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Setting

April 4, 2010

My work in progress, Hidden Truths, is set in 1868. The first chapter takes place in Boston, where we meet Hendrika Aaldenberg, who is called “Rika.” In case anyone is wondering: no, that’s not a German name. Her family is Dutch. I got one of my test readers, who is Dutch, to pronounce the name for me. (Thanks, M.!)

Click here to listen.

Now you know why I didn’t give Rika German ancestors. The Dutch accent is so much more charming than a German accent! 🙂

In 1868, the Great Boston Fire hadn’t yet happened. Gas streetlights lined the cobblestone-paved streets. Horse-drawn streetcars ran on rails. During the Civil War, women had started doing some of the work that had formerly been done by men. For the first time, Boston’s women were employed in offices and factories.

My main character, Rika, works in a cotton mill. The mill girls often worked 14-hour days in the lint-filled air of the weave room and the deafening noise of the power looms.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

The Hamiltons are living on their ranch in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, breeding Appaloosas, the spotted horses who were bred by the Nez Perce. They come in many different coat patterns.

In 1868, the big race to connect the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads was well on its way.

Traffic on the Oregon Trail would soon dwindle. The railroad also had an impact on horse breeding. While you might think that the railroad would replace horses and ruin horse breeders, it was just the opposite. Horses helped build the railroads and transported laborers and later passengers to and from the stations. The need for draft horses increased, so the Hamiltons want to add a few Percherons to their breeding program. To earn enough money to buy draft horses, Luke brings a dozen Appaloosas to Fort Boise, traveling along some of the same landmarks that she passed with Nora seventeen years ago.

One of the landmarks Luke passes are the Celilo Falls, which today, after the construction of a dam, no longer exist.

An influx of miners to the Boise area caused a series of skirmishes with the Shoshone, making Luke’s journey much more dangerous.

While Luke is away, the now 21-year-old Amy is running the ranch, not an easy task for a woman in 1868, especially not since it’s foaling season and they need to brand their stock and bring in the hay.

I’ll blog more later about how I incorporated all these settings, facts, and details into the story.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Jae

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One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing all this background information! How do you go about uncovering these details?



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