Seven years ago, I started out to tell a love story featuring two of America's most notable childhood sweethearts, Tom and Becky. What I imagined to be a simple enough story turned into a expedition with many twists and turns--wandering, exploring, discovering, with lots of crying and laughing and pulling my hair out when I struggled to put on the page what was in my heart. As I reach the end, I can say without reservation it has been one of the most exciting and fulfilling journeys I've ever taken, and I don't regret one minute of it. I learned a lot about writing and about myself while working on this book. I hope I've done Tom and Becky proud. However its received, I've done the best I can do. That's all we can ever do, right?
In the Afterword of the original Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain wrote:
Some day it may seem worthwhile to take up the story of the younger ones again and see what sort of men and women they turned out to be.
The great author never did revisit his characters as adults. As I read and re-read these books over the years, I couldn't stop asking, what happened? I would not be satisfied until I had an answer.
Tom Sawyer Returns picks up more than a decade after we left him as a carefree lad in a sleepy town on the Mississippi River. It made sense that Tom would eventually leave to seek adventures. History provided a desperate event that would bring him home, determined to be a hero.
Numerous incidents in Tom Sawyer Returns are based on historical reports, one of which alludes to a shadowy conspiracy by Confederate sympathizers to seize control of the Mississippi River.
Put Tom in the middle of a deadly scheme, having to solve a mystery without crucial memories, and you have an exciting plot. But a love story requires more.
In Twain’s book, the character of Becky Thatcher fits the traditional stereotype of the Victorian female: beautiful, helpless, idealized...quite frankly, boring. I wondered, what would a girl like that do when faced with adversity if she were made of more than fluff?
The Becky Thatcher who sprang to life on these pages surprised me with her cleverness, compassion, courage and sense of adventure. She’d shown something of her spunk in choosing Tom in the first place, and seeing her develop into a multi-faceted, independent woman, was pure delight.
You'll meet other characters featured in Twain's stories, such as Tom's half-brother Sid, Becky's cousin Jeff, Judge Thatcher, Tom's former girlfriend Amy Lawrence, and Alfred Temple, who is still competing with Tom for Becky's affections. They all had bit parts in Twain's original tale. I thoroughly enjoyed expanding on these secondary characters, delving into backstories, and exploring their relationships with Tom and Becky.
See more sneak peek info on my blog and website: www. eeburke.com