Hello, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve visited and I’m glad to be back to catch up with everyone.
One of the things that excites me about writing historicals is researching the occupations from way back when. Some of the jobs sound so adventurous.
In Wyoming Territory, women got the right to vote earlier than in most other places. In 1869, in fact. When the Territory debated whether to join the Union, the other states asked Wyoming to drop the right for women to vote as a precondition for joining. The men of Wyoming refused, and in 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state of the Union anyway. Hooray for those dashing Wyoming men! As a result of getting the right to vote, women of Wyoming got to serve on juries, be judges, lawyers, court bailiffs, and all sorts of fascinating occupations much sooner than their Eastern counterparts.
One of my earlier books involved a female gunsmith (THE SURGEON, 2003). That was fun to research. I discovered that not everyone in the Wild West could afford to own an expensive Smith & Wesson or Colt Revolver. Everyday guns (why does that sound odd?) were made by the local clockmaker because he owned some of the same intricate tools needed, and had an eye for detail. In my story, the heroine grew up with a father who held that occupation, and she and her brother picked up the trades. She tries to stick to clockmaking and shuns the weapons, but her expertise is needed in the climax of the book when she has to help the hero deliver several guns custom made (by her) to the villain, with her brother’s life in the balance.
Thinking about livelihoods is what sparked the idea for my current book, ALASKAN RENEGADE.
The heroine is Victoria Windhaven, a nurse stuck in the middle of nowhere who has to do more than what’s required of her since no doctors are around to help. Victoria sets off on a dangerous medical journey through the Alaskan wilderness and needs a bodyguard to protect her. Unfortunately, he’s a man from her past – Brant MacQuaid. Several years ago in St. Louis, he left her sister standing at the altar and Victoria has never forgiven him.
Brant is the son of a governor who has shunned his father’s political footsteps to become a bounty hunter. His family has disowned him for it – but he was traumatized by the murder of his best friend and figures this is his chance to bring criminals to justice in his way. Accompanying them on the trip is an inexperienced and scared young medical student who has a crush on Victoria and complicates everything – also provides some comic relief. The medical student is being pushed to become a doctor by his father, but is trying to decide if that’s who he really wants to be in life. The villain himself is in dire need of medical help for his own injured father, and it becomes a tense showdown for the three travelers to decide if they’re going to help the villain or do him in….and in the meantime battle who they’ve become in their young lives, and the occupations they’ve set out for themselves. And, of course, the wilderness is a very romantic backdrop for the love story!
Here’s a photo of the place I set the story. Isn’t it beautiful?
If you were living in those times, what would you have been?
A judge? A traveling photographer? Candy maker? Railroad worker? Tinsmith? Bootmaker? Explorer? Mapmaker? Casket-measurer (I just threw that one in for fun.) Inventor of fancy notions? Printing press owner? Bar-keep? Saloon girl? Dancer? Restaurant owner? Deputy Marshal? Tailor? Gold miner?
If I couldn’t choose writing, I would have liked to have been an apothecary. There would have been lots of research and thinking involved, plus I’d get to run my own business and help people in need. And I’d love to work with all those pretty bottles. Being a judge would’ve been interesting, too, although I’m not sure I could control my temper. I’d be like a Judge Judy giving all the criminals lectures. “Did your mama raise you to play with guns? Take your hands off your holsters and stand up straight when you’re talking to me!”
For anyone who leaves a comment or question today, you’ll get your name put into a drawing for a free autographed copy of ALASKAN RENEGADE.
To read an excerpt visit www.katebridges.com