Alethea Williams, my friend and fellow member of Women Writing The West, has a brand-new western historical novel out called Walls for the Wind. Published by Whiskey Creek Press, the book was just released this month. She joins us here today with an interview of one of her characters, Connie.
Welcome, Alethea! Thanks for joining us this morning.
Alethea Williams: Hello, I’m happy to be here today. Even though I wrote Walls for the Wind, I still have a few questions for some of the characters. Let’s start with Connie. Connie, you grew up in an orphan asylum. What did you expect when you came west with Kit on a train to distribute city children to farmers as the rails of the transcontinental railroad were laid west?
Connie Kennedy: Well, to be honest with you, I thought it was going to be easy to make a lot of money doing almost nothing. After the war finally ended and the president was so tragically assassinated, people wanted to hear good news. And so that is what the newspapers were reporting at the time. There were breathless accounts of the westward expansion and all the opportunities in new settlements springing up along the rails, as well as numerous reports of huge, glittering gold and silver strikes in the West. It all sounded quite romantic.
Alethea: And how did you find things on your journey west? Did conditions meet with your expectations?
Connie: I discovered that it isn’t so easy to make a living as it had been made to appear. Most people out here work very hard for their money: the teamsters who haul the supplies to the end of the line, the railroad workers who build the bed and lay the rails, the hunters who keep the crews supplied with game, the lumbermen who fell the trees and shape them into ties and trestle timbers. I suppose even those who labor to relieve the railroad workers of their pay through liquor and gambling and other diversions could be said to work hard some of the time. It is difficult for virtuous women to find adequate means of sustenance.
Alethea: And so you were disappointed in what you found at the end of your travels?
Connie: If I did not want what I do want, I would like Cheyenne better. Cheyenne is a bustling place, everything being made new from the ground up, and everybody is very busy when they’re not taking cover from flying bullets. But a frontier town in Dakota Territory isn’t what I wanted. I want fine fabrics and beautiful women patrons to drape them on. I want to design and make gowns that fashionable ladies will gladly pay fortunes to wear. So I would be happier somewhere more established, with a population of wealthy men with socially adroit wives. Denver, perhaps, or San Francisco. But have a look around you…I’m sure you think me a dreamer, a parvenue as the newspapermen traveling west with us have named me.
Alethea: There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams and striving to see them to fruition.
Connie: (Sniffs.) Well, maybe you could take a moment and explain that to Kit.
Alethea: You and Kit disagree on what your plans should be?
Connie: Look, I know what you are about with these questions. You won’t get me to say a bad word about Kit in an interview for publication. There are those birds that fly a certain distance and then are content to halt and nest. And then there are those birds of more exotic plumage, who can’t wait to fly away and see what’s over the next mountain. Neither bird is wrong, necessarily, they’re just different. Kit will probably remain here in Cheyenne to the end of her days. But I certainly didn’t leave the children’s home in New York City to come west and do laundry and change nappies.
Alethea: Connie, I hope everything works out for you. Thank you for talking with us today.
Connie: My pleasure. Anything to be able to sit down in the middle of the day and get my poor reddened hands out of the washtub.
Thank you, again, Alethea for sharing about your new book with us!
You can find Walls for the Wind for purchase at:
Author Bio: Western history has been the great interest of my adult life. I’ve lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon. Although an amateur historian, I am happiest researching different times and places in the historical West. And while staying true to history, I try not to let the facts overwhelm my stories. Story always comes first in my novels, and plot arises from the relationships between my characters. I’m always open to your response to my writing.
Find Alethea online:
Twitter: @ActuallyAlethea https://twitter.com/actuallyalethea
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Alethea-Williams/e/B0077CD2HW/
The Romance Reviews author page: http://www.theromancereviews.com/ActuallyAlethea