Thursday, January 6, 2011

Researching History

Every author gets a stinker of a review once in a while. It goes with the job. Of course—people have different tastes and what a lot of people think is great is slammed occasionally by someone else who has a variety of reasons for disliking a book.

That said, I offer the following. This appeared in reference to Harper’s Bride on Nook.

“It's not the worst thing I ever read, but it's surely not the best. If you don't mind relatively bland romantic writing, then try it. Rather than becoming immersed in the story, I found myself questioning the conveniences used within the time period of the story. Like: Did the Yukon really have access to electricity in the late 1800s? Is it feasible that automobiles were common among the rich in NW Canada during the time of the main character's youth?”

Now then. When I write a book, I do a lot of extensive research. I don’t want to be wrong so there’s a lot of double-checking involved. Because I write fiction, being wrong could be compared to lying or fabrication. Nope, nope, nope. Sure, I've created fictional towns so I could make up what I wanted to. But the Yukon gold rush was among one of the most notable events of the end of the nineteenth century. A number of successful people got their starts with gold they mined in Canada. Johan (John) Nordstrom comes to mind. He opened his first shoe store in Seattle with the money he made on his claim.

Harper’s Bride is a favorite among my readers and most of those readers don’t share the opinion of the one quoted above. But just so there’s no misunderstanding, yes, Dawson City did have electricity. Belinda Mulroney’s Fairview Hotel, which is mentioned in my book, received the electricity for its rooms from a yacht anchored in the Yukon River (The Klondike Fever by Pierre Burton).

“By the end of the year [1898], Dawson had telephones, electric lights, and moving pictures.” (Time-Life Books, The Miners).

These are just two of the references I have ready access to right now. After all, I wrote that book in 1997.

As for automobiles being common among wealthy NW Canadians during Dylan Harper’s youth . . . well, I didn't write that. He didn’t grow up there and neither did Melissa Harper. That reference was to life in Oregon. There isn’t much I can do about how the words get from the page or screen into a reader’s mind.

So—if you like Harper’s Bride, and many of you have told me you do, do me a favor. Let your voices be heard here:

I realize this is an unusual request and one I’ve never asked of anyone before, but I stand by my research.


  1. I posted my review today - Harper's Bride has always been one of my favorites! - Ann Vlahakis

  2. Alexis:

    I will read Harper's Bride next and post a review. I have three of your on my Kindle, so this one will be the next one.

    I hate it when readers do that. I'm working on a story set in Ireland at the time of the Easter Rising, and it's the most demanding as far as research, of any I've done, mostly because the time is recent enough you can't afford artistic license. You have to research everything, right down to car colors. I know you'd have done your research for this.

  3. Suzanne, fortunately there is a TON of research info out there about Ireland. That conflict is 700 years old and plenty of history has been recorded. I know you'll do well; keep me up to date with this project.

  4. I love your books Alexis! My favorite are the bridal veil, harper's bride and home by morning! I plan to read a lot more of your books. Are you writing one now? Keep up the excellent work!

  5. Thai, come to my website and have a look!