Beneath the Covers is proud to present award winning writer Paty Jager.
How a Story Can Take a Twist
Rosemary, Thank you for having me on your blog today.
I’m an eclectic writer. I find sticking to one genre gets boring, so I hop back and forth between genres. I write historical and contemporary western romance, historical paranormal romance (Native American stories) and contemporary action adventure with romantic elements. While I genre surf, I always have a western or Native American element in my stories.
The book that just released is Laying Claim, a book set in 1898 in Alaska and the Yukon during the gold rush. The idea to write a book set during this time and in this setting came to me years ago when I visited our daughter in Ketchikan, Alaska. At the time I was intrigued by the history of that town and grabbed up all the books in their book store on the history of the area. That started the juices bubbling about setting a story in Alaska.
Several years later for our thirtieth anniversary, my husband and I took an Alaskan cruise. This time it was Skagway and the Chilkoot and White Pass trails that caught my attention and made me start spinning scenes in my head.
When I wrote the end of Logger in Petticoats the fifth Halsey brother book, I put in that Jeremy, the brother to the heroine in the first book, Marshal in Petticoats, had headed to Alaska looking for gold. After the last book, I started getting emails from readers wanting more Halsey books. Having sent Jeremy to Alaska it was a no-brainer that his story would take place in the Alaska and Yukon gold country.
The book started out with him discovering there was more money to be made by transporting goods for the greedy gold seekers and he started a packing operation. The book opens with him having made his fortune packing and is ready to head home. Only along comes a pretty, strong-willed, bit of a woman who is determined to get to the Yukon interior and find her brother. No amount of persuasion from Jeremy can get her to change her mind. He can’t ignore how he was brought up and he hires on as her guide.
This is where the story had to take a twist I hadn’t planned. I wanted him to use his pack string to cross the White Pass and show the carnage of the poor horses who didn’t make it over the pass. But upon researching, I discovered the winter that came right after the word got out about the biggest strike in the Klondike was also the worst winter in the gold rush history. That meant, even horses couldn’t get over the pass after feet of snow were dumped.
Plan B: When the heroine, Clara, makes an enemy of the villainous man running most of Skagway at the time, Jeremy has to get her out of town quickly when there is a slight break in the storm. To do this he trades his pack string for two dog teams and six sleds. And from there the action begins.
This proves even with the best laid plans for a story, if you don’t get all the historical facts before planning a book, it can take a twist you didn’t see coming, but in the long run can make for just as entertaining a read.
Blurb for Laying Claim: Jeremy Duncan commits to haul one last load of supplies across the great interior of the Yukon before heading home. But, he has to trade his pack animals for sled dogs and leave Skagway in the middle of a blizzard due to one strong-willed, business-minded beauty.
Determined to find her older brother, Clara Bixbee doesn’t care how she gets across the pass, as long as she does, and soon. Hiring handsome pack guide Jeremy Duncan seems to be her best choice. Especially after she saves a young girl being beaten by the local gang leader and needs to escape Skagway fast.
“Who’s there?” a female voice questioned through the wood barrier.
“I have a trunk for a Clara Bixbee.”
The door swung open. A girl stood in the opening.
No. A girl didn’t fill out the front of a dress like this one did. But she was small. Tinier even than his sister, and she barely came to his shoulder.
“It’s about time you brought my trunk. I’ve been waiting hours for it to arrive.” Her green eyes snapped with anger.
“I don’t know who you asked to pick this up, but I found two thieves rummaging through it on the beach and saved it.”
She gasped, then her small pink mouth set in a grim line. “I paid the clerk downstairs to have someone bring it to me.”
No wonder the man had a startled look on his face when Jeremy hauled the trunk up the stairs. “Where would you like me to put it?”
The woman stepped back, opening the door wider. “I cleared a spot over there. I’ve yet to meet my roommate but will have a word with her about this mess when she comes back.”
Jeremy set the trunk on the floor and turned to the woman. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a working woman’s bun, but her clothes, the ones she had on and the ones he’d sifted through in the trunk, were not working-class clothes.
She stood with her hands on her hips, her head tipped back, eyeing him. “How did you know this was my trunk?”
“After I chased the men off, I took it to my livery where I had some light and looked through it until I found the Bible with your name in it. Then I left it in safekeeping and started asking for you at the hotels.”
Her smooth, creamy skin flushed a deep pink. “You went through my trunk?”
“Would you rather I left it to the thieves who wouldn’t have brought it to you even after they took all they wanted from it?” While the woman was soothing on the eyes, he wasn’t keen on her attitude.
She gasped and dropped to her knees in front of the trunk. Her tiny fingers clasped the broken latch where a key had most likely locked the box. She unclasped the other latches and dug down to the bottom of the trunk shoving the clothing, causing them to spill over the sides.
Jeremy watched in fascination as she burrowed into the contents. She pulled out an oilcloth jacket and pushed her hand into a pocket. A smile crept across her face. Her hand reappeared empty. He’d guess she had money stashed in that coat.
He cleared his throat and she jumped. In her urgency to make sure she hadn’t been robbed, she’d forgotten he was still in the room.
“Jeremy Duncan. Miss…?” He hoped she didn’t say she was married. It would be a shame to have rifled through a married woman’s unmentionables. It would make fanaticizing about her not near as much fun.
“Bixbee.” She frowned. “You know my name. Why are you asking?”
He smiled. “Just figuring out if you’re married.”
“I am not, and it isn’t proper for you to be in my room.” She pushed to her feet and stood, again, with her hands on her narrow hips.
Jeremy nodded to the open door. “The door isn’t closed so you haven’t been compromised.”
Meet Paty Jager:
With sixteen published books, three novellas, and an anthology, award-winning author, Paty Jager is never at a loss for story ideas and characters in her head. Her rural life in central and eastern Oregon, and interests in local history and the world around her, keeps the mystery and romance ideas flowing. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
You can learn more about Paty at her blog; www.patyjager.blogspot.com her website; http://www.patyjager.net or on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager and twitter; @patyjag.