It’s with a great deal of pleasure that we welcome back to the Junction, our week-end guest blogger. Lena Nelson Dooley, who will share with you the story behind the story and her research for A Heart’s Gift!
Love the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. My first trip to Colorado was in October of 2004, and that’s when I fell in love. I taught a retreat at Silverthorne in Summit County, not far from the Continental Divide. I was mesmerized by the beautiful mountains. The weather turned really cold, and a light snowfall dusted the higher slopes that I could see from the windows of the house where the retreat was held.
If the person I was talking to was between me and the wall of windows, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on that person. The mountains kept pulling my attention away. Breathtaking isn’t a strong enough word for what I saw when my eyes wandered. I decided that I wanted to set a book in Summit County. While I was in Summit County the first time, I bought a book about the history of the area.
A Heart’s Gift came out in December of 2016. When I write, I work hard to make the book authentic to the time period, which was 1893. Silverthorne wasn’t even a town at that time, but lots of both silver and gold mines were located in Summit County. Some small and owned by individual miners. Some had been bought by mining companies and were large enterprises. In addition to the book I bought when I was there, I also looked on Amazon for any historical books. There are at least two series of books that contain not only information, but also actual photographs taken in different time periods.
A treasure trove of details is available online and in books. I used a lot of them to recreate the area in 1893. I bought the Images of America book of photos in Summit County. These included photos of Breckenridge, which was a thriving town with mines and cattle ranches close by. I learned a lot about the area, and I was able to actually visualize the town and surrounding area.
Of course, the characters in my novel and the ranch are completely fictitious. Here are a few of the things that are authentic:
- Capital Bank of Denver
- Details about a cattle drive
- Shipping cattle by rail to Swift slaughter house in Chicago
- The baby furniture, the high chair and the cradle (I found these in a historical Sears catalogue I already had)
- The Ladies’ Book Club in Breckenridge
- The Arlington Hotel (but I fictionalized the owner and the special suite for mine owners)
- The Breckenridge Bakery on Lincoln Street that actually did make cream puffs at that time
- Vaudeville show – The Face on the Barroom Floor
- Stamp mills, throbbing beat
- Ladies spent a lot of money on hats
As a reader, I love when there are authentic details in books. I think most other readers do, too. That’s why I do so much research. I want readers like you to get a real picture of the history of the time when my books take place. I’ve written a lot of western historical novels.
I’d love for us to chat some, so I’m going to ask you some questions to get us started.
Do you as a reader like to know that the historical details are authentic?
What time period do you prefer reading about?
Who is your favorite western author?
A Heart’s Gift received the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Award for long historicals. I will be giving away one Kindle copy of the book. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a Free copy of Kindle for Apple (computers), Kindle for PC, Kindle for tablets, or Kindle for Android phones where you can read the book.
Print – http://ow.ly/X7HK30fC0IV
Kindle – http://ow.ly/Qyth30fC0Ym