As a lifelong learner, my curiosity has been an asset as I developed the Beck Family Saga. Each book has required research into topics that weren’t usually on my radar.
Rosie the Riveter is familiar to many people. (She’s even got her own national park in Richmond, California: (https://www.nps.gov/rori/index.htm). The story of women working in factories as men went off to war doesn’t begin and end with her. The idea of having a parallel story of CJ Beck’s grandmother intrigued me, so I did some research as I wrote Home Is Where the Heart Is. It turned out that Great Falls, Montana, was the scene of a lot of factory jobs for women.
My mother was in her twenties in the 1940s, so I had lots a photos from the era to draw on for women’s styles. It was a glamorous era!
Finding Home led me into the world of training horses for rodeo. Even as a kid, barrel racing and calf roping were exciting events to watch. At age seven I was quite determined to be a cowboy when I grew up. (Nope, not a cowgirl.) My dad gave me the biggest treat of my life when he took me to the rodeo featuring the TV stars of “Annie Oakley” and “Rin Tin Tin.” (See a playbook of the event here: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/rodeo-ad-poster-vintage-annie-oakley-rin-tin)
I was already a knitter and spinner when I started Leaving Home, so that didn’t require a great deal of research. But my knowledge of raising alpacas (I love their fleece!) was limited. One of my friends from my computer days had become a knitter who developed and sold patterns. She blessed me with a pattern for the book. (https://www.ravelry.com/designers/brenda-castiel)
An article in Nature Conservancy magazine sparked the idea of Coming Home. While I generally knew of the problems facing our veterans as they return home, I needed to uncover details of what they faced. The subject of the interview in the magazine was gracious with her time. The conservancy is actively recruiting veterans, but she spoke of the difficulties of working for an organization whose culture didn’t always mesh well with her background in the military.
For this book, I also had to understand the techniques and equipment that could be used by a disabled person to fly fish. Project Healing Waters (https://projecthealingwaters.org/) was also gracious with their time to provide background for Coming Home.
Starting for Home was definitely a challenge! Not only were my main characters climbers, they also worked in an oil field in Wyoming. So much research! I have to admit learning about climbing was much more fun than learning about pump jacks. Much as I love the idea of challenging my body to scale a cliff, I’m simply not built to hoist my leg over my head! (https://mojagear.com/rock-climbing-destination-guide-information-lander-wyoming/)
As I wrapped up the series with Finally Home, I knew I had to solve the mystery of the mine that I’d teased my readers with throughout the saga. And of course, that meant a lot of digging (ahem) into mining. Montana is known as the Treasure State, so there were lots of possibilities to choose from. And because it’s a mining state, there have been numerous environmental (https://clarkfork.org/our-work/what-we-do/restore-the-best/confluence/) and human (https://www.asbestos.com/jobsites/libby/) disasters.
Fortunately, there are people working to extract the elements we need without destroying the planet in the process. You’ll have to read the book to find out who they are.
I hope you enjoy the series. If you would like a free sneak peak of the series, click here to get a free copy of Crossroads, a novella that takes place in the small town of Choteau, Montana on the edge of the Rocky Mountain Front.
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