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Spoiler alert! Read this after you've read A Dream Unfolding.

A Dream Unfolding - Author's Note

Now for my favorite part of the book – the Author’s Note.  I love this part because it’s where my favorite authors have clued me in to what is historical fact versus imagination.  It’s that nice little bit of closure.

When I started writing my debut novel, I knew two things: one, that it would have something to do with Prescott, Arizona, and two, that someone would die.  In fact, the first scene I wrote was the avalanche scene in the middle of the book, which changed very little through revisions and editing.  The raw emotion came from my reaction to my mother’s unexpected passing almost ten years ago.  There was much healing in the act of writing that scene.  I hope if you have lost a loved one that this scene and this book has somehow helped with your healing process.

As a transplant to the great state of Arizona, I learned quickly that I knew very little about the history of the state.  Once I discovered the state became a territory in the middle of the Civil War, the ideas for this book began to take shape.  I researched the political motivation behind the forming of the territory during such a tumultuous time in our country’s history.

Then, in my research, I came across the letters Jonathan Richmond wrote to his family while traveling with the Governor’s party from Cincinnati, Ohio.  I was hooked.  I had to write about all of the amazing things Jonathan and the governor’s party experienced on their travels, from the five hundred Indians at Fort Larned, to Gray’s Ranch, to finding the Indian woman’s severed head, to Devil’s Gate, to Sante Fe, to the snowy inauguration.  Many of the events of the journey were inspired by his firsthand accounts.

Of course, when writing an epic tale about a wagon train journey, one must understand many things: mode of transportation, what kind of supplies were needed, what was the terrain like, what was a woman’s role on the wagon train.  These details were important to painting an accurate picture of life on a wagon train.  I came across a wonderful book about the history of the Santa Fe Trail which provided a great deal of detail to help make the journey come to life.

While I tried to keep facts and the real historical characters as accurate as possible, this is still a work of fiction.  The major area where I took some creative liberty was with the First Cavalry Company of the California Column.  I needed a way to include Lieutenant Harrison from very early in the journey and I wanted him to be trained by the real Captain Benjamin Davis.  Captain Davis trained the First Cavalry Company before heading east to fight in the war.  While the First Cavalry Company traveled all over the western territories, they were not part of the governor’s party and there is no record of them traveling to Fort Larned, though other companies of the California Column traveled as far east as Fort Leavenworth.

The details about Prescott are my best representation of events and details of the earliest days of the town.  While Lancaster’s Boardinghouse is a figment of my imagination, it was inspired by the account of a woman nicknamed the Virgin Mary who ran the first boardinghouse in town.  Much of the first Fourth of July celebration came from accounts of later celebrations.

Most of the political characters mentioned in the book were real and I did my best to understand more about who they were, what they looked like, etc.  Those characters include: Governor Gurley (who died from appendicitis in Cincinnati, never setting foot in Arizona), Governor John N. Goodwin, Secretary of Territory Richard McCormick, General Carleton, Jonathan Richmond, Bob Groom, Captain Walker, John Boggs, Major Willis (the first commander at Fort Whipple), and King Woolsey.  All conversations and interactions with these characters are how I imagined they might act or talk or think and in no way represent any actual documented conversations.

I hope you have enjoyed this journey with Drew, Hannah, and Will as much as I have.

Karen Baney

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