Have you ever thought about reading a sweeping work of fiction about the Haitian Revolution? Dr. Gesulla Cavanaugh did just that with her novel Counts of the Majestic, which she published through Amazon. Let’s get an overview of how the book came about, and what the creative process was like for the author.
Kreyolicious: Did you ever fantasize about being an author when you were little?
Definitely. When I was about twelve, my friends and I were reading a lot of books. Some were Harlequin. Then one day, one of them said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be a writer and for people all over the world to read our stories too?” And I thought in a dreamy way about how nice this would be, to be an author, and to be read all over the world in different times, different centuries.
Kreyolicious: Was writing and reading something your parents encouraged?
Gesulla Cavanaugh: My mother mainly encouraged me to become a physician; in fact, when I said I wanted to enroll in writing courses she thought I was insane. My dad, on the other hand, encouraged the creative side of me as much as he could.
Kreyolicious: How long did it take you to complete the novel?
Gesulla Cavanaugh: It took me about 4 years to complete the novel. The first year included doing research on historic facts about Haiti.
Kreyolicious: Were there times when you wanted to just throw your hands up and call it a day?
Gesulla Cavanaugh: Once I started writing, I just wanted that story to see the light and to be read. I wanted to be fair to the story and there was never a time that I wanted to give up.
Kreyolicious: What kept you going?
Gesulla Cavanaugh: I believe in finishing what I start, whether the end outcome would be disappointing. Because if I don’t finish, I become disappointed of myself and feel unfair to whatever task I was trying to accomplish. Nonetheless, having people learn about that side of Haiti kept my motivation going.
Kreyolicious: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice came pretty close to being called First Impressions. At any stage of your writing, did you think of calling Majestic something other than what it is now?
Gesulla Cavanaugh: Counts of the Majestic was first Count, Count, Counted, as there was a scene I wanted in there, of the main character being judged in a court of law of some sort.
Kreyolicious: Why did you choose to set your book during this period?
Gesulla Cavanaugh: As many know, Haiti struggles with disunity, and the mentality of ‘chak koukouy klere pou je l‘” [Every person for himself]. I wanted to attempt to find the root of that mentality which continues to destroy almost everything we build. We come together, but we’re not together. We’re Negroes, mulattoes, whites, etc, and around all this, we don’t want to be seen as a unit, we are “I, me”. Rarely “We, us”. I wanted to address that, and I wanted to go to the beginning when we gained freedom from France and infused that lack of union right after we fought together, to show how unjustifiable it is for us to continue with that saying.
Kreyolicious: What would you say to those who are contemplating writing a historical novel…
Gesulla Cavanaugh: A historical novel is so powerful; it is forever memorable and reveals a lot of truths about the present as much as the past. A historical novel has a lot of impact on change. It’s a binocular into the past. Zoom in! Do it!
CLICK HERE to purchase Haitian Revolution novel Counts of the Majestic on Amazon.