History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

25 February 2011

Lady Lavender: The post-publication glow

After many long months of angst and annoyance, I’m happy to report that my new book, Lady Lavender, is at last on the shelves! Angst and Annoyance because it’s been three years since my previous book (Templar Knight, Forbidden Bride) was published, and I have the sweat and frown-lines to document each and every month of the interim period.

But no matter, the novel is here and I am celebrating.

Lady Lavender is a western historical romance about an immigrant French woman on the frontier trying to grow lavender (yes, they grew it in Oregon) to support herself and her 4-year-old daughter. The problem is the Oregon Central Railroad and the dishy exec it sends to gobble up her land, and her lavender field, by laying shiny steel rails right down the middle of it.

Hence, a romance blooms. For me, the “romance” derives not only from Jeanne and Colonel Halliday and their struggles, but from the early 1900's, when my mother was a young woman raised on a ranch in Douglas County, Oregon. I’ve visited the old Banning homestead, seen the barn my grandfather built - still standing but listing badly after all these decades. I’ve researched the Deer Creek School where my mother and her brother and sister went to school, tramped over the hills and meadows where she rode her horse and picnicked, and reveled in the feel of the land, the smell of the trees, and the whispers of long-ago stories.

The tiny town of Dixonville, Oregon, is the setting for my very first book, Western Rose (and most of my 16 subsequent works). Now there’s only a moss-kissed split rail fence and a post office - general store, but then . . .

Then it was alive with stories handed down from my grandmother and grandfather, Leora and Claude Banning, which grew into wild tales and imaginings about dramatic confrontations, dangerous exploits, and enduring love stories. And ended up as the characters in my stories. Western Rose, for instance, was based on the rather oddball courtship of my grandparents, both of whom grew up on Douglas County ranches.

Now I have a Big Fat Confession to make: recently I re-read this first work, Western Rose, and found that I still like it! I also re-read a later work, The Ranger and the Redhead. Ditto. O frabjous day!

Maybe I’ll work up the courage to re-read Lady Lavender. In the meantime, I’ve fallen in love with yet another story from that era and my favorite Oregon setting, and . . .

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Blogger Patricia Preston said...

Sounds like a wonderful story!

8:05 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Picked Lady Lavender up the other day and have it on my TBR tower of books! I love that the setting is a place that means so much to you! Can't wait to read it!

6:19 AM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

Oh, congrats. It feels so good when a book releases!!!

5:19 PM  

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