Wealth and Privilege
by Jeanette Watts
Money. Family. Love. Hate. Obsession. Duty. Politics. Religion - or the lack thereof. Sex -- or, once again, the lack thereof.
Thomas Baldwin finds himself married to a woman he can’t stand, while head-over heels in love with another woman he can’t have. Talk about bad planning. He feels like a kite, buffeted by circumstances which blow him not only through personal crises, but also through some of the most significant events in Pittsburgh during the late 1800s, including the railroad riots of 1877, the creation of the Homestead Steel Works, the assassination of President Garfield, and the Johnstown Flood. Over time, and with the help of his muse, who dances maddeningly just beyond his reach, he takes control of his life, wresting it from the winds attempting to control him.
A carefully-researched historical novel about life among the privileged class of Pittsburgh during the Industrial Revolution.
A soft rumble of thunder sounded in the distance, and they both groaned.
“Just what we need,” Thomas observed. “More water.”
“Well, I suppose thunder doesn’t necessarily mean more rain,” Regina answered hopefully.
It was an odd sort of thunder. It took Thomas a moment to realize why. Then it occurred to him that it was continuous, and getting louder, instead of fading away.
A strange black fog began to drift through the air. They froze, staring at each other, listening. The rumble increased like – what? It was a cross between an oncoming train, and – and – Thomas imagined this must be what an avalanche must sound like.
Then he knew what was going on. The South Fork dam had broken!
Before he could share his insight, Regina’s face changed. She stared up Clinton Street, mouth open, eyes wide with horror. She pointed, incoherent noises issuing from her throat. Thomas turned, and nearly fell off their precarious little raft.
The source of the crashing rumble was a towering wall of debris moving toward them. A misty black cloud hung in the air, occasionally obscuring the horrific sight. A writhing mass of tree roots, rooftops, planks, railroad pieces and other metal parts tumbled over and over upon itself.
The rumble had clarified into a roar of screaming and crashing as the rapidly approaching behemoth rolled toward them. They couldn’t outrun it, either on or off their little craft. Regina pointed to the nearest building. The brick corners were coined, laid unevenly enough to make a decent ladder. Thomas understood without a word. They poled their way across the watery distance, desperation giving them strength and speed.
Finding Your Voice: Writing in First Person (or Third) - why you chose your POV
First Person vs. Third Person. It hadn’t even occurred to me to write Wealth and Privilege in the First Person. Maybe part of it was because my protagonist is male, and for a female to write a male character, I needed the greater distance that comes from Third Person. Maybe it was because the book with the biggest influence on Wealth and Privilege is Gone With the Wind, which is told in the Third Person. There are some key scenes that take place from the perspective of someone besides my hero Thomas; I’m not sure how I would have pulled it off if I had limited myself to his voice, only. I also think First Person seems too contemporary when telling a historical tale. Henry James and Edith Wharton and George Eliot were writing in the Third Person. Now I say that as a fan of Philippa Gregory, who almost always writes in First Person, so it’s obviously not some sort of hard and fast rule. But it works for me.
I do feel like First Person is more and more fashionable these days. I did wonder at one point while I was looking for an agent whether I needed to change the “voice” and rewrite my book in First Person. But there wasn’t a single agent or editor or publisher who seemed to think that the POV made a difference. So I didn’t rewrite it. After all, Harry Potter is written in Third Person!
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AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jeanette Watts has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing.
When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.