My guest today is Diane Rapp, sharing about her inspiration for her new release, GOLDEN LEGACY. Take it away, Diane!
I find it interesting to know what prompts an author to write about a specific idea, character, or situation. The idea for my newest novel, GOLDEN LEGACY, began in the 1990s after my family moved to Ridgway, Colorado and became acquainted with its neighbor Ouray. My architect husband designed a bank in Ouray that needed to resemble old-time buildings in the town, so we spent a lot of time exploring.
The spectacular mountains surrounding the mining towns of Telluride and Ouray are part of the San Juan Mountain range. Towns sprang up to support the intrepid miners who searched for gold, silver, and other minerals in treacherous granite cliffs. The history of the area prompted me to read real-life accounts written by women; TOMBOY BRIDE, and FATHER STRUCK IT RICH were vivid accounts of women who lived near Telluride and Ouray during mining days. Then I discovered a copy of Isabella Lucy Bird’s travels through Colorado, A LADY’S LIFE IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. Miss Bird was an English gentlewoman, the daughter of a minister, who traveled alone during the 1800s, a rough-and-tumble time in Colorado history. She initiated her journey from San Francisco and later visited Denver and the mountains around the area that became the Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park and Boulder.
Real-life accounts are bound by reality. During her adventure, Miss Bird encountered an English ex-patriot, a ruggedly handsome man with a “reputation for violence and hard drinking” in the mountains. His English manners immediately emerged when he interacted Miss Bird. As I read the account, I saw the real potential for a romance and the chance to reform this man. True to real life, the romance never blossomed, which was very disappointing!
During the years since my first exposure to Miss Bird’s narrative, I considered how I would rewrite the story, developing a romance between two charismatic English compatriots and making the story more dramatic. After completing the third novel in my High Seas Mystery series, I decided it might be fun to transport those familiar characters into the magnificent mountains of Colorado. (After all, Kayla lived in Colorado and returned there to recover from a gunshot wound.) What better story than searching for a lost gold mine, following clues from a journal written by a plucky ancestor from the 1880s?
Little did I realize when I initiated the project how much research would be necessary to write an account of a character in 1888. I confirmed railroad routes to Ouray, Colorado, learned about train sleeping accommodations, and frequently stopped writing to research ladies’ fashions or check on items that had been invented by 1888. As I immersed myself into the vernacular of the time period, I read historical novels to absorb the jargon.
After the journal was complete, I thought it would be easier to write the modern-day portion of the story. I was wrong. I discovered that modern-day language felt less colorful and dull. I needed to incorporate danger and excitement into the modern story, but I also needed to mesh the two narratives together in a believable manner. I decided that Kayla must read her ancestor’s journal in order to pass a test to inherit the family legacy. I built a “family tree” from Ginny down to Kayla, using dates and approximate life-cycles to determine how many women might have already completed the family quest. By establishing names and brief histories for each woman, I could incorporate a back story for family members to drop into the storyline.
While my husband and I lived in Ridgway, we toured the Bachelor Mine and drove over scary Jeep trails, but I needed photos to complete my tale. The beautiful Beaumont Hotel would become a central landmark in my story. The building was beautifully renovated, so I contacted the current owners to ask for photos. Jennifer Leaver was kind enough to supply me with a treasure-trove of old-time and current photos to use in the book. Lake Como is a sparkling turquoise gem, deep in the mountains. I needed a beautiful photo to use in the book. Again I was lucky, Rose Krohn Epps gave me a license to use her vivid photo for the book, advertising, and articles about the book. I took time to “colorize” the old-time photos to make them pop in Kindles that show color.
I encourage readers to visit my website page for GOLDEN LEGACY bit.ly/1kpMy6U and enjoy the color slide show of pictures used in the book (Lake Como appears on the back cover of the print edition). The e-book and print edition are now available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1Pq9foR. Consider reading and reviewing my year-long project as the story became close to my heart. If you leave a review, e-mail me with the permalink for the review through the website and qualify for a free short story.