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Discovery on East TN farm inspires a novel | News

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Discovery on East TN farm inspires a novel
News, People
Discovery on East TN farm inspires a novel

A discovery on her farm inspired a Roane County woman to write a book.

Her novel is true to history and East Tennessee.

The book starts with the words, "It lay where it was buried for over 100 years."

That is until one day when Tom McCracken plowed a field on the Roane County farm where he's lived with his wife, Shirley, for 40 years.

Shirley McCracken explained, "His plow turned it up. He was stopping to pick up rocks and throw them off the field and found a breastplate somewhere right in this area."

Research showed the breastplate with an eagle on it belonged to a Civil War Union soldier.

"It laid in my kitchen drawer for over 30 years and the anniversary last year, 150th anniversary of the Civil War came along I decided to write the story of how and why it was buried here," she said.

They say write what you know and Shirley McCracken knows her farm. Several landmarks are featured in her story.

"There's a stagecoach road between Knoxville and Kingston that runs right through our farm. You can still see traces of it. There's an old barn that's since been torn down that has a cistern. In my story that cistern figures prominently in getting rid of some enemies."

The title of her novel is Breastplate.

Her characters come from her imagination but the Civil War setting is based on fact.














"There's a lot of history right in this area. We do know this was a battle area along this stretch of the road," she said.

The 77 year old still works as a nurse part time. She was dealing with an illness herself a few years ago when the story just came to her.

"It circled around in my head for three years until the anniversary started last year and I decided I am going to write this story. So the middle chapter had been in my mind for three years but I had to write the front of the book and the back of the book," she said.

She spent about 6 months writing the manuscript.

"It's got romance, it's got adventure, it's got intrigue," she said.

Shirley McCracken already has an idea for a sequel called Freedom Ranch set in Texas. But for now she's focusing on her first book, Breastplate.

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