both through archaeology and through historical novels, has
always been a fascination of mine. I had originally
planned to be an archaeological linguist, with visions of
spending my entire working life in the musty basements of
museums and universities deciphering and translating ancient
writings. Years of studying and reading about history
filled me with the belief that our ancestors were exactly like
us in every way except their circumstances.
What attracted me the most
strongly was not wars, revolutions, or uprisings, but how
people got through each day in situations we don't have to
deal with today. Most of the books I
read dealt with social upheavals of one kind and another, not
with ordinary every-day life.
historical events took attention away from the characters.
In order to be able
to read the stories that I found the most satisfying, I began
to write them.
The All Manor
of Yarns trilogy
is set in 1860 because that was the only year I could find
that had no wars, revolutions, or uprisings anywhere in
The setting was chosen
because I could not find any novels set in Kaiserlich Prussia.
There were novels set in Victorian England, in Tsarist Russia,
and in antebellum United States, all of which were
contemporary with Kaiserlich Prussia, and all of which were
slightly different from each other and from Prussia. Kaiserlich Prussia is a little known and little explored
setting, a new and different place to read about.
The place itself was chosen
to be on the western side of the large bend in the Oder River
because that topographical feature is so distinct that it
shows up on even the smallest maps, and is a feature that has
barely changed since the Ice melted.
I began to research the
setting, the daily lives of the people of the time and place,
and the political events taking place at the time, and began
to write a historical novel.
Five years of research
before I had enough information to put pen to paper on the
story, then two years of writing, continuing the research as I
went. I started
Yarns in 1984 as my family was
growing up, working on the preparation until 1989, and finally
finished writing it in 1991. I then set it aside and
worked on other writing until 1993 when I picked it back up
and began to edit it. The original version of
Yarns was worked, edited, and polished with the help of my
writing group, family and friends, then set aside again as I
worked to edit and polish the other writing.
Finally, in 2001, I rewrote
Yarns. By that time all of my children were
grown and gone, and I was living alone with my cats. The
rewrite was finished in 6 months, resulting in a story of a
group of people dealing with age old questions of life.
What do you do if your dreams don't come true? What do
you do if they do? How do you set your priorities?
How can you be everything to everyone, and if you can't, how
do you chose what to let go? What do you do when two
things that both seem morally right cancel each other out, so
that whichever one you do, you are doing something morally
wrong? What were the effects of the drugs of the day on
the ordinary people of the day? And so on. Lots of
questions. Ordinary people dealing with the same
problems we all have in our lives, but dealing with them in a
fresh new setting that we rarely get to see.