Julie writes historical fiction. Here, she treats us to a bit about her process, her inspiration, and the tough road women traveled in the American Old West.
Take it away, Julie:
Thank you, Karen, for hosting me on your blog. I’m happy to talk a bit about the inspiration for my upcoming release, The Three Widows of Wylder, a historical fiction that takes place in the American Old West. There are three main characters in this story, as the title implies, and each gets their own chapter in alternating fashion. Early on, their stories merge as they join up to escape their pasts.
I’ve had shadows of these characters in my mind for a few years, with the overarching story inspired by a few people I know. The characters are nothing like the real people I’ve known. When a real person inspires a character, the inspiration could come from a brief conversation or the way someone views life. It could be evoked by a physical quirk or the way someone laughs at their own jokes. Often, that’s enough to get my imagination into gear.
In this story, the women have complicated pasts with secrets to hide. They band together in a disharmonious goal to reach safety. In their previous lives, these are women who would never become friends, but their plights compel them to work together.
This story is part of a broader series my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, has produced, where each book is set in the fictional town of Wylder, in the old Wyoming Territory. In 1882 when my book is set, Wyoming was truly the Old West and under a huge change. The area attracted a huge mix of people, from adventurers seeking lands to explore to ranchers to outlaws. I’ve always been intrigued with how difficult women had it during this time, and how hard they had to struggle to have any independence at all. For the most part, their existence was ruled by the men in their lives. These themes, too, play a large role in this novel.
Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth.
“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”
The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.
Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”
The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.
“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.
They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”
As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.
“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”
Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”
About the author:
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime mystery series and Spirited Quest paranormal mystery series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and editor of the Potato Soup Journal.
Find Julie on social media:
Follow her on Instagram: @authorjuliehoward
Buy links for The Three Widows of Wylder: