A Note from the Author
A note on To None But Me:
This story has truly been a magical labor of love for me, and I will briefly attempt to explain why.
Ancestry is important to me. My great grandparents were immigrants, and as such raised their children so very close to the culture of their home. My grandmother was Irish from head to toe; short, spritely, with the most gorgeous deep red hair you can imagine. My grandfather was Norwegian; built tall, strong, with the most piercing blue eyes one could have. Both shared a common trait of their culture; their sheer stubbornness and their amazing capacity to love their family with every fiber of their being. Nothing was more important to them.
We grew up tight knit, hearing stories of Ophelia MacDonald, our indentured servant great grandmother from Ireland, and of Vivian and her husband Odmund, Norwegian immigrants who settled their roots in Duluth (our family still seems rather drawn to snow and rolling green fields).
I was often told that I resembled Ruby, a woman with such deep brown hair it was nearly black, and with the bluest eyes and palest skin. Although I only met her when I was very young, I would often be told stories of her charm and whimsy. It wasn’t until high school when a teacher called me ‘black Irish.’ I’d never heard the term, but when I asked my Nana, she knew what it meant; most Irish have lighter hair, but the ones with dark hair and bright eyes have their own niche in the world. I felt singular, at one with my heritage.
With the past swirling in my mind, I found myself at Pitié-Salpêtrière, a hospital in Paris, France that dated back to the 17th century. I stood within the echoing chapel, chilled at the notion that the insane, the poor, the destitute—all were shuffled in and out of these very halls. The walls had seen everything that I could not, but they held those memories all the same.
And then, the story was presented to me on a silver platter. Akin to a social experiment, the upper class of France knew not what to do with its overflowing prisons and bursting hospitals. So why not send them off, give them a new life in a New World with the promise of land and riches abounding? Why not make use of their failing colony while cleaning up the streets of Paris?
After my adventures abroad, I came home and set to work researching this historical masterpiece…and coming up rather empty. Unless there’s some book hiding in some library that I’ve not yet heard of, I exhausted many resources and found very little in terms of personal accounts on what transpired in an asylum in France in 1720.
And so, armed with little more than dates and locations, I called upon my ancestors to give me a story worth telling the world, pouring more love and emotion into this work than any of my others.
And here, my friends, is the result.