If The West Doesn't Kill You...
At sunset, Travis and Hillerman reached St. Joseph, a smattering of buildings perched on the grassy eastern bank of the Missouri River. Thousands of people were already encamped around the frontier town. Tired as the two travelers were, the sight of countless glittering campfires sprinkled across the low rolling hills fueled them with energy. As they drew closer to the expanded town, a cacophony of guitars, banjos, and voices reached their ears. The emigrants played and sang the raucous, popular melodies of the day, as well as the occasional staid church hymn, all at the same time. Here and there the popular Christy’s Minstrels tune “Oh! Susanna” was belted out, but an intent listener would have noticed that, now and then, the destination named in the song was not Louisiana but rather California. In fact, new versions of the song had been written, in which a young man with a gold pan on his knee said goodbye to the poor forlorn Susanna and set out for the West.
~ Excerpt from WEST FROM THE CRADLE, Brigid Amos' latest release from Clean Reads! ~
If the West doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.
Travis Cooper was not meant to be a prospector. Small for his age, he has never been much help on the family farm in Missouri. How could he survive the journey west to take up such backbreaking work? But when he sees a copy of the California Star in the fall of 1848, everything changes. One shining word jumps off the page: GOLD! Now staying alive is a struggle. Keeping his partner from getting himself killed is even harder!
Brigid Amos’ young adult historical fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. Her first novel, A Fence Around Her, was published by Clean Reads in 2016. A produced playwright, she co-founded the Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the boards of Angels Theatre Company and Women Writing the West. She is also an active member the Nebraska Writers Guild. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart behind in the California Gold Country, most of it is in Lincoln, Nebraska where she currently lives with her husband.
I had the wonderful opportunity ask Brigid a few questions about her writing process and stories. Here's what she had to say:
Who's your favorite character in WEST FROM THE CRADLE?
My favorite character in West from the Cradle is my protagonist Travis Cooper. When I used to hike through the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California, dreaming of writing a book about the Gold Rush, Travis was the first character that appeared to me. I saw this young man astride a horse, looking down from a ridge upon a valley of Ponderosa Pine, Manzanita, and Madrone. In my mind, this optimistic and enthusiastic young man had just arrived from a farm in the Midwest and was looking with hope upon his future. If you read the novel, you will imagine something quite different. Perhaps you will see Travis barely able to walk, leading the mule he purchased in Fort Laramie, all his remaining possessions packed on her back. But the enthusiasm and optimism are still there, despite all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles he has faced on the trail west. Travis is my favorite character because he rises to a challenge while remaining humble. He is a survivor while maintaining his good heart. And most importantly, he is the best kind of friend a person could have. He would risk everything, even his own life, to save his friend. Who wouldn’t love someone like that?
What are your favorite and least favorite things about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is how I feel after a productive writing session. I can only describe this feeling as euphoric. This feeling doesn’t last of course, but I know I can always get it back by opening up a notebook and clicking a pen. I suppose this is addictive behavior, but I thank God for such a healthy addiction!
There is nothing I don’t like about the actual act of writing. I even enjoy revision. However, the editing process before publication, in which every little comma must be properly placed and every adverb assessed can make writing feel like work. I think this is because at that point, there is less creativity involved. As a writer, I so appreciate those who actually enjoy editing. I was at the Nebraska Writers Guild booth on Labor Day, and a woman who told me how much she loved editing stopped by. I must have been looking at her as if she were an alien from another planet, an exotic creature whose thought process I could never understand. I’m at my best while scribbling with abandon in a notebook and everything that pours out is new and exciting. Not so much when I’m trying to make it perfect on a computer screen.
Thank you for sharing your passion for those characters and your craft, Brigid!
Brigid Amos' newest release, WEST FROM THE CRADLE, has hit shelves everywhere, and if you're a fan of historical fiction, you'll want to grab this one quick!
Click on the link below to download today!
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/west-from-the-cradle-brigid-amos/1126943650?ean=2940158732119
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Brigid will be giving away one FREE copy of her book to one participant who comments on this blog post. Winner will be chosen at random by October 13th. Simply comment on this post to enter!
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