I promised myself I would finish We Killed Ichabod by the end of August so here I am writing away. There is a temptation to live what is happening in the book in real time because real time has caught up with my novel. August is the month Richard Post comes up to Sleepy Hollow to collect a debt and falls under the sway of the region. As he says, “I went up to Sleepy Hollow one man, and came back another.” This would mean revising and adding details about the Halloween events coming up next month, including the Haunted Hayride, as they happen this season.
I am now editing the part where the character in the journal, Damen Willem comes to New York trying to find out if he and the Sleepy Hollow boys, led by Brom Bones, really did kill Ichabod or if that scarecrow of a schoolmaster is alive and well in NYC. Falling sick, young Damen is taken in by a Gerrit, a dominie (minister) and Rupert, a ziekentrooster, (comforter of the sick.) The year is 1789, the year George Washington became president. There is also an elderly, cynical minister at this Dutch Reform Church on Fulton Street.
As the contemporary character, Richard finally confronts grief and breaks down in his apartment in the Flatiron District, Brooke Deering, his schoolteacher friend from Tarrytown, seeks help from Marble Collegiate Church, on 29th Street. The minister who helps is drawn from a number of people, but mostly the late Arthur Caliandro. There is no one like him.
Writing this book has been quite a ride. I take such liberties with characters that many will not recognize themselves. In some cases that is a good thing. You cannot try to write the great American novel because it has already been published. I m
ean Moby Dick. Melville wrote to Hawthorn, “I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb.” It is feels wicked to encode evil doers in fictional characters, gratifying to express thanks to good folk met along the path of life, and humbling to pay tribute to Washington Irving all along the way.