Stepping Back In Time: Real Life Inspiration for Fictional Twin Oaks Plantation
I love old homes, especially ones steeped in our country’s history. I’ve visited Williamsburg, Monticello, Mount Vernon, and Revolution-era homes in Charleston, and both Revolution and antebellum homes in Brattonsville, South Carolina. Each has its unique charm and history. Experiencing them evoked many ideas for stories, some contemporary and some based on their histories.
As I started writing my Ghosts of Roseville series, I (along with a few adventurous friends) journeyed to two plantations, including the Rattle and Snap Plantation located outside of Columbia, Tennessee. My purpose was research, as the series is set in a fictional haunted plantation, Twin Oaks, in Tennessee. I wanted to see for myself the construction techniques, to find out what the interior rooms were called, and how they were used. I wanted to be able to make the setting its own character in the story, so had to experience the ambiance of an antebellum plantation house. But I had not expected to be utterly swept away by the grand architecture and amazingly beautiful furnishings within the confines of the plantation home itself. Rattle and Snap is currently owned by Dr. Michael and Bobbi Kaslow, and they are working to continue the museum quality restoration of the property and its exhibits. They are doing a stellar job of it, too! Bobbi proved a delightful storyteller as well as historian of the plantation’s original owners, George and Sally Polk, along with the subsequent owners.
The first glimpse of the front entry to the 1840s antebellum home made my jaw drop as I gaped at the gorgeous setting even as I tried to imagine arriving in a carriage pulled by horses instead of horsepower. Bobbi started the tour by sitting us all down for a quick history lesson. We were seated on the back porch in comfortable chairs while she regaled us with the origins of the land grant that eventually included the Rattle and Snap plantation. Apparently, William Polk, George’s father, played a game of chance with his brother-in-law who happened to be the governor of North Carolina. The game of Rattle and Snap involved shaking beans (the rattle part of the game) and then tossing them with a “snap” of the wrist, so something like a dice game, though the specific rules apparently have been lost to history.
The Polks were very wealthy, as evidenced by the inclusion of 10 columns, which Bobbi revealed equaled in cost what the rest of the house cost ($42,000 in the 1840s, or approximately $2.2 million today). The Polks definitely enjoyed living in their home and entertaining guests, and they did both in a grand fashion!
While the outside of the plantation is stunning, the inside far surpassed the exterior. Each room features representative period furniture along with a few pieces that remained in the Polk family after the Civil War devastated their financial situation. Walking among the beautiful furniture, seeing the portraits and landscapes hanging on the walls, and browsing the collectibles resting on shelves and tables, all combined to create a sense of having traveled back in time. I could picture the hoop skirted ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finery, perhaps with a saber hanging in its scabbard. I think that’s why I enjoy exploring old historic buildings, for the spark to my imagination that results. As you read Traces and Remnants (Books 1 and 2 of the Ghosts of Roseville series), I hope you’ll spot hints of my experience at the actual plantation in the fictional Twin Oaks.
Do you like touring historic homes? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite home you liked more than the others?
Ghosts of Roseville
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Date of Publication: October 27, 2014
Number of pages: 331
Word Count: 70,800
Cover Artist: Lyn Taylor
Paulette O’Connell is focused on building her costume and home decorating business in order to ensure a stable home for her unborn child. When she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost, he demands she needed him and must learn the reason before he’ll reveal how to banish him. Meanwhile, a sexy chemist desires her attention despite her refusal to act upon her heart’s desires. After all, following her heart only lands her in trouble.
Zak Markel journeys to Roseville in the desperate hunt for the missing ingredient for the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight and career. But he discovers more than he bargained for when his search turns up the gorgeous woman of his dreams, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.
Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?
Paulette’s attention fixed upon a black, flat-topped trunk with silver hinges and hasp. It hunkered in front of the mannequin as though daring her to approach. She straightened her back, one hand automatically shielding her unborn baby, and made her way across the room until she stopped before the ebony container. She shook off her reluctance to touch it, since she needed to move it to reach the dummy. Grasping the handles, she pulled, but it didn’t budge. She tugged again but barely succeeded in shifting it an inch. What weighed so much in such a small trunk? Leaning down, she slowly raised the hasp and then the lid until the meager illumination in the room enabled her to peek inside.
She lifted a packet of newspapers tied together with a satin ribbon. Peering closer, she determined they dated from the 1940s. Not ancient, after all. Not like the letters and journals from the mid-1800s found in other trunks. Still, old enough. Beneath the papers, a large maroon leather book nestled among men’s suits and trousers. She spotted an aged white cravat and matching formal shirt, fingering the silky material with delight. Silks and satins speared delight through her soul. Their textures and sounds blended into a symphony of pleasure. She grabbed the heavy book and hauled it from its nesting place, intent on reaching the luxurious fabrics.
The leather warmed in her hands as she focused on the decadent silk cravat. Searching for a safe place to deposit the book among the dusty boxes and trunks, her fingers tingled then began to burn as though touching a flame. Ouch. She jerked her hands apart then tried to catch the book before it dropped from her hands. When it collided with the hardwood floor, it fell open, its pages fluttering before settling on an illuminated text. The ornate drawing of a great horned owl poised to strike, beak open, talons ready to snare its prey, curled around fancy script words. She peered at the sheet, reluctant to touch the page after the previous singeing of her fingers, but curious as to the mysterious message. She read the poem silently, and then sounded it out loud, pondering the meaning.
“Before the father came the father.
“Return the one gone before.
“Restore the bygone to the present.
“This I ask and nothing more.”
“How strange.” She gingerly reached to retrieve the book and restore it to its proper place.
With a roar of wind, the door banged shut behind her, startling a gasp from her compressed lips. The pages fluttered and whipped. The packet of newspapers soared into the air, its ribbon untying in the chaos, allowing the sheets to fly around like crazed paper airplanes. Her jaw dropped open, a gasp followed by a woman keening in fear. Her voice. Stop it. Get a grip. She swallowed the growing terror. She whirled around, practically spinning like a ceiling fan on high as she tried to determine what caused the wind careening about the room. An eerie whine preceded what sounded like a wolf howling to the moon. She gulped, alarm sizzling down her spine. Grizabella arched her back, and hissed at the commotion, ears flat, tail pointed to the ceiling. Paulette exhaled, her breath visible in the chilled room. She crossed her arms both to warm them and to protect her child.
Quiet fell along with the papers settling like oversized snowflakes. She blinked three times, trying to erase the sight before her. But blinking didn’t work. She gaped at the tall, gray-bearded man in his impeccable suit and angled fedora. Gray highlighted his close-cropped black hair and matched his friendly eyes. He seemed vaguely familiar, yet she had never met him. Of that, she was certain. She’d remember him.
“What a surprise.” He reached toward her, palms up. “How can I help you, my dear?”
“Stay there.” She held out a hand, palm facing him, and backed up until her legs bumped against the open trunk.
Trapped, she had no escape but to move past the man. Or apparition. Or whatever. She swallowed the fear threatening to make itself known. Perhaps she should yell for Meredith. She would know what to do with this specter. So much for the ghosts of Twin Oaks resting peacefully. If only she’d never realized she could interact with spirits.
“Paulette, my precious, you needn’t fear your own grandfather.” He moved toward her, reaching for her.
“No.” Shaking her head, she held up both hands indicating for him to stay back. Then motioned for him to leave, shooing him as if he could fly away. Or dissolve into thin air. Which, of course, he probably could. “Whoever you are, you don’t belong here. Go away.”
Grizabella growled and hissed from her spot near the wall. Hairs along her spine stood straight, revealing the depth of her dislike of the man’s presence.
“I was content where I was.”
“Then why did you come here? Wh-what do you want?” Paulette shivered and wrapped her arms about her waist to still their trembling. The move left her feeling more vulnerable by removing the sense of a barrier between her and the apparition.
He tilted his head and smiled, dropping one hand to his side. “More to the point, what do you want? You summoned me.”
“If I did, it was an accident.” He must understand she had not meant to bring him from wherever he’d come from. Why did crap like this happen to her? Nothing in her life ever transpired as she intended. “Please, you must leave. You don’t belong here.”
“Now, that’s not true. I belong here more than you do, even. So let’s get acquainted, shall we? Then you can tell me why you called for me.”
When he started toward her, she screamed, her hands shielding her baby.
About the Author:
Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master’s in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild.
Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com
November 3 Interview
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
November 4 Guest blog and review
Dark Side of Romance
November 4 Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!
November 5 Interview
November 5 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books
November 6 Guest blog
November 6 Spotlight
Peyton Brittany Clarke
November 7 Interview
One Curvy Blogger
November 7 Spotlight
Coffee Addicts Books
November 10 Guest blog
November 10 Spotlight
Cassandra M's Place