This picture is one I recently shared with my publisher to reflect a sense of my historical novel, Keeping Faith, which is coming out in September. Set in 1855, when wagon trains were still traveling west, the novel has characters heading for Kansas Territory instead of California or Oregon. I didn't want to focus so much on the full journey across country, but on a story taking place in an isolated area of Missouri, where I already know the lay of the land, knew the kinds of characters I could have there, and could easily research the history of the region.
As mentioned on another recent blog, when a friend of mine asked me why I'd chosen to start including historical novels in my offerings, I told her I wanted to have a chance to go back in time, imagine the feel of a different land without highways, modern buildings, airplanes, cell phones and the computerized world we live in. Yes, times were more difficult in many ways in the past, but they were also simpler in other ways. People weren't too distracted by texting strangers to spend time with family. Though they couldn't get to a phone in 1855 to call for help, they also couldn't be located via satellite by the villains.
I set my first historical novel in 1944. It was more fun than I expected, though it still had a modern feel to it, so I set my next one in 1901. That was nice, because there were no automobiles. There were, however, trains. So the one I just finished, set in 1855, has no trains. People used animals for transportation, or they walked. Folks were pretty much on their own, and information didn't travel quickly. I would probably have hated living in that time, but I believe I would have wanted to venture west, despite the hardships involved.
What about you? If you had a chance to travel back in time, what time would you choose, and why?
Labels: historical novels, old West, Wagon trains