Last year for my annual novella, I wrote about the beginning of the period of the Third Viscount Lipton, starting a saga in media res, where the middle-aged Viscount, newly installed with the title after the death of his elderly grandfather, finds a wife and finds his footing in an England immediately after the end of the American Revolution. The novel was an enjoyable one to write, and it left me with quite a lot of angles to continue the series. Two follow-ups to the series have come to mind over the last few months as I have thought about the series and where it should be going.
The first of these ideas that came to mind was a prequel whose rough outlines were made clear by the initial novella itself. We take a step back about a year or year-and-a-half or so to where the American Revolution is still going on, and the still-not Viscount has found himself called upon to serve as a defense counsel for a young free black man who is accused of murder in British-occupied Ninety-Six, South Carolina when he had merely engaged in self-defense. While our hero is conducting a defense in difficult circumstances, made all the more difficult by the failure of the British effort in the South in the period after Yorktown, the British have lost control of Florida in the face of a little-known Spanish invasion of the area, and it so happens that shortly after our hero’s mother and stepfather marry, the stepfather is chosen to be the Lieutenant Governor of New Providence (contemporary Bahamas) after the previous occupant of the office was found to be engaging in a smuggling trade with American privateers and blockade runners, leading him to be put on trial in an understandably upset England. The two trials go on in parallel with each other, leading to a dramatic conclusion.
The second idea that came to mind jumps ahead a bit less than a decade to the early stages of the French Revolution, where the Viscount and his wife have a happy and growing family, and their ward, our hero’s cousin and foster daughter has come of age. After her official presentation she meets and is wooed by a young French refugee émigré who is an officer in the British anti-revolutionary army, and this courtship involves dealing with the difference between English and French ways, the young officer being in danger as part of the British expeditionary force fighting against French forces (including a young Napoleon) in an unsuccessful attack on Toulon, France, as well as the understandable but not excessive protectiveness of the Viscount towards his ward, though with a happy and well-deserved ending for all involved.
While I do plan on writing both of these stories, as well as others in the series, going back to the beginning of the family’s fortunes where their involvement in India brings the family considerable glory and position, and moving forward as well in history, these two stories I think are the most obvious ones to consolidate the progress of the family and to demonstrate the interaction between the Viscount and the revolutionary world he has found himself involved in despite his best efforts. I was curious to see which of these stories my dear readers would prefer to read first, seeing as this is a yearly sort of tradition and some time gap will exist between the telling of various parts of the larger saga, obviously.