Since mail order brides are a popular staple for historical fiction, I brainstormed for a different twist. First of all, I wanted to write a Christmas story. I’m not sure what sparked my interest in mining towns, except that few headed to the mine fields with women. What if the gold had petered out, and they’re looking for a way to change from camp to a town? And what if I had 12 grooms looking for brides, like the 12 days of Christmas?
So I researched gold strikes, looking for a strike around the right time (1870s) and place that I would feel comfortable writing: the Black Hills Gold Rush from the 1870s, spanning South Dakota and Wyoming. I created a fictional town, Angel Vale, in Crook County, Wyoming. So I had my setting and my heroes.
For my heroines, I turned to the Bible for inspiration. Jake (my hero, and the man who helped bring the brides to Wyoming) promised his father that he would seek a wife from his mother’s home town, Merville, Maine. I deliberately echoed the biblical reference of Abraham sending Eliezer to find a bride for Isaac by using names of the patriarchs for my couple—Jake and Becky. Just as Jake helped send for the brides, Becky helped the women decide to answer their request.
My novella, Jacob’s Christmas Dream, began as a lengthy novel about 12 mail order brides. I soon realized each couple deserved their own story, and formed a group of authors: Susan Page Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Brandi Boddie, Jennifer AlLee, Teresa Ives Sowell.
One last thought: In the initial stages of planning, I had to choose forty-eight names: first and last names for twelve couples. To avoid confusion, I used almost every letter of the alphabet to give each person a unique first initial. I didn’t completely succeed, but we have a variety of names for certain!
Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma near her son’s family. Her interests include playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II. For a chance to win a free copy of Jacob’s Christmas Dream, click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1156156441067022/. One out of every seven entries will win a copy.