springs, Mississippi in 2007. It was dead of winter and, at the time, I was writing The Mississippi Boys, the manuscript almost finished. I gave my new book its title that day—Isaac's House. It had been hard for me to say goodbye to The Mississippi Boys, and it was settled, I didn't have to. I would write Isaac's House, and behind it, Joab.These are my people. Not the Paynes, for they are my fictional family. But the Clarks—T.G., Jonathan, Albert Henry, Isaac, Joab and Samuel Clark. T.G., Jonathan, and Albert Henry all died in the Battle of Gettysburg. Isaac joined the Confederate Army when he came of age and fought until the war ended. I'm still learning about Joab, and Samuel was my great-grandfather, only two years old when his father and brothers went to war.
I returned to Isaac's house in Slate Springs in July 2009. Standing on the old front porch that day, thoughts of this man—a Confederate who survived the Civil War, who came home to marry Jennie and raise a large family right where I was standing—revved the writer within me. Isaac's place is a most beautiful piece of Americana smothered by tall oaks, pine and magnolia. Sumac, ivy and morning glories grow inside and out. The tree with the roots exposed over the trail of a road is still standing.
The old house, collapsing now—once white clapboard with a green roof, and yes, even a dogtrot, in later years enclosed, yet identifiable as such—whispers a tale of an era of carpetbaggers and scalawags. I close my eyes, set my imagination free, and shine my fictional light directly on the history of my family, even now, evoking emotions of sorrow and joy. Sorrow for T.G., Jonathan, and Henry. Joy that Isaac lived to tell their story.
Jane Bennett Gaddy, Ph.D.