Many thanks to Petticoats and Pistols for once again welcoming me to their site! What a wonderful group of writers—I’m excited to be joining them!
This month, I’m launching my new western historical romance, Changes. The third in my related-character series about St. Louis schoolmates, this is Lise’s story. In 1879, Omaha librarian Lise Dupree struggles to keep her part-Sioux heritage hidden as she reluctantly agrees to help research legal questions for a band of Ponca Indians led by Standing Bear. What begins as a quest for justice becomes a search for identity as she encounters ambitious district attorney Zach Spencer in a battle that will force them both to change the roles they have created for themselves. In the process, they confront Lise’s haunting past, Zach’s political aspirations, the dangerous prejudice of an unstable Indian agent, and the subtle differences between justice and the law. They discover smoldering love and a shared passion for justice—theirs if they can embrace the changes that have allowed them to open their hearts to one another.
Since this is the third book in the series, there were challenges in developing the story. Chances and Choices were set in 1876/77 and I’d already established that Lise was a part-Sioux advocate for Indians. My plot needed to be set around the same time and related to Indian rights—hopefully a real-life event.
So, I began to research. The Trial of Standing Bear was perfect. It had instant conflict—my hero and heroine on opposite sides of the case. As an added bonus, there were a host of real-life people such as General George Crook, Tom Tibbles, and Susette La Flesche who could populate my pages. I just needed create my hero, heroine, and villain and their inner stories.
My villain, Rufus, was the easiest to create. Though his role was inspired by history, he is entirely fictional. Creating an Indian attack in his past, I set up his motivation then rounded him out a bit with some good qualities such as a love of children, so that he wasn’t one-dimensional.
Zach was clear also from the first. As an attorney, he could have a solid identification with the law, one that would be resistant to change. Adding in Gramps as his idol helped to solidify his backstory. From there, I added in the political campaign and Adam Foster as a second villain. Gramps’ past arose once I created Lise’s character and needed to deepen her conflict.
Lise was more difficult—until I learned the law library was maintained within Omaha’s public library and that there were female librarians at that time. Her role set, I just needed to build her back story. I owe my critique group a debt of thanks for insisting that someone who didn’t want to get involved needed huge motivation to do so. That’s when Aunt Rose came into the story. Not only did Aunt Rose allow me to develop a delightful character but she added an immediate reason for Lise to become involved. I was able to build Lise’s childhood history as well as make a connection with Gramps that would increase conflict.
It seems odd, to have my journey with Miriam, Sarah, and Lise coming to an end. I hope readers will find Lise’s story fulfilling and make the jump with me to a new era (1905) in my next book.
I’d love to chat with you, if you care to chime in about any of the topics I’ve raised or if you have a question. If you can’t join in today, you can also find me on my website (www.pamelanowak.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/pamela.nowak.142), or Twitter (www.twitter.com/readpamelanowak).
For those who can stay and chat today, please do! I’ll be gifting one of you with a print copy of Changes. I hope you enjoy!