My Cazique of Poyais story
17 May 2019 – first draft done and editing under way.
10 March 2020 – revised draft completed.
Barcelona, Venezuela, 1816 – A Scotish Gentleman fights as a Brigadier-General in the Venezuelan Republican Army under Bolivar, earning equal measures of praise and ridicule. On the one hand being called the Xenophon of the Americas and on the other a Quixote and bluffer. During his time there, his less honourable thoughts get the better of him as he dreams of the road to riches and cooks up the con of the century.
His grand con is a seemingly simple plan, yet filled with intricate detail. He decides to declare himself a South American Prince (“The Cazique”) and a landowner, despite being neither anointed nor having any land. With props and gusto, he convinces hundreds of people wallowing in the grey of Scotland and England, hungry to start a new life filled with milk, honey and sun, to hand over their hard earned cash for fictitious money and plots of land in a swampland called Poyais.
Six years later, the Cazique’s grand scheme is roaring success, leaving the lives of hundreds of settlers in ruins. Hiis name becomes synonymous with fraud across the civilised world, even if some of his victims fail to see it. Those who survive the treacherous scheme are called the Poyais Sufferers and are evacuated to British Honduras.
As the Poyais Sufferers arrive in Belize Town in British Honduras, the shock of the story reverberates across the community. The orphaned twins Noemi and Jose Mercorda do their best to help the relief efforts whilst also considering their own futures and how to find a new life for themselves. They vow not be scammed as the Sufferers have.
By chance, a man comes to offer them a ticket to a new life in England. Unbeknownst to them, the man is an old disciple of the Cazique’s who is out to make his own fortune and in their eagerness to believe there is something better, they are blind to the scam being presented to them. Their encounter sets the twins off on an adventure to the other side of the world. The cost is their Uncle’s livelihood and life – one that he gives willingly, even though it was never asked of him.
Noemi and Jose, believe they leave the pain, suffering and loss behind, setting off to find their place in the world, but the true test of their resolve and bond has only just begun. Along the way they will face tests of adversity they couldn’t have ever imagined. Finally they will land at the feet of the infamous Cazique and they must decide if they will fight against him or join him.
Why I’m writing it
I found this book on the Guardian or possibly just while browsing called “The Phantom Atlas” which details some of the many blunders made by cartographers and others throughout history – some on purpose and some by mistake. I was spellbound by a story about a conman, Sir Gregor MacGregor, from Scotland who convinced several hundred people to pack up their lives and go to the other side of the world with the promise of a land of milk and honey. He even sold people bonds on the London Stock Exchange secured against this fictional country’s riches. So, I reversed the idea and my story grew from there.
How I’m writing it
When I found a competition to write adventure fiction, I came up with the idea fairly quickly as I had already been thinking about it. I sketched out an outline over the course of probably a week or two’s tube journeys into work and then I got cracking. I’m positive that I will have a lot of editing and continuity type work to do when I’m done, but so far it has worked smoothly.
Drafting is ongoing and hoping to get some more done and even complete the first full draft over the summer.
New chapters being published here as and when I post them.
The Cazique’s Disciple
A Scene Set
The Disciple’s Triumph
The Eagle from Mexico
The Ghost of MacGregor
The London Deeds
Shall we go?
Cross city travel
Who owns the green
A Favour owed
The King’s Head
On the road
The Second Poyais Scheme
Back in London
Cash in the bank
The French foreign office
On the run
End (for now)