Since I’m on this theme lately of the Story behind the story of several of my different books, I thought I’d backtrack a little and tell you some of the story behind the writing of LAKOTA PRINCESS.
Originally the idea of LAKOTA PRINCESS was to tell the story of a very little known fact about the West. I ran across the info on doing research — and it was fascinating to me. Here in America there was a German settlement (I now forget the name) where they set up a “Kingdom” complete with King, subjects, etc. So originally, the idea was to bring this little known fact to light and to tell a romantic story at the same time.
My editor, however, although she liked the idea, she asked me to bring the story to England. And of course I said yes. The idea of bringing an entire Native American story to England fascinated me.
So off I went with my characters to England.
This required a bit more research on my part, because I knew practically nothing about England — and here I was bringing the whole story overseas.
I’d sketched out the opening story line to the opening song of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST — the Disney version. That opening song and the narrative that goes with it inspired the entire beginning of my story, where the princess is escaping Europe under threat of her life. AS I sit here writing this, I can’t recall the exact tune of that song, all I remember is that it set the tone of the “escape with one’s life in hand.”
Some of the research I did was done in microfilm at the library — there was no internet at that time and the only place where I could find the book that I needed was offered in microfilm only — it was a book written by George Catlin in the 1840’s where he documented the experiences of about 6-10 representatives of one of the Western Tribes in England. It was fascinating — for one thing the Indians were treated almost like we would treat a rock star today — women were particularly thrilled with them and one of the Indians fell in love with a “black-eyed beauty” from England, married her and stayed with her in England. What became of them, I don’t know, but their observations of the English culture and England’s response to them was hardly what I thought it would be. In fact, the research was so fascinating, my editor had to remind me at one point that I had better get down to work on the book — and she was right. After all, this was my first book written under deadline.
Let me tell you some of the things I learned as I did my research — one of the Indians commented to Catlin that he believed the English were uncivilized and that their culture was doomed to fail. Catlin asked him why and his comment was that he had been watching and observing women with dogs — who cared for their dogs more than they did the starving children in the street. And that was a thing that he couldn’t understand: how could a person who had so much ignore the condition of the children in the streets, who were treated as though they were rats rather than children. He told Catlin that it made him yearn for home, where children were honored and fed properly. I found this an interesting piece of knowledge, which I used in my book. Another fact about England that I found interesting (and so my hero discovers this immediately upon landing in England) is that the waters were so polluted, that the water couldn’t be drunk. It was one of the main reasons why so many people drank wine — not water with their meals. Early on in my story, the hero observes the pollution of the water and makes a determination NOT to drink the water.
The pictures of this gentleman — this one and the one above are of George Catlin — and the painting of the Indian is a Catlin painting, also. There were other things I discovered, and because the princess in my book is an actual princess, I had to research that, also.
One of the things that I realized about writing under deadline is that you have to listen to your characters — and it’s my opinion that my job as an author is to write their story from their viewpoint — if only because if I keep trying to insert my own morals or viewpoint of their lives, the story will often stop dead — and only by going back and finding out what I did wrong will again move the story along with the characters solving their own problems.
So imagine this: here I was writing my first story under deadline and on about page 300 or so, the story stops and the characters absolutely refuse to talk to each other or to solve their own problems. I was stunned, and also a little concerned. It wasn’t as though I’d given myself all the time in the world to write this story. As it turns out, after much searching and searching to discover what was wrong, I finally found it — the character problem that had my hero and heroine up in arms. I had to backtrack to about page 50 of the book and rewrite coming forward — all the while with only a month or two left to finish the book and turn it in.
As it turns out, I did get the book written in time and to my editor just barely making the deadline — off to the left here is the original cover of LAKOTA PRINCESS — yes, it’s a romance, it’s definitely the Native American Historical genre, but it’s also very much a mystery — and a mystery the hero must solve quickly if he is to save the woman that he loves from an assassination bullet.
I’ll be giving away a free book today to some blogger — so come on in and leave a comment!