I'm delighted to welcome back the fabulous and super talented author, Stacie Haas today who is sharing a little about her debut novel. Over you to you, Stacie!
My debut novel, Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee, tells the unique story of a young Chinese boy who escapes a life of indentured servitude, is raised in America, and finds himself embroiled in his adopted country’s epic battle for freedom. To Thomas’s knowledge, he’s the only Chinese person in America, a fact the other boys in his regiment won’t let him forget. They harass him for his small stature, his unusual facial features, and the ancient Chinese hairstyle he wears called a queue. Thomas quickly discovers that he’ll have to fight against more than just the Confederate Rebels in the war; fighting for his own freedom may be his most challenging battle of all.
Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is a new middle-grade novel for ages 10 and up. It is based on the life a real Chinese Yankee. The novel launched in November 2017 from Melody Press, an imprint of 5050 Press.
Below is an excerpt from chapter 9:
“So, what's your story, Tommy?”
“I, um, came over on my father's ship.” Thomas recovered from the shock of Henry's question. “He found me hiding as he sailed away from China on his way back to America.”
“You remember how you got there?” Elias’s blue eyes were friendly.
“A little,” Thomas acknowledged. “My uncle said it was a good ship, stowed me there, said it would take me away and keep me safe.”
“Safe from what?” Henry interrupted.
Thomas paused, not sure what to say next. The truth wouldn't help. Joseph told him that other countries were at the port in Kuangchou to collect coolies—Chinese indentured servants—not much better than slaves. Joseph had assumed that whomever placed Thomas on his ship was trying to save him from a coolie contract.
“I don't know all the details,” Thomas finally said, which was true. “I was only six years old, or so my father guessed. He brought me home and raised me.”
“Wait,” James interjected. “You don’t know how old you are?”
“I, well…I was over eighteen when I enlisted—”
“There ain’t no officers here,” James reminded him. “How old are you really?”
“The truth is I am not sure,” Thomas confessed. “My father assumed I was about six when he found me, but my mama figured younger being as I was really small. I couldn’t speak English. I’ve been with them for ten years so that makes fifteen or sixteen a good guess.”
“As small ya are, I’m figuring more like twelve,” Henry teased. “Don’t make sense to me anyways. Why would your pa bring a Chinese boy into his house like family? Slave makes more sense. How come he wasn’t worried about what people would say?”
There was that ugly word again with its even uglier meaning. Thomas felt a ball of fury rounding up inside and a profound sadness, too, at knowing friendship with Henry—with these men—was still far beyond his grasp.
“Slavery is outlawed in the North, Henry, and you know that.” Elias was quick to respond. “Thomas, you’ve had quite a time of it.”
“My father has never cared for other people’s opinions.” Thomas’s pride for his father rose above his swirling emotions. “He started calling me ‘son’ and named me Thomas after his own father.”
“My home and family are in Connecticut,” he continued. “Mama taught me how to read and write and do arithmetic with Robert's lessons from the schoolhouse.”
“You didn't go to school?” James lowered his pipe.
Thomas said no, he hadn't. His mama hadn't wanted him to leave the farm.
“See?” Henry erupted. “They were ashamed of their slave son.”
Henry rose and engaged a gaggle in a dice tossing card game down the lane. James finished his pipe and crossed into the log hut. Only Elias and Thomas remained. Thomas's shoulders shrunk and he crinkled away the tickle in his nose.
“Thank you for staying, Elias.”
“No need.” Elias brushed strands of long thin hair out of his eyes. “I think it's interesting, that's all.”
“How you can fight for the North, for our country, when folks like Henry are everywhere, thinking you can't fight, thinking you don't belong here.”
Thomas thought a moment, chipped a twig into the fire. “I'm fighting to prove people like him wrong.”
Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is available in both paperbook and e-book on Amazon.com. A curriculum guide for teachers, librarians, and parents is available at www.5050press.com and www.staciehaas.com.
Stacie Haas is an award-winning professional and creative writer with background in business communications, public relations, and reputation management. She is the author of FREEDOM FOR ME: A CHINESE YANKEE, a historical fiction book for middle grade and young adult readers. Her other writing has appeared in St. Anthony Messenger and Skipping Stones and in Indies Unlimited’s 2016 Flash Fiction Anthology. Stacie has a degrees in English and American History and is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Find her on Twitter @staciehaas, Facebook @authorstaciehaas, LinkedIn, and online at www.staciehaaas.com. Her publisher’s website is www.5050press.com.