Saturday, June 22, 2013

Walking in Wallace

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing a writer of historical fiction is creating a sense of time and place. How do you write about a time that occurred decades before your own and a place you've seen mostly from a freeway? The answer is simple. You research the time and, if you have the opportunity, you visit the place.

This week, I had the opportunity to visit the place. I paid not one, but two visits to Wallace, Idaho, the setting of The Fire, my next novel. I found the community every bit as fascinating in person as I had found it in literature.

The town is different, of course, than it was in August 1910, when it stared down the largest wildfire in U.S. history and captured the nation's imagination. It is smaller, less commercial, and far more touristy. It serves primarily as a stopping point for motorists, skiers, and bicyclists riding the famed Route of the Hiawatha and the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.

You don't have to walk far, however, to see that Wallace is more than a pit stop on Interstate 90. It's a living museum, with numerous attractions that celebrate everything from its rich mining heritage to the actions of heroes like Ed Pulaski, a forest ranger who saved forty firefighters by leading them into a mine and holding them there at gunpoint.

Of most interest to me as a writer were the buildings in town. Many of the oldest structures still stand, thanks in part to preservation efforts and the city's designation as a National Historic District. When you walk through Wallace, you see the town not only as it is today but also as it was in the past.

You see the brick facades on Bank Street, the row houses on Cedar, the courthouse that withstood the inferno, and the original Northern Pacific Railroad depot, where hundreds once gathered to catch rescue trains. You see Wallace in 1910, when it became part of history, lore, and literature.

I hope to use what I've learned to convey the same sense of time and place when I publish The Fire. The fourth book in the Northwest Passage series is still scheduled for a September release.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Reviews and revisions

There is undoubtedly a point where every author stops reading the reviews of his or her works. The reviews become too numerous or, in some cases, too painful to read.

I am not one of those authors. I take the time to read every one. I love getting feedback from those who enjoy my books and constructive criticism from those who can help me improve as a writer. Both are important.

Rachel of The Reading Cafe offers two of the better reviews of late with a double take on The Mine and The Show, the Nos. 1 and 3 books of the Northwest Passage series. Each novel will be featured on an ebook site next week and offered at a reduced price, with The Mine going on sale Sunday and The Show Monday and Tuesday.

Work continues on The Fire, book four of the series. I have finished a complete rough draft and will spend most of the summer revising it. I expect to have the novel out by the third week of September.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

IRDA winners

Today the winners of the third-annual Indie Reader Discovery Awards were announced. The Mine fell short of an award in the Popular Fiction category but was among the books receiving a positive review. A list of the winners in each genre can be found here. Author Hugh Howey will announce the results of the competition at the Book Expo America in New York this Saturday.