When I lived in Boston, for the first few years, practically everyday, I would walk past the site of the Boston Massacre, or at the very least, the gravestone commemorating it in the Granary. As a child, that event had always fascinated me. The insanity that takes over from individual thinking to mob thinking which seemed to have happened on March 5, 1770.
I wanted to emphasize that type of insanity in my novel IN THE NICK OF TIME. The hatred that had been building up between the British and the Colonists: how both sides had been feeling frustrated and exploited.
I wanted to put Andy in the middle of that, and by the same token, have Andy struggle with deciphering where he was and what year it was.
Here is an excerpt from IN THE NICK OF TIME after Andy meets Samuel Maverick and they walk over to the Customs House where a mob is gathering.
“I told you something was up!” Samuel said. “We're going to show these...!” A bell drowned out his last word. He grabbed Andy and moved up through the ranks of the crowd toward the front. “You lobster scum! Go home!”
“Stop grabbing me!” Andy said. Something was wrong here. He could feel it.
Grandma Geri always encouraged him when he had those feelings. ‘Trust your gut’ was her crude but accurate description. “Andy,” she’d say, “There are energy forces in this earth that we cannot see, but they are here. They help us, not hurt us. So when you feel your gut telling you that something is weird, or off, or something unexpected is about to happen, Listen to it! Remember Andy: ‘there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'”
She smiled. “That's Shakespeare, not me.”
A voice from the back yelled out. “That's the son of a dog that knocked me down!”
Andy turned and saw a blond haired boy with a huge torch standing on top of some stairs and pointing at a British soldier. He held a snowball, and hurled it at the soldiers. It hit the wall over their heads. The ball exploded and two sharp rocks fell out it and landed on the ground.
“Load your muskets, but do not fire,” Preston said. The other soldiers begrudgingly did what they were told. “I repeat, do not fire unless I say so.”
“I'd like to kill the whole lot of them,” one soldier said.
“Go ahead!” said one woman who overheard the exchange. “I dare you!”
Samuel joined in. “Yeah, go ahead, I dare you. Fire! I dare you! You lazy cowards!” He scooped up a clump of snow, made a ball and hit a soldier right in the face.
The crowd of men and boys and those few women grew bigger. Louder. They edged closer to the small group of soldiers. Andy felt the people pressing and knew this crowd could easily overtake the small band of militia.
“Go ahead, I dare you! Fire!”
“Fire, though you dare not!”
“You lobster scoundrels! You rascals!”
The colonists seethed. Their courage increased for they had had enough. Enough badgering and enough bullying. They too were cold and tired and hungry. But above all, they hated. They hated these British people who bossed them around. They hated these British rules and these British blockades. They couldn’t see anything else but that hatred. Some had clubs and pieces of wood. A group of boys threw more snowballs.
“Steady men, I say, keep an eye on them and don't fire!” warned Preston. “We'll see how far this will go. They may just get tired and go home. Don't talk back to them. Don't encourage them.”
Andy watched as more boys gathered and pitched the rock- laden snowballs.
I've seen this before. In history class. Snowballs.. snow and crowds and...
His stomach lurched. He knew what this was! It was 1770. This was the Boston Massacre.
Andy grabbed Samuel's arm and pulled him hard. “Get out of here. You have to get out of here. This is dangerous. They're going to start shooting!” he screamed.
“Don't be an ass! They're not going to do anything,” Samuel pushed back. “I dare you!” He joined the crowd in their taunts. “I dare you! Fire! Go ahead, Fire!” He threw a brick, and then more snowballs with rocks in them. “Fire!”
IN THE NICK OF TIME is now available in your local bookstore and library.