Friday, October 5, 2012

How I Researched a Western, by Cassandra Dean

Hi peeps! Cassandra Dean here, all raring to tell you lovely people about my latest novel, ROUGH DIAMOND. ROUGH DIAMOND is part of Decadent Publishing’s Western Escape, Western-themed tales centering around the fictional town of Freewill, Wyoming. My contribution is a historical, telling the tale of a lady saloon owner and a seemingly empty-headed Englishman sent to bedevil her:

Rough Diamond
Owner of the Diamond Saloon and Theater, Alice Reynolds is astounded when a fancy Englishman offers to buy her saloon. She won’t be selling her saloon to anyone, let alone a man with a pretty, empty-headed grin…but then, she reckons that grin just might be a lie, and a man of intelligence and cunning resides beneath. Rupert Llewellyn has another purpose for offering to buy the pretty widow’s saloon—the coal buried deep in land she owns. However, he never banked on her knowing eyes making him weak at the knees, or how his deception would burn upon his soul. Each determined to outwit the other, they tantalize and tease until passion explodes. But can their desire bridge the lies told and trust broken?
So, how did I go researching all the historical Western stuff?

I guess, let's start at the beginning! I'm actually from Adelaide, Australia, just about as far from Wyoming as you can get! My only exposure to the Wild West was through television and film, so that's where I started. I LOVE Deadwood, the awesomely written show starring Timothy Olyphant as dogged ex-Marshall Seth Bullock and the electrifying Ian McShane as saloon owner Al Swearengen.

When writing ROUGH DIAMOND, I had real trouble 'hearing' the Western dialect. I've not written a Western before, and hadn't really thought I ever would. My editor convinced me otherwise, and so I set about creating Alice and Rupert's tale. However, I almost immediately ran into trouble - I could 'hear' Rupert's Englishness, no problems, but Alice's Western twang eluded me.

I didn't know what to do. I bemoaned my troubles to my friend, and she suggested I borrow her Deadwood DVDS. Well! What a brilliant idea on her part! I watched all three series in a little over a week, and suddenly, the Western flavour was there. Alice's words flowed, and I felt a little more comfortable about this Western caper.

Another research tack I took (heh) was to visit Sovereign Hill. An open air, live action museum in Ballarat, Victoria, Sovereign Hill is frozen in the 1850s, a monument to Victoria's Gold Rush. Comparable to an Old West town in 1876, I used my experiences in Sovereign Hill to design my version of Freewill, relating the feeling and decor of the Victoria Theatre in ROUGH DIAMOND's Diamond Theater, using the narrow, oddly-shaped laneways for the scene of Alice and Rupert's first kiss. I had heaps of fun in Sovereign Hill, and it was kind of a bonus that I could use it for research as well!

Other odds and sods of research I did arose as I wrote. Alice uses a fountain pen in the opening scene - did fountain pens actually exist in 1876? Straight to Google. Oh. Yes, they did. How did they mine coal? Google. Oh. Okay, cool, will incorporate that. Need a small coaling town in Wales - yep, you guessed it. Google. So basically, I would have an idea and then I would make sure it was actually possible. Fun times with researching!

So I guess that's pretty much how I rolled with the research on ROUGH DIAMOND. Lots of Googling! :D

I hope you peeps enjoyed this post, and that you enjoy ROUGH DIAMOND even more! Cassandra Dean Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter 
You can purchase ROUGH DIAMOND from: Decadent | Smashwords | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble and many other good eBook retailers

1 comment:

Cassandra Dean said...

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Melissa! :D