I am so excited to share with you guys this guest post from Ian! It gives you some insight into the book I have been reading and I just think you might love it as much as I have come to. Alright let’s get into it! 😀
Liverpool and the American Civil War
It was only when I began research for Scouse Gothic that I realised Liverpool’s key role in the American Civil War. When the war began in 1861, the majority of Liverpool’s trade was cotton, and the majority of the cotton was supplied by the Southern states. Although Britain was officially neutral, a large proportion of the cotton traders had Confederate allegiances. However, as most public sympathy was with the Unionists cause, they decided to secretly support the South.
Weapons were made in the city’s workshops and foundries, and smuggled across the Atlantic in high speed paddle-steamers, the ‘blockade runners’. Their return journeys bringing cotton and Confederate gold. The Confederate Government then sent agents to Liverpool to control the supply of arms and to arrange for the building of warships, hoping to break the blockade of their ports. Although British neutrality should have made this impossible, a loop hole allowed the ships to be built unarmed and classified as merchant ships, rather than warships. One such ship was the Oreto, which was later renamed and became a famous Confederate raider, the CSS Florida. It was this ship that formed the background for Melville’s story.
(The painting of the CSS Florida hangs in the Merseyside Maritime Museum on Albert Dock. )
The more I researched, the more connections I found. The base for the Confederate agents in the city still exists in Rumford Place, its courtyard still cobbled as it would have been in 1862, although it is now home to a different type of agent, an Estate Agents. And the home of the Confederate banker, Prioleau, who financed the building of the warships is still in Abercromby Square, now part of the University of Liverpool. It was later home to the Chavasse family who also play a part in the book.
(Rumford Place. Home to Confederate agents in 1862 and Estate agents today)
As I walked around the city, I kept noticing dates on the buildings and found myself automatically thinking, ‘Melville could have lived here – or drunk here, or in the case of St Peter’s Church – prayed here’. The church is now a bar, and so it seemed only natural for him to return there, and it’s here that he meets another vampire, Sheryl Malone.
(St. Peter’s Church today, a restaurant called Alma De Cuba. It’s where Melville meets another Vampire.)
I always find it important to set my books in real places. When I’m trying to work out a character’s motivation it helps if I can be in his or her shoes, walk where they walk, and see what they can see. Often, I’ll get a completely different perspective on a scene just by standing in the exact spot, at exactly the same time of day and listening to what my character would hear and seeing what they would see.
When I was writing the book, I became aware that the city had become a major part of the story, and was as much a character as Melville, Lathom or even Sheryl. Liverpool, like all my characters, is imperfect, neither good nor bad – and often funny.
Carl Jung had once called Liverpool ‘The Pool of Life’ and as it was a book about the undead I had initially intended to call it: ‘The Pool of Life…and Death.’ However, although locals would appreciate the pun it would mean little to anyone outside of the city. I decided that the title of the book needed to convey the playfulness and irreverence of the city, and so that became the sub-title.
Liverpudlian’s are often referred to as ‘Scousers’, sometimes with affection and sometimes as an insult. The name is derived from a local stew called Scouse, it’s also the name of the local dialect and familiar to anyone who remembers the Beatles.
A book about vampires would obviously be a Gothic book.
So, one set in Liverpool could only be: “Scouse Gothic”.
I want to thank Ian for giving us that awesome guest post ! I found it really interesting. I didn’t know that Liverpool was connected to our Civil War.
I also want to thank everyone who reads this. I will be doing my review of this book tomorrow, until then….. Have a good day everyone!!!
Much Love ❤