The 'Novelization' of Those Who Lived

There's an often told tale around Franklin and Nashville that Carrie's McGavock's descendants are bitter & indignant over my 'novelized' version of her story. Truth is, no one has actually ever met one of her descendants who resents the book as I pretty much know them all and know how they feel. For the record there are some distant lateral cousins, particularly a Mormon branch, but not her descendants, who have (amusingly) taken personal offense at my portrayal. 

I tell all this because today I received the following letter from one of Mariah Otey Reddick's descendants who has retired to Panamá . Wonder what he will think when I finish The Book Of Mariah? 

Dear Mr. Hicks:
After conducting on-line genealogical research on and off for several years, about my mother’s family, I had reached a dead end. On a whim, I Googled my great grandmother’s name and her photo appeared. The caption and related information led me to your book, The Widow of the South.

Tears welled up as I discovered that my great grandmother, Mariah Otey Reddick, had been given as a wedding gift to Carrie Winder McGovack. That was on November 5, 2013, and I have continued my search since then. Of course, I immediately ordered your book and began to read it as soon as I arrived in the USA in mid-November from our home in the Panamá highlands, where my wife and I retired in 2004. 

I wish to express to you, Mr. Hicks, my and my family’s gratitude for the sensitive and multi-dimensional and even heroic way in which you novelized Mariah. Candidly, as I ordered the book, I wondered what a 21st Century white American male would imagine a 19th Century enslaved African woman in America would think; and how she would behave. You gave her a life independent of her “role” and, more importantly, an interior life of the mind as a key supporting character in the main story. Or, as one reviewer put it, Mariah was one of the “three main characters.” Your characterization was realistic, excellent and uplifting.

Again, I express on behalf of all of Mariah Reddick’s descendants, a deep appreciation and gratitude for the rare humanization of an enslaved person you fashioned in The Widow of the South.

W. K.