SONS OF THE EDISTO tells the story of a small town with a secret—many secrets that threaten to tear apart families in Bamberg, South Carolina. Thirteen-year-old Owen Alston investigates the Latin names for bugs and reads about modern mechanics in 1921. His best friend, JD Bannister, rather pick a fight over a girl. When Bamberg turns into a political battlefield, the boys discover the woods around the Edisto River will no longer hide the secrets of the Bamberg families. JD and Owen will risk their friendship and their lives for a new future.
My grandfather died when I was fourteen. As many grandchildren hope to do, I wanted to honor his memory. For years, I tried to think of a way to remember him. On a restless night, I turned on a light and went to my desk. I began writing what I thought would become a short story.
Sons of the Edisto – then Blue Sky – turned into a long-term commitment. The formation of the manuscript has not been without rewriting, critiques and the challenge of narration.
The story of Owen Alston and JD Bannister begins in 1921 when they are both thirteen. The second part of the book opens in 1924 when the Senatorial campaign begins. Bamberg’s mayor is running for the seat, and Owen and JD’s fathers are pulled into the campaign.
Sons of the Edisto is inspired by more than my grandfather. The history of the early twentieth century captured my attention while I attended the University of South Carolina. Political campaigns were often a show, bootleggers delivered moonshine to police officers and science made headway in schools.
Owen Alston, the main character, is influenced by the new age of science and transportation. He is a boy who longs for the future while JD Bannister longs for a past he never had; one in which his father showed him affection.
- The smokestack is all that remains of the mill in Bamberg, SC
The 1924 election in Sons of the Edisto is inspired by the race between Coleman Blease and then Rep. James Frances Byrnes. I wanted to write about a politician who would put on a show. How far would he go for power? What would he do to get every vote and block open support for his opponent? What would he do if his child and the children of his campaign men opposed him?
The research for Sons of the Edisto includes interviews with people in Bamberg and Orangeburg, South Carolina who grew up in the Great Depression and a few who were children in the Roaring Twenties. One of those interviews is the son of the Bamberg Ford dealership owner. The original Ford dealership in Bamberg closed before the Great Depression. Most of my research comes from the South Carolinana Library on the University of South Carolina campus. I have made trips to Bamberg throughout the now six-and-a-half year project.
I am grateful for the support my work from family, friends, writers, authors, editors, one or two agents and awesome supporters. I am now seeking representation for the book.
SONS OF THE EDISTO, RED LOAM AND PRESCRIPT
Sons of the Edisto is the heart of three manuscripts. Red Loam is a story collection that includes prose written about minor characters related to those in Sons of the Edisto. Two stories have been published. The Copperfield Review published Out with the Old in its Fall 2011 edition. Dew on the Kudzu published The Way Things Are in September 2011.
The PRESCRIPT includes seven back stories of the families in Sons of the Edisto. The families are available on the Sons of the Edisto Families page. I will write blog episodes based on the prescripts. The first The Family Owned is from The Bannister Histories.
Sons of the Edisto is the first of two books. I have begun research and writing for the sequel. The untitled second book will follow Andrew Bannister’s escape from prison as he forms a new gang and seeks out Owen, JD and their friends who stood against him. During the Great Depression, Evie tries to help those without jobs and meets JD again. Aurelia Jean waits to hear from Owen, who is working at a factory as a chemist in the North Carolina mountains.
This is an ever-growing list, but I would like to thank:
The University of Kent at Canterbury Creative Writing Society 2006-2007 for its constant support and faith in my work.
the South Carolinana Library in Columbia
Mrs. Nancy Rhodes of Bamberg
George Moye Dickinson, III (my father)
Painter Jim Harrison of Denmark
Author Hank Phillippi Ryan for her encouragement
Author and teacher Scarlet Thomas
Dew on the Kudzu
The Copperfield Review
the South Carolina Writers Workshop
If those reading have any questions or comments, please let me know.
- Friday Night Writes: Who is the Baby No One Wanted? (rebeccatdickinson.wordpress.com)
- The Bannisters: A New Beginning (rebeccatdickinson.wordpress.com)