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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Writing About The Alaska Gold Rush

By Lynn Lovegreen
I was lucky enough to grow up in Alaska, and like many before me I fell in love with it. The scenery is beautiful, the history is fascinating, and the people have an independent yet friendly attitude. It’s home, but it’s also a great place to write about. I am working on a young adult historical romance series set in the Alaskan gold rush. For me, it’s an ideal setting. The time in history is exciting, and the place is full of drama itself.
Lynn Lovegreen

My first novel is set in 1898 and the last takes place in 1916. During that era, lots of interesting things were happening in this country; Teddy Roosevelt and other reformers were making life better for common folks, the first aviators were flying in the sky, and people were buying automobiles and telephones for the first time. Of course women were coming into their own in many ways, from the Gibson girl riding bicycles to the suffragettes fighting for the right to vote.
In Alaska, women were a little more liberated because of the Last Frontier attitude. Folks were more interested in people’s abilities than their position in society. Women were hunters, pilots, entrepreneurs and more. The first Alaska Legislature gave women the right to vote in 1912, before the 19th amendment passed nationally in 1920. There were some restrictions, but it was easier for women to lead different lives up here. 
There are so many amazing places in Alaska. Within the Gold Rush, there are lots of boomtowns and motherlodes. I chose four to follow the main strikes chronologically. The first novel is set in 1898 in Skagway, the first big boom town during the Klondike strike.  The second book is set in Nome in 1900, where the gold in the beach sand and the claim jumpers’ conspiracy made it distinctive. The third book is set in 1906 Fairbanks, now our second biggest town, with its own colorful characters. My last book in the series is set in Kantishna Mining District in 1916, where tension between conservation and mining developed when Mount McKinley National Park was being created next door to some prospectors. 
Building stories against this backdrop gives me lots of material to work with. I can set my main characters in the middle of an Alaskan gold rush, and these young women have lots of opportunities to challenge themselves and create the life they want to live.  They can find their own path in this great land. Their hearts know the way once they’ve learned how to listen, and Alaska gives them a place to do just that.
What is your favorite time period to write about? What do you enjoy about it?
Lynn Lovegreen is an Alaskan author with Prism Book Group who enjoys sharing her passion for Alaska and its history. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and www.lynnlovegreen.com.

20 comments:

Adrienne Clarke said...

Great post,Lynn. I confess, I don't know a great deal about Alaskan history, but you've certainly made me want to know more. Alaskan history sounds like great source material for your books!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks, Adrienne. It is a dramatic time period! :-)

Tam Linsey said...

"Alaskan girls kick *$$" as the bumper stickers say up here :) But then, I'm rather partial to Alaska!

I think your time period is fascinating. Lots of potential conflict and opportunity for strong heroines, which readers love. Can't wait for your book to release!

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Lynn, Thank you for contributing to romancing the Genres!

I admit to a fascination with the late 1800s and early 1900s myself. I'm planning a YA Steampunk novel set around 1880.

I lived in Alaska for five years when my husband was in the Coast Guard. We loved living there.

Everything you said about what makes Alaska unique rings true. I'm excited to read your books!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks Tam. That's true, lots of strong women in Alaska!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Hi Sarah. I've known some Coasties stationed up here. Your steampunk novel sounds fun. Let us know when it comes out! :-)

Paty Jager said...

Lynn, I think books are richer when the author is so passionate about the time and place they write about. It comes through in this post that your books are must reads! I may also be picking your brain about Skagway as I have a character headed to Alaska to get rich. ;) Great post looking forward to getting my hand on the book.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks, Paty. You bring your Western settings to life with your passion for them. And I'd love to talk with you about Skagway, a fascinating place! :-)

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Lynn,

I remember being green with envy when my grandmother traveled by boat and train to Fairbanks to stay with my aunt and her children (my uncle was in the army and stationed there). It remains the one place in the U.S. I'd love to see for myself. Looking forward to reading your books. Let us know when they are out!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks, Judith. Maybe you'll get to Alaska one day--it's often a highlight of people's travels. I will inform you and Romancing the Genres when I have a release date! :-)

Victoria Pitts-Caine said...

I can't wait for this series with Prism - sounds very exciting.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fabulous series. I can't wait to start reading the first one! May you srrike gold with it.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks Victoria. Prism has lots of great stuff! :-)

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thank you, love the "strike gold" line! :-)

Madelle Morgan said...

I look forward to reading your books, Lynn. I love stories about the northern frontier. I've traveled throughout the far north (except, alas for Alaska), including two visits to Dawson, Yukon - a beautifully restored Gold Rush town, where I stayed at a former brothel turned B&B called Bombay Peggy's.

Have you read "I Married the Klondike" by Laura Berton? It provides a Yukon perspective of the gold rush days.

Becky Lees said...

Beautiful post, Lynn...from your fellow Alaskan! And yep, Tam said it best Alaska Girls Kiss $$$

Diana Mcc. said...

You've chosen a wonderful subject that a lot of us down here no nothing about! Your books sound great! I'll definitely be buying them. Good luck on sales.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks, Madelle. Yes, Dawson is a great town and "I Married the Klondike" is a classic! I was just reading about Dawson during World War II--the town saw as much activity then as during the Gold Rush.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks for stopping by, Becky. :-)

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks for the kind words, Diana. I appreciate the vote of confidence. :-)