I never met my aunt Marion because she died when she was only nineteen. However I’ve been told she used to make up wonderful stories to tell her younger siblings at bedtime. In addition to looking like her, I truly believe I’ve inherited her story-making genes. After years spent learning to be a better writer, I realize perseverance is a necessary trait for authors wishing to become published. I am honoured to have been asked by Authors’ Lounge to write an article about my novel, Passage of Time, the initial book in an ongoing saga featuring time traveler Kate Hunter.
Time travel. The mere idea that a person could visit the past fascinates me, as it does many readers as evidence by the popularity of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
It’s impossible for me to slot Passage of Time into a single genre and so I tend to describe it as a time-travel, roots-unearthing, historical romance with a dollop of mystery and a tad of paranormal activity thrown into the mix. The story has found appeal with both younger and older women who enjoy reading sagas about strong, feisty female leads.
The story begins in 2005, when top FBI crisis negotiator Kate Hunter’s adoptive father, Jake, dies and bequeaths her a pandora’s box of items that suggests he may have murdered someone. With modern technology available to her in her FBI job, proving her beloved father innocent of any wrong doing should be easy-peasy. But doing so becomes virtually impossible after she is somehow transported back to the year 1857 and becomes the captive of Cheyenne soldier chief Nathan Walker.
The idea of writing a novel featuring the Cheyenne tribe came about after I read George Bird Grinnell’s two-volume series about the history and ways of life of the Cheyenne Indians. It was so long ago, I can’t recall what prompted me to look at that particular book. I only know it contained many interesting cultural tidbits that could be used as turning points in a romance story. And so the die was cast.
In determining which year I would have Kate land in, I looked to history. By the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, the Cheyenne and Arapaho were given the land east of the Rockies to western Kansas and between the North Platte and Arkansas rivers. In 1854, the eastern boundary of their territory was crumbling under the weight of settlers in the Kansas Territory. A main northern emigrant route was the Platte River road. After an 1856 conflict at the Upper Platte bridge, Cheyenne war parties attacked wagon trains on the Platte River road. This lead Colonel Edwin Vos Sumner to invade Cheyenne and Arapaho land, resulting in the July 1857 Battle of Solomon’s Fork. Since it was the first time the Cheyenne had fought against white soldiers, it seemed appropriate for Kate — along with her dog, Ali, and the urn containing her father’s ashes — to land during the summer equinox of 1857, a month prior to the battle.
During a writer’s course, I learned the importance of creating in-depth characterizations for main “characters” — I have difficulty thinking of Kate and Nathan as characters, as they have become real people to me. For instance, I know Kate is a top FBI crisis negotiator but fears being in dark places and has suffered from anxiety attacks since childhood. While she has no trouble baiting a fishing hook, she can’t handle seeing a mass of worms. And although she claims she never wanted to learn the identity of her birth parents because Jake was the only family she needed, I know she has a hidden curiosity to discover her roots. Likewise I know Nathan fidgets with a yo-yo before battles like his military hero, Napoleon, used to do. And I know he likes sunflowers because the petals follow the Fibonacci sequence. While not all such tidbits will find their way into the saga, they help me view Kate and Nathan as real people, whose unique personalities greatly guide the story line.
While in the planning stages, I had to decide which type of romance book I wanted to write. Over a couple of decades, I had submitted several manuscripts to one of the mainstream formula-driven paperback romance publishers, receiving some good feedback. But with Passage of Time, I decided against going that route. I wanted readers to become immersed in the cultural aspect of the story as much as in the romance. And I wanted them to anticipate that initial sex scene, and make it hot, spicy and humorous so as not to disappoint.
I have long been an avid reader, a trait I inherited from my mother, who forever had a book in her hand. Creating stories is another longstanding passion of mine, my first attempt at writing a children’s book undertaken in Grade 8. There were gaps when life got in the way of my writing but I always found my way back. Wanting to hone my craft with the ongoing hope of becoming a published author, I enrolled in a journalism-print program following the death of my husband. My top marks netted me a job on the lifestyles desk of a daily newspaper, where I eventually became the lifestyles editor.
With time now to focus on my writing, I’m going full-steam ahead, currently writing the sequel to Passage of Time. This second book, not yet named, is set in early Denver at the time of the Pike’s Peak gold rush and the ongoing Indian-white conflicts. Three weeks spent researching in Denver’s library has given me lots to draw on for the sequel as well as for future books in the series.
To learn more about me or about Passage of Time, visit my website at www.helentdoan.com
I can also be found on Twitter by searching @HelenTDoan.
You can find my book through my website or at Amazon: