word craft


Story Behind the Story #7:
Encounter at Easton

At the end of my book, Night Jour­neys, the two run­away inden­tured ser­vants, Eliz­a­beth Mawes and Robert Linnly, man­age to escape, and flee north. True, Eliz­a­beth was wound­ed, but she was free, and the pro­tag­o­nist of the book, young Peter York, comes to an under­stand­ing with his mas­ter, the pious Quak­er Mr. Shinn.

But then some­thing hap­pened in my head once the book had been com­plet­ed: I began to wor­ry about the fate of those two young peo­ple. Were they tru­ly free? Did Eliz­a­beth sur­vive her wound? Where did they go?

Easton, PAIn short, I had cre­at­ed fic­tion­al char­ac­ters who had become so real to me that I want­ed to know what hap­pened to them. I even did some research about the area to which they pre­sump­tive­ly would have fled, Eas­t­on, Penn­syl­va­nia. In so doing I learned about an out­cast woman who, in Colo­nial times, lived in a cave in the woods near Euston.

I am not one who dreams much, or at least, I don’t remem­ber my dreams very well. Nonethe­less, one night at that time I had a dream which, as it were, informed me what had hap­pened to my young char­ac­ters in Night Jour­neys. That is to say, I dreamed the whole plot of Encounter at Eas­t­on.

Encounter at EastonWith that gift in hand (and mind) I wrote the book. It is the only time I have ever dreamed a book.

One curi­ous aspect of the book’s pub­li­ca­tion was that from the time I first start­ed to write it, until I had the pub­lished book in my hand, it took only eleven months. Nev­er before or since have I pub­lished a book so quick­ly. The nor­mal pub­li­ca­tion time is at least twice that length.

Anoth­er odd thing about the book: When it was done, I real­ized that the boy in the sto­ry, Robert Linnly, could have eas­i­ly become the main char­ac­ter in an ear­li­er book, Cap­tain Grey. All that was required was to make a few changes in Cap­tain Grey when that book was reprint­ed. Thus I cre­at­ed a series of four books, but, alas, I nev­er wrote what should be book num­ber three.

That’s the trou­ble with dreams: you wake up.

Encounter at Eas­t­on went on to win the Christo­pher Award for that year.

2 thoughts on “Story Behind the Story #7:<br><em>Encounter at Easton</em>”

  1. My son went to col­lege there, so I know the place. I must read this. I need to put read­ing all of your works I have not yet read for my New Year’s plan. I mean that sin­cere­ly. Please keep writ­ing and dream­ing when you can. I love this sto­ry. My read­ing life is a lit­tle bar­ren of late, I read, but not as vora­cious­ly as in the past. In time I will return to that love. Just got a Kin­dle for keep­ing in my purse so I can always read, but I pre­fer books and am not sure I can do audio books. I might tune out and that is anoth­er sto­ry hav­ing had a musi­cian father who played and taught in my house and I have great hear­ing, but also can eas­i­ly tune things out so I can “think”.….mixed bless­ings. Con­grat­u­la­tions on the Christo­pher Award. That is a very mean­ing­ful one to me.


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