Trumbull author inspired by Block Island beauty, history
When Trumbull resident David Lee Tucker first visited Block Island in the 1960s, the beauty he found there, coupled with a dark history of 18th-Century slavery, captured his imagintion and never quite let go.
About 15 years ago, while looking at a painting his wife had done of the island landscape, he was inspired to start what would become a historical fiction trilogy.
Tucker recently released a final installment to his Stone Wall Freedom trilogy. The conclusion, Stone Wall Freedom: The Slave, provides a never-before-seen glimpse into the early history of Rhode Island’s Block Island, a community with the highest number of slaves per capita in the Northeast in 1786, Tucker said.
“I was inspired by my love for the magnificent beauty and history of the island,” Tucker said. “In particular, the story of slaves and stone walls intrigued me so that I felt compelled to look further into the how, what and when of the history. The story came out of that research.”
Stone Wall Freedom: The Slave, set in post-Revolution Rhode Island, tells the story of Hannibal, the son of an African king who now finds himself a slave without rights. Hannibal’s quest for freedom encourages readers to find meaning and freedom in their own lives.
In the book, the community of Block Island, pressured from mainland New England, passes a new ordinance granting freedom to any slave who successfully builds a stone wall across the island.
“This gives new hope to Hannibal’s long-dreamt dream of liberty. Though his fellow slaves doubt him and his master actively works against him, Hannibal adamantly persists in building his freedom wall and finds unlikely help in an English cleric and a Navy captain,” the series description reads.
Stone Wall Freedom: The Slave is a tribute to the many thousands of American slaves who lived in a post-Revolution world, hoping for a better life, Tucker said.
The series, published by Two Harbors Press, starts in 1749 and the final book is set in 1786.
While he now has a triology under his belt, writing wasn’t always Tucker’s career.
“I recently retired from a corporate career of 30 years in finance and benefits but have always enjoyed writing poems and short stories,” he said. “Even back in college I had the desire to write a novel, if I ever found a story worth the effort. Then one day, while commuting to work, the light went on that this was the story I decided was worth writing.”
His wife is the cover artist for all three novels, and Block Island is still where they spend their summers.
While the series is complete, this won’t be his last foray into historical fiction.
“I just completed my next manuscript and started the editing process,” he said. “It is historical fiction about the events that led up to the founding of Block Island, entitled ‘1661 — In Spirit and in Truth.’ This novel brings to life the actual events and major historical figures during the period of 1630 to 1661 in New England.
“The lives of John Winthrop, John Endicott, John Underhill, Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Dyer intertwined into the lives of the founding families of Block Island,” he said of the new manuscript. ”I find it a compelling story of the lengths some pioneers went to find true freedom.”
To learn more about the series, to read excerpts or to purchase copies, visit stonewallfreedom.com. The books are also for sale on Amazon.com.