Spoiler alert! Read this after you've read The Reluctant Cattleman.
The Reluctant Cattleman - Author's Note
While working on Joy for Mourning in the Desert Manna Series, I wrote a scene where Joshua Harrison sees Hannah Colter for the first time after eight years. Hannah had not chosen him but chose Will Colter instead. To drive home the contrast between what Hannah had and what Joshua wanted, I gave the Colters five sons. Those few sentences led to the vision for the Colter Sons Series.
I grew excited about writing several coming-of-age stories about the children of beloved characters from the Prescott Pioneers Series. My plan for years has been to follow the lives of the Colter clan, so this was finally the right opportunity at the right time.
I knew from the beginning that I would not tell the sons’ stories in birth order. I sat down one day and wrote Chapter 1 for all five stories in one afternoon. I chose the first-person style because I wanted to bring a richer flavor to the characters and deeper point of view. It was also to provide me a challenge to grow my writing skills even more.
Prior to writing the series, I went back and reread the Prescott Pioneers Series. I had forgotten about the kidnapping in Book 4. It provided the catalyst to start the Colter Sons Series with Sam. I asked the question what would happen to a young man who had been kidnapped as baby? How would it affect his personality, world view, and view of his place in his family? What if he learned about the kidnapping in a way that felt shocking to him? As I considered all those questions, I decided a female journalist would be the perfect disruption to his quiet life.
Once I decided on a journalist, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how long ago typewriters were used. There were some unusual styles in the 1870s to the early 1900s before the styles settled into something that resembles the typewriters that were eventually replaced by computer keyboards. The first two major styles were the understrike, like Ellie Mae’s typewriter, and the ball style. The ball style literally looked like a ball with keys protruding from the top. In both cases, the typist could not see what they typed. I can’t imagine how frustrating that had to be, especially after being spoiled with our modern spellcheck and autocorrect. Most early typewriters did not even have shift keys or punctuation. Crazy! I chose the Remington Type 2 because it felt the most familiar to a modern audience with a few differences that I could easily describe.
In The Reluctant Cattleman, I introduced the real-life drama of the railroad wars in Prescott. Thomas Bullock was the first to incorporate a railroad. It was called the Central Arizona Railway. He received a lot of money from bonds if he completed the railroad by December 31, 1886. That was a massive challenge since construction started in May 1886. To complete the deadline, he chose to run the rails through several washes. In Arizona, when monsoon storms arrive, flash flooding is commonplace, even today. So, his decision run the rails through washes would have been controversial. He also chose some shoddy construction materials. His only advantage was a lack of competition. His poor choices eventually led to several accidents with loss of life and many legal battles.
A rival railroad tried to get off the ground. It was called the Arizona Central Railway and it was started by Nathan Oakes Murphy. His brother, Frank Murphy, was heavily involved.
The big player in the railroad industry was the Atlantic & Pacific (A&P). They completed the line across the 35th parallel in northern Arizona in 1882, roughly 70 miles north of Prescott. The A&P repeatedly tried to negotiate a merger between the Central Arizona Railway and the Arizona Central Railway. Eventually, a merger happened, and the railway changed their name to the Prescott & Arizona Central Railway. Bullock and the Murphy brothers did not get along, and Bullock eventually forced Nathan Oakes Murphy out. The railroad wars were far from over. I tell more of this story in the next two books in the Colter Sons Series.
The history behind the railroads from the A&P all the way down to Phoenix was full of drama. I was very fortunate to find a detailed, well-researched book by John W. Sayre that told the story in detail. I also found several books about the history of the A&P which eventually became the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad. One of my favorite sources end up being a book written in the 1880s that described how railroads were constructed, managed, and maintained. It allowed me to give Boone and James Colter realistic involvement in the creation of a railroad in the Cotler Sons Book 2 and Book 3.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Sam and Ellie Mae’s story. Continue the story with Boone Colter, in The Roaming Adventurer.