The Mystery of Mary Boland

People often ask where my characters in Shanty Gold came from. You know, how did I ever dream them up?


The answer varies some. Today, I’ll tell you about my protagonist—Mary Boland. That was the name I heard from childhood of the girl who would become my great, great grandmother. My mother and aunts buzzed her name with an almost mystical tone.


We knew she had come over from Ireland at some point, but that was about it. I was curious about her.


So she came to me. In dreams, waking and sleeping. She was young and tall. Thin and pretty. She had long, red, curly hair which flamed behind her when she rode her horse along the Irish Sea Coast. “Tell my story,” she whispered.


Trips to Ireland turned up no information on Mary, so I let her drive my fingers at the computer as I wove her tale into Shanty Gold. I think she’ll like what I did with her life. I hope you will, too.


Next time, I’ll tell you about Kamua Okafor (Kam), her soul brother, the African slave boy whom she met on the coffin ship.