by Diane Rapp
Ginny is a “modern” English gentlewoman traveling alone in the year 1888. At the age of twenty-five, she deems herself a spinster, admitting the condition results from her own decisions. After Ginny gains control of her own money, she sets out to travel the world, hoping to publish a series of travel journals. Upon landing in San Francisco, Ginny’s aristocratic life drastically changes course when she learns that miscreants shot her twin brother, Johnny. After tending to Johnny in hospital, the gutsy woman strikes out to locate his hidden gold mine, armed with courage, a fountain pen, and two sharp hatpins.
In modern day, Kayla and Steven deal with the aftermath from the murder attempt on Kayla after their wedding. Plagued by turbulent dreams of drowning, Kayla develops a paralyzing fear of open water. She’s summoned to a dying aunt’s bedside and jumps at the chance to trade life at sea for the comforts of home in Colorado. To inherit the family legacy, Kayla must solve clues and locate the family gold mine. After reading Ginny’s journal and searching for clues scattered throughout a charming Victorian house, Kayla and her friends endeavor to find the mine.
The characters of Kayla and Steven Young first appear in the High Seas Mysteries.
“The author has done a remarkable job of successfully weaving the past and present into one story. A lot of research obviously went into descriptions of 19th century western history, lore, fashion, and technology. There is a fascinating juxtaposition of the past and present day expeditions with plenty of action and intrigue as well.”
“I salute this author for this impeccably researched, cleverly structured and deeply felt book.”
“A two-in-one story.”
CIR: What inspired this story?
RAPP: The idea began after I read A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Lucy Bird. She was a real-life Victorian woman traveling alone in the American West. When she met Gentleman Jim, I saw the potential for romance, but was disappointed by the true account. I decided to tell a different story, developing a romance between to charismatic English compatriots in a Colorado gold mine. I combined a journal written by a plucky lady in the 1880’s that would guide familiar modern characters from my High Seas Mystery Series to find a lost gold mine and gain an inheritance.
CIR: What did you enjoy most about writing this novel?
RAPP: I enjoyed writing in the persona of a woman in 1888 after I got started on the journal portion of the book. The language of that time is vivid and more varied than what we use today. The problems and attitudes were nothing like our own, so it was fun to infer that my lady might be open to new ideas in the future. She often claimed she was a “modern” woman and marveled at new inventions.
CIR: Did this require any research, and what kind?
RAPP: Little did I know I’d do so much research to create the historical journal written by a character in 1888. It was important and had to be completed first, since the journal guides the main characters in their treasure hunt. I researched the railroad routes to Colorado and about train sleeping accommodations available. I also frequently stopped writing to research ladies’ fashion, discover which everyday items had been invented, and immerse myself into the vernacular of the time period. That meant I needed to read historical novels and absorb the jargon my character might use. It took a year from start to finish to write this novel, longer than I anticipated.
CIR: Are any of the characters based on people you know?
RAPP: Yes. My daughter is the model for my main character, and her husband resembles the British detective the character married. (I got permission from her to use them, and she proudly tells her friends that the books are about her and her husband.) Of course there is a resemblance, but everything the characters do in the story is imaginary. We all lived in Colorado for a while, and I steal British jargon liberally.
CIR: Who would you cast as the main character if this were made into a movie? Why?
RAPP: That is an interesting question since my main character constantly “casts” people as famous actors in her life story. She “cast” her husband Steven as a young Pierce Brosnan when they first met. I believe Kate Hudson would be the perfect actress to play Kayla, since she is cute, has a winning smile, and quirky personality. Matt Bomer looks like a perfect fit for Steven with his gorgeous blue eyes, but he’d need to adopt a British accent for the role.