A little bit about the making of my soon-to-be-published novel, Carrie Welton.
Anyone who grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut, as I did, is familiar with Carrie Welton’s name, mainly because of the presence of a large drinking fountain for horses, humans, birds and even cats and dogs (topped by a bronze statue of her beloved stallion, Knight) located at the east end of the Waterbury Green. Carrie left the money for that fountain in her will, and it stands today as a lasting testament to her good name and her love for animals (and possibly her dislike for her own father, who was said to have been kicked to death by Knight). So, yes, indeed, Carrie Welton, the subject of my soon-to-be-published novel, was a real person – and a real enigma. If you want to look hard enough, you can find a few surviving paragraphs regarding her early life, along with several hints at her intriguing personality. In contrast, much was written about her foolish death while climbing in the Rocky Mountains and, later, even more was reported about the disposition of her will, which was vigorously contested by family members.
But what about all those in-between years?
My aim in Carrie Welton has been to imagine – to completely make up – her life during the
25 or so years between her mid-teenage years and her death. The story is a blend of fact and fiction. The life I have given Carrie in Waterbury, New York, Boston, Saratoga Springs, the White Mountains and elsewhere – her words and actions – comes from my imagination rather than the written record. Some of the people I have put into her life, such as her own family members and the Kingsburys across the street, are based on real people, but the words they speak and the specific actions I ascribe to them are made up, or, as they say in Hollywood, dramatized. The same goes for the events in the book. Some, such as Jane Welton’s glorious Thanksgiving Ball at Rose Hill in Waterbury, are pure fiction; others, such as the cataclysmic Barnum Museum fire in Manhattan that I have Carrie witnessing, really did happen. I even took some actual events and twisted them to my purposes. Anderson’s portrait of Carrie, for instance, is real but it was painted after she died, not, as I have it, from life. I guess I was a bit like a chef rummaging through ingredients and existing recipes but mostly his own imagination to come up with something original and appetizing.
How did it turn out? You can decide for yourself when Carrie Welton is published in April.