For the past few months, I’ve been posting teasers and giving hints about the upcoming anthology, The Thing That Turned Me, and my short story contribution to it.
Well, I’ll tell you! “The Disappearance of Miss Mary Dawkins” (quite a long title for a short story) is part of the backstory from my shelved-and-scrapped novel The Keegans of Banner’s Edge, which then got scraped up and reshaped into Pearl.
I have a long habit of giving my characters elaborate backstories. Super elaborate backstories.”Mary Dawkins” is an instance of that; I needed a mother for Miles Keegan’s white daughter and a reason why the mother isn’t in the picture anymore.
Alexandra Keegan’s parents tell her that her birth mother died in childbirth.
But she didn’t.
You’ll have to wait until May 31st to find what exactly happens, but suffice it to say Mary Dawkins is caught in a tough spot for 1793 Boston–she’s unmarried, she’s been involved with a few men, and she’s pregnant.
Pregnancy in itself is a huge turning point for women, physically, mentally, emotionally. But what happens when the pregnancy–this huge life event–is shadowed because it didn’t come about in the “right” way? What happens when the woman herself has no maternal instincts whatsoever–in a time and place where most women were just simply expected to have babies?
The story doesn’t overlap in any way with Pearl; it takes place years before. But it’s part of that world.
I think that story world probably has a few more stories in it, but those are for another time.