“What are you working on now?” is a question I frequently hear from readers and writing friends and family members. Although I think for family remembers the question is code for, “Are you still chasing that writer thing? You’re seventy years old. When are you going to grow up?” But that’s a topic for another blog. Maybe.
Usually, I have a ready answer for readers and writing friends. But lately, I haven’t. I finished a fantasy series (and had it rejected twice). I’ve started a couple of other projects that petered out. They began well, but I soon grew bored with them. They didn’t hold my interest.
So, I’ve gone back to my first love, Westerns. I’m working on a new story about a female attorney, Emily Peyton, in the 1880s in Kansas. I have one unpublished novel about Emily called Emily’s Trial. In that story, she has her first trial. And she’s defending someone accused of murder.
In this new story, the plot focuses on Emily rescuing a woman from an abusive marriage. Marriage in the 1880s still held to the idea that the wife belonged to the husband. It was changing a little, but the attitude was still along the lines of outsiders didn’t interfere.
This thinking doesn’t apply to Emily. She jumps into the middle of the situation. She sees the wife as a person regularly beaten and abused, a situation only tolerated in marriage. But Emily wastes no time in reminding the community slaves were treated the same way. People would get upset if a man beat and abused his horse or dog, but looked the other way when it came to his wife.
She gives the woman a place to stay while using what laws she can to protect her. And she weathers the wrath of those in the community who think she should mind her own business. Even her own father counsels her about stepping over the line.
She faces the anger of the husband, who threatens to give her the same treatment he gives his wife.
Through a series of connections and events, Emily reaches out to Rachel Archer. Rachel is the heroine in my Riverbend Sagas series. Rachel and her husband Michael agree to provide a home for the abused woman.
But Emily must still deal with her own community and those close to her.
The topic of abusing women is very much alive in today’s society. Exploring how it was viewed in the 1880s is eye-opening. I’m looking forward to doing the research to give a strong foundation to this story, one that will make the story accurate and believable and relevant to its period in history. And perhaps add perspective to today’s society.
I’ll be sharing my discoveries in future blogs.
In the meantime, I’ll do a series of blogs about other topics this novel explores.
What are you working on now? What excites you about the project?