I’m reading a lot recently about why we write what we write, and just how much of our own personal life ends up in our novels. This is an interesting and involved subject. The more I thought about it after it was brought up by Jerry Hogan in his workshop at OWL, the more I realized I was not actually recreating myself over and over in my books. I was going a step further.
He wanted to know how much of ourselves we wrote about, but I dug deeper and saw that, I stopped writing about myself after my first few novels, but I never stopped recreating female characters I wanted to be like. As I delved into each one, from the protagonists in my western historical romances, to the woman possessed by a demon in my latest, A Savage Grace, coming out in late September, and all those in between, I saw the truth in my suspicion. I wanted to live their lives. Therein lies the real reason I wrote each book. Because I did live their lives while I was involved in writing the book.
I’m finishing the third in The Victorian series, and there is more of a family connection in those three books than in others. My grandmother and great-grandmother were Victorians through and through. When she was 13 my great-grandmother arrived in Kansas in a covered wagon. She grew up to marry the first policeman in Winfield, Kansas. A story I’d love to one day fictionalize. I was 16 when she passed, having lived into her late 90s by eating a diet that contained loads of butter, cream, sugar, and fats, as was the way then. What a cook she was.
Funny I would remember that when what I wish now to have remembered was some of the stories she often told us kids. I was the oldest great-grandchild and grandchild, so you would think I could recall more. Sadly children don’t understand the importance of stories told by adults until we’re too old to realize the wisdom contained in those tales. Then we wish we could go back and grab hold of them.
However, by recreating three Victorian young women plopped down in the middle of Kansas from their home in Manchester, England, I’ve tried to recreate that great-grandmother and live her life through these books. Imagine three girls, already orphaned by a dreadful accident, swept up into a new exciting but dangerous life in the west of the 1870s. With three distinctly different personalities, each has their own way of dealing with this stressful occurrence.
Wilda, the one of the three chosen to marry their guardian, a second son scarred by his father’s disavowal and a bloody war, revolts in fear and choses a handsome but inexperienced outlaw to rescue her from the planned marriage. Thus her adventures begin and she goes from the perfect life to one of danger and fear in Wilda’s Outlaw.
Rowena, the eldest of the three, loves their guardian, and recognizes his problems because she has gone through some terrible experiences while the three women were living in an orphanage/workhouse. Rowena’s Hellion is experiencing what we now call Post Traumatic Stress, then known as Soldier’s Heart. Men suffering from this were literally tossed into the streets to starve. Sound familiar? Fortunately he has Rowena.
The third and youngest of the three has put aside her Victorian upbringing and embraced the way of the west. Most of the comments, reviews and emails about this character, shown briefly in the first two books, say they can’t wait to read about her. She’s attempting to model herself after Calamity Jane, without really understanding what prompted Jane’s life style. Tyra is rebellious, daring and often foolish in her choices. So when she chooses James Lee, a well settled rancher, her family is relieved. They don’t see Zachariah coming till it’s too late. This gambler, ex-gang member, is a perfect match for Tyra, but together they are liable to get into more trouble than they can handle in Tyra’s Gambler.
So, I’ve lived the lives of these three girls with a gusto and adventuresome spirit. They may not have any of me in them, but I have been with them through thick and thin, and feel as if I’ve lived their lives fully as well as they have. I will miss them and their family and friends. There’s only one cure, isn’t there? Create someone new to accompany through the pages of my next book.