I have been asked how I came up with the concept for the Winds of Betrayal Series. The whole of the series is loosely based on the Culper Spy Ring. I had never heard of the Culper Spy Ring until I was doing research on the American Revolution for a book over ten years ago. The mystery surrounding spies during that time stirred my imagination, especially agent 355. Agent 355 worked for the Culper Spy Ring. Her identity was never known. The more I thought about the spy rings…about agent 355…the more I was convinced that women had more to do with spying than they had been given credit.
Given the attitude of men during this time period, I believe a woman could have done a great damage to either side. But I believe the British were more susceptible. Arrogance, an air of superiority, underestimating the abilities of those surrounding them—all qualities that the British exhibited to the colonists. In the defense of the British, it was…is never that uncommon for a power to behave in the manner the British did when one is in control. Although, problems always arise when you don’t listen to the people you govern. To be fair, I don’t believe the British people had their heart in the war against the colonies. If there was blame to be had for the British losing the colonies, it should lay firmly on the shoulders of King George III. Time and time again he refused to compromise…refused to listen until it was too late.
I’m getting a tad off track. I wanted to address spying during the American Revolution, especially in New York. When I was doing my research, I came across several incidents which could have been due to spying, uncovering plots against General Washington, battle plans… You can find some of them in Winds of Betrayal and the spy network that Hannah belonged.
A little tid-bit of information about the British’s stance on women during the American Revolution. General Thomas Gage, the commander of the British forces at the beginning of the uprise, married an American woman, Margaret Kemble from New Jersey. From all accounts the two had a successful marriage having seven children, but it is thought…not confirmed…that Margaret Kemble Gage was the informer…spy if you will…that gave information to Dr. Warren about her husband’s raid at Lexington and Concord. For her efforts…if it was indeed true… she was sent to England on her husband’s orders. Interesting.
This is the way I see the women spies of the revolution— they were overlooked in the beginning. The British have an air of chivalry that gave women a certain leniency. I believe General Washington showed the same leniency toward Benedict Arnold’s wife, Peggy Shippen. Times changed though the longer the war dragged on…especially given the British were losing.
Ironic that the most famous American spy during the American Revolution was also probably the worst spy imaginable. His loyalty, courage, and committment to the American cause has never been questioned, but in reality Nathan Hale was ill prepared to have attempted his a dangerous mission he volunteered for. Nathan Hale gave the ultimate sacrifice for the cause he believed in…he was hanged. The young Patriot was treated horribly before he died having been denied. It was said he was denied a Bible, last letters to his family, and clergy. But it wasn’t so unusual during this time. Once a spy was caught, he was immediate hanged. It meant to be a deterrent.
Which brings me to the British’s most famous spy during the American Revolution—Major John Andre. He too faced death bravely, but his one request was to be shot instead of being hanged because of the stigma hanging carried with it. He too was hanged. I’m going to stop with that thought on Major Andre. He is one of the historical characters portrayed in Winds of Betrayal with good reason. He was in the midst of the biggest betrayal the Americans felt during the American Revolution…the defection of Benedict Arnold…which will be the focus of The Heavens Shall Fall.
The whole of the Winds of Betrayal is purely fiction. It is a product of my over active imagination…it is how I can imagine it might have happened. Remember secrecy was of the utmost importance. It is the reason we don’t have all the answers to what happened during the American Revolution.
The truth is we owe a great deal of thanks to the people who risked their lives for the belief in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Winds of Betrayal may be purely fiction, but it holds my respect for those who have placed their lives on the line for all of us to enjoy the life we know today.