Spoiler alert! Read this after you've read Oaks of Justice.

Oaks of Justice - Author's Note

When I first started working on the Desert Manna Series, I knew I would tell Alex Glassman’s story. What I didn’t know was who would be the best woman for him. In the early stages of my outline, I was originally going to pair him with Sophie Atwood. But the more I thought about what type of woman would appeal to Alex, I knew that was not the right fit.

 

After I finished the first draft of Beauty for Ashes, I went back and re-read the entire Prescott Pioneers Series. When I came to my descriptions of Missy Larson, I thought she was the perfect candidate for a love match for Alex. I dug through old notes and calculated ages and thankfully her age in 1873 would work.

I was also going to make Alex’s story book 2 instead of book 3. The problem was when I decided I wanted Missy (Mel) Larson as the leading lady, I needed that extra year to make her age work out like I wanted, so I moved Grace and Joshua’s story to book 2.

I had very little of Missy’s character sketched out in the Prescott Pioneers Series other than her appearance and a brief scene at the end of A Hope Revealed, she could be molded into a rich character. I decided that Alex probably needed an intelligent and beautiful woman. So, I asked myself, what would happen if he fell in love with opposing counsel? Viola! Oaks of Justice was born.

The history behind women attorneys in Arizona is true. From the earliest days of the territory, the Howell Code, which was the foundation of Arizona laws, stated that legal representation must be a man. A few years after the territory was born, the law was amended to state that legal representation must be a man with some level of knowledge about legal matters. Within the first decade, several women were allowed to argue cases and represent clients, as long as they did so under the supervision of “a man with some level of knowledge about legal matters.”

The story in the Epilogue about Sarah Herring is true. She was the first female attorney in Arizona. She passed her exams on December 9, 1892 and went to work in her father’s Tombstone law firm. She later got married and moved her offices to Tucson.

My favorite part of the book was the opportunity to put a stuffy attorney on the ranch with the Larson family. I love how Alex’s relationship with George filled what he lacked from his own father.

The biggest surprise for me in writing this book, was that I made Alex an artist. I had no intention of doing so. Yet, when I sat down to write the scene when Mel visited him after winning the case, I wondered what would happen if she actually looked at the painting on the wall that everyone else ignored. Then it just happened. Alex became a painter, which was a great way for him to express his emotions yet maintain his meticulous outward appearance.

The scenes about Alex’s art were fond memories for me. I originally spent a year at a fine arts school in Philadelphia right out of high school. I loved painting landscapes and sketching back then. So, it was easy for me to write about the experience since I used to be an artist for a brief moment in time.

I hope you enjoyed Mel and Alex’s story.

Karen Baney