I have always loved the west. The history. The lives of those who settled there and what they endured. The ruggedness. Whenever my husband and I plan a trip, we always head west. Now, while I love history and the west, I’d only written one historical romance, The Trail to Love, set on the Oregon trail.
Several years ago, a new book event came up – Wild Deadwood Reads. It had been a long time since I’d been to Deadwood, but I recall it being steeped in history. So, I thought, why not? I can combine selling books with staying in such an historical town.
Several events were planned. One was a ride on an 1880s train. The train trip ended in Keystone, another historic town. As our bus drove down the street, I saw a sign which read “The Balcony Girl.”
Boom, a story idea came to me. It would be set in Deadwood during the early years. Now, I didn’t know that much about Deadwood’s history, so I had to do what authors love to do – RESEARCH. I bought books (and read them all) on Deadwood. Books on the characters who lived there. I delved through pictures and got lost on the internet.
Finally, I was ready to start writing, but what year to start it in? I chose 1879 – the year a fire nearly destroyed the town. But what about a conflict? Brothels had what they called their “Balcony Girls.” They would stand on the establishment’s upper balcony in their scantily clad bodies, and call the men in.
Now prostitutes, or soiled doves, then as now, were held in the lowest esteem. Anyone, other than men, who associated with them was considered to be one of them. A “proper” woman would never acknowledge a prostitute without being scorned by society.
So, in June of 1879, Julia and Suzanne Lindstrom arrived in Deadwood from a farm in Minnesota. Suzanne was to be the new school marm. Julia came along to be with and take care of her sister. Can you imagine their thoughts when they first saw Deadwood, with its haphazard buildings, muddy streets, animals running wild, and rough men in the streets?
Julia is a seamstress, but how would she make a living in Deadwood where most of the population were men who wore their clothes until they were rags. She ends up doing what a “proper woman” would never do. She befriends a brothel madam and sews clothes for the women who work in the brothel. Of course, she has to keep what she is doing a secret – even from her sister. Not an easy task. And when a prospective suitor finds out . . . Well, you can imagine what happens.
The Balcony Girl is the first book in my “Darlings of Deadwood” series. I couldn’t stop with one book. Her sister, Suzanne, needed her own story. Then there was the sister of Suzanne’s suitor and owner of a hotel. Let’s not forget the nasty wife of one of the town’s bankers. My next one will be a female blacksmith. All strong women trying to find their way in the male-dominated west – and surviving.
When the sisters arrived, the town was still booming, but becoming more settled. Roads were still muddy, animals still roamed and Main Street divided into the ‘good side’ and the “Badlands” where the saloons and brothels were located. How would they survive?
Oh, by the way, that sign I thought said, ‘The Balcony Girl,’ actually read ‘The Balcony Grill.’
Order The Balcony Girl on Amazon.
I would love to give away one copy of “The Balcony Girl.”
To be considered to win a copy,
tell me an unusual job you’d like to see a woman in another “Darlings of Deadwood” would have.
http://www.tina-susedik.comTina Susedik is the author of forty books and anthologies including romance, history, military, and children’s books. She is an award-winning, Amazon best-selling author, and the host of “Cover to Cover with Tina.” Find her online at: