I’m happy to welcome author Christi Corbett to the blog to talk about writing and her historical Western romance novel Tainted Dreams, the standalone sequel to Along the Way Home. First, the wonderfully evoctaive cover and the blurb:
They survived the Oregon Trail, but claiming a legacy would be their biggest challenge yet…
Kate Davis arrived into Oregon City transformed from a pampered daughter of fortune into a determined woman with a plan – fulfill her father’s dream of starting a horse ranch in Oregon Territory.
She quickly discovers a harsh truth – even thousands of miles from home, on an unsettled land America doesn’t yet own or govern, gender still takes precedence over ability. Refusing to be ruled once again by the stifling laws and societal norms she’d escaped by leaving Virginia, Kate begins creatively claiming what is rightfully hers.
Until a visit to the land office changes everything.
Jake Fitzpatrick guided Kate across the Oregon Trail, and fell in love with her along the way. Now he wants to marry her and build a life together, but a ruthless man from Jake’s past threatens to reveal a dark secret, and destroy everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.
And an excerpt:
At the end of the block a man burst from the saloon and stumbled into the street, stopping mere inches from Jake’s horse, Plug. Instead of backing away, the man lurched forward and reached for Jake’s saddle horn.
“Hey there!” Jake said. Raising his left leg, he ignored the resulting twinge of pain and shoved the stranger aside with his boot heel. “Watch it!”
The man drew back and stared at him, his eyes bloodshot and unfocused. He raised an unsteady finger, slurred an unintelligible response, and then fell face-first into a patch of mud.
“Drunken fool,” Jake muttered, then faced the others. “Let’s keep moving.”
High-pitched squealing foiled his plan.
On the upper deck of the saloon a horde of harlots stood clustered together, giggling and shrieking as they pointed toward him. Clenching his jaw, he focused on the street ahead, all the while hoping Kate didn’t notice one woman in particular who’d separated herself from the others and was now hanging over the railing, calling him by name.
Jake pressed his boot heels into Plug’s side, urging him to a steady trot. Thankfully the others followed and they quickly left the saloon behind.
Minutes later, Kate motioned to the end of the street. “William, we’re running out of road and I still don’t see a hotel.”
William pulled a rumpled paper from his pocket. He studied it briefly and then eyed the surrounding buildings. “My uncle sent me a rough sketch of where it’s located, but there are so many new buildings, it’s useless. Jake, do you know where it’s at?”
Jake shook his head. “There wasn’t a hotel the last time I was here.”
“Perhaps one of those men sitting in front of the apothecary would know?” Margaret suggested.
“We’ll find it ourselves,” Jake replied. He led the group around the corner and onto the next street.
Buildings, so new their fresh pine scent still hung in the air, lined one side of the street while the other side held only two—an enormous livery and a two-story building with the word Hotel prominently displayed on a white sign with black lettering. A matching sign beside a light-rimmed window read Rooms Available by the Day or Week.
They dismounted, secured their horses to the empty hitching posts in front of the hotel, and headed for the door. William reached for the glass knob, then turned to the others with a worried frown.
“I haven’t seen my uncle in over seven years, so I don’t know what to expect. Though from what I’ve observed so far, living out west doesn’t seem to improve manners.” He stepped inside and ushered Margaret and Kate through the doorway. Jake followed them, then stopped cold.
Behind the hotel’s front desk sat Theodore Martin—the one man Jake never wanted to see again as long as he lived.
So, Christi – Tainted Dreams is the sequel to your first book, Along the Way Home. What was the initial kernel of an idea that got you started writing them?
I got the idea for Along the Way Home on a road trip, driving an overloaded Hyundai Excel from Green Bay to Seattle with my fiancé (now husband).
We were driving my 1992 Hyundai Excel (compact car) and the backseat and hatchback were loaded to the windows with all my worldly possessions. As an extra bonus, my husband is 6 feet 4 inches tall. Plus it’s February, and since the middle of winter in the Midwest is brutally cold we’re sporting layers of long underwear, flannel shirts, and puffy coats.
We decided to take our time and stopped off at a number of landmarks, including Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and Wall Drug. By the time we reached the Montana border my hubby was ready to rip out the front seat and drive from the back one, and I was beyond bored. Around mid-Montana I started whining about how long it was taking, how there was nothing to do but sit, and how the scenery never changed. Then mid-complaint it hit me—we were traveling in one hour what would take nearly three days to accomplish in the 1800’s. (Recall we’d just come from Wall Drug in South Dakota so I think “the old times” were fresh on my mind.)
I whipped out my notebook and the ideas just started flowing. Soon I had pages and pages of notes and ideas about a possible book. Here’s the actual first line that started it all: A fantastic idea just occurred to me in light of the journey I have just taken… Occasionally I will pull out that same notebook to see how far I’ve come. (For starters, I learned using the same word twice in one sentence is a big no no.)
The descriptions for the two main characters are completely different from what Jake and Kate are now and there wasn’t one mention of a covered wagon or the Oregon Trail, but the basic idea was there. Make it about a man and a woman who travel west, each for their own reasons, to start a new life.
Could you tell us a little about the time period Tainted Dreams is set in?
The year is 1843, and the setting is Oregon Territory, an unsettled land America didn’t yet own or govern. Survivors of the Oregon Trail are arriving into Oregon City, and most are seeking land and opportunity, and are willing to work hard to succeed.
What is your heroine Kate’s most admirable quality?
She lost nearly everything on the Oregon Trail, yet is still filled with a determination to succeed in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds.
And your hero Jake’s?
He’s a man of honor, and once he makes a promise to another person he does everything he can to keep his word.
It sounds fabulous! And now, a little about you … Where do you do your writing?
In the corner of my bedroom at a cupboard-style desk made of pressboard and covered in wood veneer that’s beginning to peel away from the edges. It’s about two feet deep and three feet wide.
If you could have your dream space to write, where or what would it be?
I’d like a bigger desk, and I’d love to be able to prop my elbows on the desktop without broken veneer pieces poking my forearms. And a room overlooking a scenic view of either the ocean or a forest would be lovely.
I think either of those views sounds perfect! Thanks so muh for visiting, Christi.
Tainted Dreams is available at the links below:
About Christi’s debut novel Along the Way Home:
They lost everything but their dreams on the Oregon Trail…
Kate Davis is intrigued when her father reveals his dream of starting a horse ranch in Oregon Territory. Settlers out west value a strong woman, and though she manages the financials of her father’s mercantile her competence earns her ridicule, not respect, from Virginia’s elite society.
Jake Fitzpatrick, an experienced trail guide, wants land out west to raise cattle and crops. But dreams require money and he’s eating dandelion greens for dinner. So when a wealthy businessman offers double wages to guide his family across the Oregon Trail, Jake accepts with one stipulation–he is in complete control.
Departure day finds Kate clinging to her possessions as Jake demands she abandon all he deems frivolous, including her deceased mother’s heirlooms. Jake stands firm, refusing to let the whims of a headstrong woman jeopardize the wages he so desperately needs–even a beautiful one with fiery green eyes and a temper to match.
Trail life is a battle of wills between them until tragedy strikes, leaving Jake with an honor-bound promise to protect her from harm and Kate with a monumental choice–go back to everything she’s ever known or toward everything she’s ever wanted?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christi Corbett, winner of the 2013 RONE Award for Best American Historical novel, lives in a small town in Oregon with her husband and their twin children. The home’s location holds a special place in her writing life; it stands just six hundred feet from the original Applegate Trail and the view from her back door is a hill travelers looked upon years ago as they explored the Oregon Territory and beyond.
You can find Christi at the links below: