The Creative Cafe
Published in

The Creative Cafe

When Fiction Bites Back

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

Fiction is fickle. As a writer, the idea may start in your head, but soon the story takes over. The characters you develop come into their own and begin to lead the way. And sometimes, sometimes, reality seeps in. When it does, all bets are off.

I set out to write a lighthearted romantic mystery. I think I succeeded. Until reality snuck in. Research is essential to telling a good tale. Of course, when researching one might come across unexpected finds. History is full of those. And now my novel is as well.

Execution Rocks sits alone in the Long Island Sound. The lighthouse built there to be a beacon for ships passing in the night. You might ask, why is it called Execution Rocks? Good question. Growing up, I wondered that myself. I had heard stories. Colonial prisoners chained to the rocks and left to die by the British. Ships in the night, pre-lighthouse, crashing into the rocks, sinking. Pirates hanging mutinous crews. Prohibitionists and the mob running booze and taking out their enemies.

So I dug. I googled. I read up on it. And found the most intriguing, disturbing, and quite horrifying theory. That local slave owners were chaining slaves to the rocks to punish them. Stunned, because this was the North, land of the free. The idea that the shores of Long Island were littered with slave-owners?

And suddenly my tale had spun itself out of control and morphed into something entirely new. I had to tell the story. Regardless of how it turned out this was adding a new dimension to my own story as well as history itself. I’ve realized of course my knowledge of history is, by the very nature of our society, very one-sided. White privilege doesn’t even begin to cover the tragic results of white education. Discovering the other side of history? I grew up proud to be a Yankee not a Reb… the civil war was North/South, wasn’t it? The electoral college was about fairness, wasn’t it? Clearly, we know now, it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

The more I learned, the more I wrote, the more my perspective changed, along with my book. It’s still a romantic mystery, it’s still fairly light and easy to read, but the tale it tells hopefully will leave readers with their own quest for truth, about themselves, their history, and the way forward.




Unlocking creativity through community. Dedicated to supporting and fostering the creative writing community. This is a place for compulsive creators, their work, and their stories. Prompts twice a month and stories published every day(ish). Brought to you by Likewise.

Recommended from Medium

The Two Essential Principles for Creating Worthy Characters

Want to Find Major Success on Medium? Just Make This Next Sharp Left

Thank You For Your Kindness

Are Medium Bonuses Here To Stay?

Writing badly is better…

The Medium Homepage Got a Face-lift!

The Secrets of Fierce Erotic Intelligence: Why We Are All Searching for Persephone

Why Emily Dickinson is the mentor I never had (learn about me, connections, follow for follow)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
MJ Miller

MJ Miller

Teller of Tales ׀ Author ׀ Lifelong Dreamer

More from Medium

When Ballplayers Had Off-Season Jobs

How Excessive Urine Ruined My First Pride Parade

Notorious W.I.C.C.A

Pahar Ganj and the Tarot Woman