Ideas for a novel come in bits and pieces. Several incidences (or coincidences?) came together at almost the same time for me. This novel was mostly inspired by an antique printing press that sits in the window of the Georgetown, Texas newspaper, the Georgetown Sun (now called the Williamson County Sun). One weekend as my husband and I strolled along the streets of downtown Georgetown, a small Texas town near our home, I stopped and gazed in the window of the Sun, where I saw a fascinating circa 1800's printing press.
The week before, I had seen a book about women in the Old West. One
particular drawing showed a group of young women running a printing
press. As I explored further, I found that it was common in those days
for women to take jobs working for newspapers -- usually as "typing
machine operators". I had also recently found and bought a used copy
of Barbara Cloud's book, The Business of Newspapers on the Western
Frontier. I read about the problems that some of the early publishers
had, and how they weren't always treasured members of some of the small
towns they worked in.
And there I had the "bones" of my story -- a young woman coming into
town for a job at the newspaper, an antique printing press, some
conflict, and an ornery newspaper man. And oh yes, my love for horses.
Once I had those facts, the characters took on a life of their own -- as
they often do.
Most of the characters in the book are fictitious, although there really
was a notorious madame living in Austin at the time by the name of
Blanche Dumont. The Gold Institute was a real location, as is the
Driskill Hotel and of course, the capital building that sits proudly at
the end of Congress Avenue. Other buildings and areas in Austin, as well
as historical monuments mentioned in the story, are also real.