We’re so happy to have Anita Mae Draper visit the Junction. She’s giving away a copy of Romantic Refinements (Austen in Austin Vol. 1) so leave a comment!
Carousels have always been my favorite midway attraction, so when I decided to include the Texas State Fair into my latest story, Romantic Refinements, it was only natural that a carousel be added to the scene. Happily, I hit the research trail. My first stumble however, was when all the information pointed to Dallas holding the state fair and not Austin. My persistence paid off though and I found several sources to confirm the State Fair of Texas was held in Hyde Park in Austin from 1875 to 1884.
Since my story takes place in Austin in 1882, I was ready to go carousel hunting. As you can imagine finding images of a carousel that early was difficult, especially since part of my scene involved the brass ring that the carousel riders strive to collect. According to Wikipedia, ring devices were introduced about 1880, and while most of the rings were made out of iron, a couple on each ride consisted of brass. Some carousels had a clown designed on the side and you could toss your iron rings into its open mouth—no prize, but one way to make returning the rings exciting. Other carousels simply collected the rings in a container at the end of ride. However, if you managed to latch onto the brass ring, you were given a free ticket for the next ride.
Watching several YouTube videos showing riders going after the brass ring, I have to agree with them. Check out this video on Knoebel’s Carousel in Elysburg, PA to see the brass ring dispenser in action:
In the carousel scene in my Romantic Refinements story, there is a little girl who wants to catch that brass ring more than anything. The main problem with the ring dispenser, however, is that it’s the same distance for everyone and a bit out of her reach. But she tries ever so hard as can be seen in this photo which was my inspiration for this scene:
But the brass ring dispenser is just out of her reach. So the little girl does what she sees bigger kids doing—and that’s when disaster strikes. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will tell you that the events in my story will affect how the little girl handles life and romance when she re-appears as an adult in Sense and Nonsense by Lisa Karon Richardson, the final novella in Austen in Austin Volume 2.
Perhaps I’ll take a moment to explain that Austen in Austin contains 8 novellas in 2 volumes, all based on heroines of Jane Austen’s novels. Although we changed the stories to reflect historical Austin in the late 19th century, and took away some relationships such as the familial relationship between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, readers have still been able to identify their Austen counterparts. This is how we can have a little girl in my story grow and appear as an adult in Lisa’s story which takes place seventeen years later. This also gave us the chance for cameos to update characters as each novella progressed—like an ongoing epilogue where you see what happens after they are married. I love revisiting characters after reading their story ends, don’t you?
Have you ever ridden on a carousel? Where? Did you pick a horse or some other animal? Did you catch the brass ring?
Leave a comment for a chance to win Austen in Austin Volume 1 – winner’s choice print or digital.
Thanks for visiting me here today. You can find me at the following online sites:
Austen in Austin Volume 1 – Available for Order
Austen in Austin Volume 2 – Available for PRE-Order
Anita Mae Draper’s stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita’s current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016. Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at www.anitamaedraper.com