Throughout the writing of
the early titles, this was simply The Georgia Series. After publication
of the second title, Sweet Southern Boys, I chose the new name because
I see fortitude as one of the defining traits of the main characters in
all five of the stories.
Although characteristic of
Southerners* throughout the region, and for generations, fortitude is particularly
characteristic of the largely Scots-Irish denizens of the Southern highlands,
where it is also known as pure cussedness. It encompasses more than just
mountaineer stubbornness, though. It is the sheer determination to defy
defeat, even among the defeated -- or, at least, to refuse the behavior
and demeanor of the defeated.
Fortitude explains the refusal
of Confederate soldiers -- and their families -- to grovel after the Union's
brutal victory and even more brutal "re-unification." Popular culture and
some scholarly works (J.W. Cash's Mind of the South, for example)
portray white Southerners, especially men, who were not of the aristocracy
(that is, poor, as in "poor white"), as whining and shiftless and incessently
blaming others for his circumstances. While true in some individual instances,
it is this stereotype (and others) -- which I consider not merely unrealistic
and largely untrue, but malicious -- that I write to counter.
The primary reason it is
untrue is because the "lazy Southerner" was actually a condition resulting
from widespread poverty after the war. Many Southerner at that time could
not afford shoes and they contracted hookworm from walking barefoot in
places where the organisms lived. Hookworm infection resulted in catastrophic
iron deficiency anemia, rendering the victim basically incapable of doing
much of anything physically.
Based upon my experience
and observation growing up in the last half of the 20th Century, in various
places in the Deep South, I believe white Southerners have gotten a bum
rap for everything from the "civil war" to the civil rights movement, from
"slavery and racism" to religious fanaticism. In general, the Southerners
I've known are basically hard-working and genial; they possess a healthy
balance of contentedness and ambition. They love to work and they
love to play; they are far less judgmental and more tolerant than folks
from other regions, and they have remarkably long fuses.
How this fortitude, and other
regional characteristics, manifest in individuals -- both men and women,
but especially men -- is one of the threads woven throughtout my writing,
and particularly in this series. How they respond to sudden adversity is
at the heart of the stories in the Legacy of Fortitude series.
*The term Southerners
here, and throughout my writing, refers primarily (though not exclusively)
to white Southerners, particularly those whose forebears have lived in
the South for generations.