Hello! Welcome to the first post in my new blog mini-series: The Creation of a Novel, where I’ll be sharing behind-the-scenes information about my upcoming debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness. I hope you’ll join me on this journey toward launching my story into the world and leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section below. I love connecting with readers!
One of the most common questions an author hears is:
Where did you find your inspiration for this novel?
In the case of Waltz in the Wilderness, I began with the idea that I wanted to write a story that featured my hometown region of San Diego during the time shortly after the Mexican-American War. So I began researching what life was like here during that era and quickly fell in love with the small port town that San Diego was at that time. It’s difficult to look at the sprawling city of millions that it is today and picture it as a quaint little town of less than 9,000 people (and that included everyone in what is now San Diego County and San Bernardino County).
From there, I began to learn what brought people to this town and why they settled here. While their stories are varied, there was a common theme among the business people in that many of them also owned or worked closely with businesses in San Francisco. I learned that people in San Diego were vitally connected to those in San Francisco and yet communication between the two cities was rather unreliable with letters regularly suffering delays or going missing entirely. Communication with cities back east was even worse.
The more I learned about the ways people people communicated across distances during this time period, the more fascinated I became. With our modern technology, today we have nearly instant access to those we love whether they are in the next room or on the opposite side of the planet. What would it be like to return to the old methods of communication? How would I handle it if my child or parent suddenly stopped writing? What would I do to confirm they were alive and well?
From here, I began to incorporate some of my experience working with the foster community and the idea of role reversal which often occurs when a parent in unable to fulfill their duties, often as a result of their own personal struggles. Typically, in these cases a child takes on the role of parent and carries those worries and burdens which are normally associated with being a parent.
At the start of Waltz in the Wilderness, Eliza’s Pa suffers from chronic depression following the tragic loss of his beloved wife and Eliza tries to fill her mother’s shoes in caring for her pa. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that after the two are separated and her pa’s letters stop arriving, there isn’t much Eliza won’t do to find him.
Here’s the full description of Waltz in the Wilderness.
She’s desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help.
Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother’s death, so she’ll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend’s unexpected assistance is a blessing she can’t refuse.
Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it’s been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancé is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.
When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?
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Be sure to stop by tomorrow to learn how I chose the names for my characters in this novel!
What would you do if you suddenly couldn’t communicate with someone you loved?
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