My novels, The Cast Net and Catherine’s Cross are set in the Low Country of South Carolina. As I was working on The Cast Net, which was my first novel, I read at least twenty-five books on the history of South Carolina. I tried to gain as much knowledge about the area, the people, and the history of our culture and customs. I am a native South Carolinian and many of my ideas come from historical research.
While reading about the Low Country, I came across interesting facts that I used in my novels. For instance, I have a fictitious point of land on one of the rivers near Beaufort, South Carolina, in Catherine’s Cross. I named the point, Nairne Point after Indian agent, Thomas Nairne, who was tortured to death by Yemassee Indians in 1715, during an Indian uprising. The point becomes ominous when a character’s, (he betrayed his Gullah family over their ancestral land) sapphire blue Cadillac is found submerged after a fisherman catches the hood ornament with a fish hook. His body was never recovered, and a relative, Meta Jane, hoped he had a visit with a shark.
From researching the Civil War period, I created the fictitious Catherine’s Cross. The crucifix was stolen from Miss Iris Elliott, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner in the Beaufort area by Union soldiers. In truth, the Federal navy captured the Beaufort, Hilton Head, and Port Royal communities in late 1861. Their naval base would remain in the Beaufort area throughout the Civil War. During this period, properties were looted including wealthy plantations homes. The white planters fled the area.
Catherine’s Cross was from the collection of Catherine the Great. Iris Elliott’s father had purchased it while on a tour of Europe in the 1850’s. The cross was stolen from the Elliott plantation and stowed on a Union ship bound for a northern destination. A fire breaks out on board, and the boat sinks in waters off the South Carolina coast. The cross becomes a long lost prize sought after by treasure hunting divers.
Diving for artifacts in the waterways around Beaufort is a hobby of sport divers. In the years after Beaufort’s founding in 1711, there were numerous taverns located along the rivers. After beer or wine was consumed, the bottles often ended up at the bottom of the rivers. I have seen these ancient bottles for sale in Low Country antique stores. At the beginning of Catherine’s Cross, the heroine, Jenks’s twin sister Gigi, accidentally drowns while diving for artifacts with her