Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I write fiction--I think.

Some time ago I wrote a novel that I titled "Broussard Court". I later decided to leave open the possibility of making this a series, so I added "The New Witch" to it.


It tells the story of several women who are drawn (by the 'spirits') to New Orleans, where they find rooms in one of the apartments surrounding a courtyard, known as Broussard Court. A shop is adjoining, and all are managed by Madame Clothide Badeaux, nee Broussard. Madame was the granddaughter of a slave who, as was typical, took the name of her owner as her own surname. Madame 's father was the son of the slave and the plantation owner, set free upon the owner's death. Lighter skinned, Madame's sister, Adeline, 'passed for white' and moved to the East Coast and kept her past a secret. It is Adeline's granddaughter who inherits Broussard Court, apartments and shop when Madame dies. Until then, Addie knows nothing about New Orleans or her black grandmother.


When I started the tale, I wanted typical French names, nothing too common nor too unusual. As is usual for me, I changed the names several times before I lit on ones that were 'just right'. Broussard is a common French surname in south Louisiana, so I picked that for the plantation owner and his slave, Madame's grandmother, and by extension for her father and his three children. For her married name it took a little longer. I worked with a name I had come across when in that area—Breaux (from the town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana). I changed it a little and it finally ended up as Badeaux.


Now we are getting to the coincidence part.


Quite some time after writing the novel, after I had it professionally edited and started sending queries to agents, on a completely unrelated interest, I had my DNA tested by Ancestry.com. Working on the family tree is an intriguing hobby. I now have 400 plus pages of people whose DNA matches mine. On many of them I can look at their tree and mine and see how we are related (actually Ancestry does that for me) but there are many more folks who I don't have a clue how we fit. I know they are kin, though, because the test shows we are from the same line of ancestors in one way of another.


So here is the coincidence:


I have a 4th cousin. The 'code name' she goes by is MsNancy. Already there's a coincidence, but nothing really special. MsNancy may be my 4th cousin, but I don't see any mutual ancestors on our family tree. What I DO see is:


Her several times great-grandfather was Jacques Francois Broussard. His son married Adeline, daughter of Claire Buteau (spelled differently but pronounced almost the same as my Badeaux.). Adeline, grand-daughter of Pierre Buteau) was born in 1685 in Ile Orleans, Quebec, Canada. I wonder if she too, like my character, had a sister named Clothilde? Eventually the family migrates to "the East Coast", New York.


So how am I related to the Broussards and Buteaus? By way of imagination, or maybe race memory, I guess. 

It's just a coincidence. Isn't it?

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