Every book begins with an idea-a spark of imagination that excites the writer and makes him or her anxious to pursue the subject, and then to write about it. For me, Finding Joaquin Murieta was the beginning of a life-long romantic adventure. He has taken me on a journey I will never forget and opened door I would have never thought to open.
My new book, El Dorado, was conceived over the kitchen sink. I guess I was day dreaming. I saw alittle Mexican boy in white clothes sitting next to his aged grandfather. There was a small campfire burning brightly and behind them were some hills. Grandfather was telling the boy the story of Joaquin Murieta, California’s Robin Hood Bandit, and at the end of the story, when Grandfather said that Joaquin was no more, a shout was heard from the hills behind them, “I am Joaquin. You will remember my name.” The boy and the grandfather turned and saw a Zorro-like horseman sitting astride a rearing black stallion. Behind them was a full yellow moon.
Now, it’s only fair to say that I had been planning a driving vacation with my husband and had gotten the Automobile Club book on the Mother Lode, ie. Gold Rush Country. In it is a brief bio of Joaquin Murieta, so I was not unfamiliar with the name. But I was unfamiliar with his deeds.
I couldn’t get the image out of my mind and it eventually became a book, but it’s what happened during the writing of the book that has changed my mind about the paranormal.
I didn’t recognize it first. I didn’t put two and two together until it practically hit me in the face. There were incidents, which at first I wrote off as coincidences. Only now, after much reflection, do I see them differently.
The very first book that I wrote and never completed, took place in 1870 Arizona, around Tucson. I did a ton of research on Apaches and such. Some of that research involved General Stoneman in San Francisco. Once I had the over-the-sink vision, I became obsessed with writing El Dorado instead of the one I was working on. But I really didn’t want to do a whole bunch of new research. I decided to try to use my vision with some of the research I’d already done. Joaquin is a character that you can pretty much do anything with since there isn’t any proof of his birth or death.
According to the Joaquin legends, he was only 18 years old when he died in 1853, not old enough to be a hero in a romance novel. So, I tacked a few years onto his age, which brought the date up to 1870, the year I’d researched for the Arizona novel. There is speculation that Joaquin didn’t die at the massacre on the Cantua (a spot in the road off California’s I-5 freeway) as reported by Captain Harry Love’s California Rangers, but retreated to Mexico and recuperated from wounds there. Picking up on that idea, that Joaquin didn’t die, but did indeed survive, I brought him to the San Francisco I had researched in 1870 and had him looking to get revenge on the men who killed his wife back in 1852 or 1853. And so the book began.
Only after I was half way through the book did I pick up some new research material that casino online speculated that Joaquin eluded the California Rangers, returned to Mexico and found his way to San Francisco in 1870. I was more than a little surprised by this information.
We were living in Placentia, CA when the book was conceived. My hubby was transferred to Kern County, CA. Soon after we made the move, I discovered that Joaquin was said to have come through the town of Tehachapi, near Bakersfield. I also found out that Academy Award winning actor, Jack Palance, was convinced that Joaquin had buried gold on his Stallion Springs property. In fact, he hired someone to hunt for it.
A woman who knew me through someone else called me because she was thinking of moving to Tehachapi and wanted to look at property. She asked me to drive her around. She was semi familiar with Tehachapi’s history and had been to Tehachapi a long time ago. I drove her to the end of Stallion Springs and she told me that somewhere in the vicinity there was a tunnel through which Joaquin Murieta and his horse gang used to escape. When she told me this, she had no idea that I was writing about Joaquin.
After finishing the book, my agent sent it out to publishers. I got a rejection that clearly stated that Mexican heroes were not saleable. I was shocked. After I recovered, I rewrote Joaquin to be half Mexican and half white. Then more new research material came my way and the author claimed that Joaquin’s mother was a Mexican maiden and his father a Yankee engineer who came to Mexico, fell in love with a young Mexican girl and produced Joaquin.
After a number of such incidents, I planned a publicity trip for a writer friend through the gold rush country and picked up research material along the way. During the trip we stayed the night at a B & B. A guest informed us that the owner read palms and handwriting. We immediately scheduled sessions and during my session she told me that Joaquin had a large ego and that he was sitting on my shoulder helping me. When I finished the book he must have jumped off my shoulder and run away because I never had another incident until…recently, while writing about another real life character, Cochise! Stay tuned.
To all you pet lovers—My organization, Have a Heart Humane Society, is going to be holding a fundraising auction with Ebay Giving Works Oct. 22, 2014. Our goal is to raise $10,000 for spay and neuter. Please check out our Facebook page and Pinterest to see some of the items up for bid. Here are a couple of examples: a one night stay continental breakfast at the stars’ hotel, Sunset Towers in Hollywood ($500 value), a Prada dress, a Juicy Couture satchel, a Bulova diamond watch, a critique of your first three chapters by Christian Writer Lauraine Snelling and so much more. Please like our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/haveahearthumanesociety