Originally, I was contracted to write a non-fiction book about The Old West. Easy enough. I’ve spent many years in both Oklahoma and Arizona — about as Old West as it gets. Wagon trains, cattle drives, pioneers … the only problem was narrowing the subject down to the allotted word count.
Then, everything changed. The book was now to be historical fiction. No problem. I’ve written historical fiction. My middle grade novel, MYTH RIDER — coming in February 2015 — is historical fiction. The problem was that we still wanted to include numerous elements of the Old West. It was a leveled book with a limited number of words so the focus had to be one event. How could we get train robbers and lawmen, settlers, cattle drives, merchants, and Indians in one short story? Where would these people all meet up?
I came up with the idea of writing about the Oklahoma land run. People from all walks of life were there. All I needed was a storyline.
This is where my great editors at Reading a-z nudged me in the right direction. We wanted lots of stories told from lots of people. Use a third-person omnipresent viewpoint, they suggested. Let’s meet each person while they are waiting for the opening shot to make the run. Think Madame Bovary.
Madame Bovary for kids?? Okay, not the storyline. The storytelling.
I struggled a little (maybe a little more than a little). It seemed to me that we needed a central character who touched each other character. Preferably a child. I wanted a beginning, an arc, a connection between characters. But they convinced me otherwise.
I wrote the book. Rewrote the book. I love it! This was definitely a collaboration that worked. I knew what I wanted to write about. The editors helped me find just the right way to tell the story. Thank you Karen and Rus!