Monday, August 5, 2013
Is that you, universe?
So, when a publisher actually asks you to write something for them, what do you say?
a) It's not really a period of history that I'm familiar with.
b) It sounds like a lot of research.
c) I'm not sure I'm the right person for the job.
d) HELL YES!
If you answered d, you are like me. Dive straight on in and worry about getting those pesky "facts" right later.
So the project in question is for my pseudonym. She's been busy this year, so much so that I've neglected my other writing. But I don't regret it. It's nice to get a cheque every month, right?
Anyway, a publisher asked me to write a Western.
Here is a list of things I know nothing about:
1. The American West
3. Gold mining
5. The Oregon Trail
7. All of the above and much more
A story set in a city in the 1800s? Easy as. But a story set on the frontier? Um...what's the difference between a state and a territory anyway? And also, what did cowboys actually do?
But it's okay. You don't want to weigh down a story with too much detail. It's a romance, right? It's about the people, and the thing with people is we're much the same as we ever were. Different social mores and attitudes, but the same basic needs, desires and hopes. But not the same underwear.
Anyway, I researched a bit about Wyoming in the 1860s and decided that yep, that was perfect. And while there is a lot of information out there on life in the Old West, much of it is spurious at best. Because, you know, what did a shot of whiskey cost in 1860? Anywhere between 10 and 75 cents, apparently, but that really doesn't narrow it down much.
And then, just when I was thinking I'd never find just the right little details to pull this thing together, I got a sign from the universe. And the sign said "Antique and Secondhand Books". And it was on a shop. And inside the shop I found this:
Sections include clothing, horse trappings, transportation, and firearms. It could not be more perfect.
Cheers, universe. I owe you one.
P.S. If you could also supply me with some beta readers who know their stuff when it comes to the Old West, that would be great.
What's your luckiest research find?