It’s May 1653. When fourteen-year-old Freddy O’Brennan trusts the wrong stranger on an empty beach in western Ireland, she inadvertently places herself in the crosshairs of Cromwell’s notorious Reign of Terror.
Freddy awakens in the cramped hold of a slave ship bound for Barbados. Ripped from her loved ones, she endures a gruesome voyage and a vile auction. Freddy, sold to the highest bidder, alone, and far from her beloved homeland, faces the brutal realities of life as a female Irish slave on a seventeenth century Barbados sugar plantation. Amidst the island’s treacherous beauty, she must find a way to bear her cruel, drunken Master using her as a breeding slave and kitchen drudge.
Heartsick with yearning for her family and the farm life she knew, Freddy reaches deep inside herself for the strength she needs to protect her young spirit from being broken. As she struggles to survive rape, degradation, beatings, and the harrowing spectacle of her Irish countrymen being flogged and starved to death, the high-spirited Freddy risks severe punishment by sneaking food and medicine to the suffering field slaves. Eventually she braves more serious threats for the sake of loyal friendship and love.
SPIRITED AWAY – A NOVEL OF THE STOLEN IRISH is a 60,000-word historical novel that paints an intimate, compelling portrait of 1650s Irish slavery in the Caribbean.
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How is Writing In Your Genre Different from Others?
I feel that writing historical fiction is different than writing in other genres because to do it well, a ton of research is involved. It took me four full years to get this novel written. However, the reward for all of that research work is the chance to educate readers through an entertaining, enlightening story.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Do your homework. Educate yourself in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you just cannot grasp those things, hire a professional editor to polish your manuscript before self-publishing or submitting to agents/editors. Honor the English language by producing a high quality piece of writing.
Maggie Plummer is a writer and editor who lives in northwest Montana. Along the winding trail to becoming a novelist, she has worked as a journalist, book publicist, census enumerator, school bus driver, field interviewer, waitress, post office clerk, fish processor, library clerk, retail salesperson, Good Humor girl, fishing boat first mate, race horse hot walker, apple picker, and bus girl. Maggie is the author of “Passing It On: Voices from the Flathead Indian Reservation,” published in 2008 by Salish Kootenai College Press (Pablo, Montana). This is her first published novel.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A few years ago, I was reading about Irish history and stumbled across this information: During Oliver Cromwell’s Reign of Terror in the 1650s, a majority of Ireland’s Catholic population was either slaughtered, exiled to the west, or sold into slavery in the Caribbean. I did a triple-take, amazed. How could it be that I’d never heard of that? Others hadn’t either. The more I read about Cromwell’s Reign of Terror in books and Internet articles, the hotter my Irish-American blood boiled. These massacred, ousted, or enslaved people were my ancestors. I had to write something about this obscure yet pivotal period of Irish history.
That is how the novel’s main character, Freddy O’Brennan, came to be. With the exception of Cromwell, all of the characters in the novel are fictional. The story, however, is based on historical accounts of events that took place.
In 1649 Cromwell led an invasion of Ireland that many historians call genocide, or ethnic cleansing. During the 1650s, Ireland lost about 41 percent of its population. The infamous Irish Famine of 1845 to 1852, by comparison, resulted in a loss of 16 percent of the population.
Cromwell hated Catholicism and wanted to punish Irish Catholics for the rebellion of 1641. Catholicism was banned. Priests were wanted men. Irish Catholics were murdered, thrown off their land, or “spirited away” to the Caribbean. An estimated 100,000 Irish people, mostly women and children, were sold to sugar plantation owners and literally worked to death. Some were flogged to death. They toiled long days and suffered horrific conditions, disease, starvation, and torture.
“The curse of Cromwell upon you” is still a popular Irish saying. To this day, Irish mothers threaten their misbehaving children with the ultimate punishment: “Cromwell’s going to get you!” The bitterness caused by what took place during the 1650s has been a powerful source of Irish nationalism for more than 350 years.
Irish slavery was an atrocity that should not be forgotten. I find it outrageous that so few know about it. My hope is that this novel will help bring it to light. I have dedicated the novel to everyone who is combatting modern-day human trafficking.