Boone lived from 1734 to 1820. He grew up Quaker in Pennsylvania, the site of all kinds of family chaos, and left there, as a young man, for pastures new--and newer. He ended up moving on for much of the rest of his life, and is probably best known for helping open Kentucky, a pristine wilderness, to white settlement. My novel imagines him trying to find somewhere else, somewhere perfect, again and again. What happens when we do that, when we imagine something perfect can be grasped and held? The answer, I think, is hard suffering. Boone's son James was murdered, his daughter Jemima was kidnapped, and he was taken captive for months, all as a result of his pushing into Native American territories, and none of which stopped him trying.
What records there are portray him as charismatic, calm, quick-thinking, funny, and philosophical. My DB is that way, I think, and also hard-headed, full of desire, sometimes rash, sometimes confused. While I was writing the many early drafts, I kept having dreams about people who appeared to be him, but always turned out to be historical re-enactors (hmm). When I had finally cleared up his voice, I had a dream of walking along a creek in the fall, and feeling my walk change, my body and self change. Feeling that I not only had him, but that for about twenty steps I was him. A kind of possession, as A.S. Byatt put it. I was glad to have that ghost.