I haven’t published a historical novel since 2002, having turned my attention as most of you know to cozy mysteries. But I am so pleased with and proud of The Gilded Cage that I am searching about for another historical topic. I’ve done books on Libbie Custer, Jessie Benton Frémont, Etta Place, and one loosely based on Lucille Mulhall, first Wild West Show Cowgirl (she was a trick roper). So a woman of the American West seems a logical place for me to look for my next topic, since women of the West was for years my area of special interest. Does it have to be a “celebrity,” a recognizable name? I’m not sure.
I’m inspired by Susan Wittig Albert who did a book on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose, more recently has published Loving Eleanor, about Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, and is already deep into writing yet another historical. I’ll wait for her to reveal the subject, but she has a talent for picking people with drama and tension in their lives.
I’ve toyed with and discarded a few ideas—Henriette Wyeth Hurd, for instance. I am fascinated by the Wyeth-Hurd artistic legacy, but while I suspect there’s more to the story, surface resources don’t indicate any tension or drama in her personal or artistic life. Years ago TCU Press encouraged an art historian to develop a biographical project but we were never able to raise research money, and the historian ran into what was almost a stone wall—which leads to my suspicion there’s more to the story. I met a relative who was pleased about the project, but it never went anywhere.
I’ve thought of a couple of other women but no one strikes me as just the right subject. After all, if I begin a new project of this kind, I’ll be living with the woman for a year. So it has to be the right person. The problem is always in the back of my mind, but meanwhile I’ve gone back to a half-finished mystery—with determination to find out how it all works out.