Author Interview: Gwyn Ramsey

Gwyn Ramsey 2My guest today is Gwyn Ramsey, author of the novels Journey to Tracer’s Point and Winds of Change. Gwyn is a member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Tampa Area Romance Writers (TARA), Peace Rivers Writers, and EPIC.

Welcome, Gwyn. You have two novels out in your series. Was Tracer’s Point your first novel? Yes, this was my first novel, a story of my heart.  I have several others written, but Tracer’s Point is one I’ve loved from the very beginning and what a challenge.

Tell us what inspired you to write it.  I’ve been asked this plenty of times and to be honest, I never gave it much thought until the question was posed. I would say that after 45 years of genealogy, the idea of writing a historical was born. The thought of going west in a covered wagon always piqued my interest.

Have you always wanted to write or did you come to it later in life? Actually, my writing didn’t develop until 2000.  I’m a late bloomer and have more stories waiting on the sideline than time will allow me to finish.

Did these books require a lot of research? Yes, lots. Research is a skill that all writers develop whether in small amounts or on a larger scale. Journey to Tracer’s point took three Journey coveryears of research and writing. Together, the book took on a life . . . one of love.

What did you do to find the information you needed? I began with interlibrary loans, the Internet and then progressed to the Library of Congress as a researcher.  Also I traveled to many of the areas mentioned in my book. I called people to interview them regarding their pioneering skills and developed my own personal home library. It was an on-going process even after the book was published.

What kind of preparations did the characters have to do before they left? The process of trip preparations was huge. Material had to be woven and two changes of clothes had to be sewn for each person on the trip. Candles had to be made as well as soap for once at their destination many people lived in their prairie schooner for months until a cabin could be built. Food was gathered from the cold cellar or bought, cooked, and packed. The medicine bag had to be put together and herbs collected. Land had to be sold as well as the entire homestead, stock, etc. Personal possessions had to be sold or given away for only the necessary items were required for the trip. During 1849 in the back country of the Virginia mountains people didn’t own a lot, and what they have they was handed down from generation to generation. So selling or giving away personal items had to be a heart-breaking experience.

What a difficult journey this must have been, from Virginia to California by wagon train, especially for the women and children. What kinds of things did they have to endure on this trip? Planning the trip, gathering the necessary provisions, building a wagon and then heading west on trails without a GPS or Atlas to show them the way was just the beginning. But the real difficulty didn’t arrive until the pioneers left from the jumping off place at Independence, Missouri to reach either destination, Oregon or California. There were turbulent rivers to cross and high river banks to climb, prairie fires from lightning challenged them as well as tornadoes, cholera was ever present and claimed many lives, a shortage of money was always a problem, long walking hours in all kinds of weather wore the people down, not to mention wagon crashes or the loss of their animals. These people were hardy pioneers and constantly pushed themselves to reach their destination, their dream. They walked 3,500 miles through some of the nastiest terrain.

Wow, Gwyn, they were indeed brave and hardy souls.

Join us on Monday for the second half of the interview, in which Gwyn talks about her sequel, Winds of Change. Both novels are available from Treble Heart Books.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sounds like a well researched book! Look forward to hearing more about you and the book.

  2. I was privileged to have the chance to read Gwyn’s first book when it was still a work in progress. I am a reader of many kinds of books, but it was the first time to have a manuscript that I was allowed to “preview. I’ll never forget the feelings that I received from it. “I was on that trip”, with these people. Most books gloss over the work and feelings our ancestors had when they left “home” for the unknown. I was aching with the effort of daily life on the trail. I enjoyed the story a great deal also and was anxious for the sequel and now I am waiting for Gwyn’s next book.

  3. The whole research process sounded fascinating. The details of getting ready, traveling, and the dangers faced sometimes get lost in stories about heading West. Just Gwyn’s listing here makes me cringe and wonder if we 20th century people could have done this. What brave souls!

  4. Great interview, Heidi. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s!

  5. And I thought it was hard getting ready for our vacations to Wisconsin and packing for myself, the DH and the dog! I can’t imagine going on a wagon train – awfully bumpy. Vans are so much smoother.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://www.morganmandel.com

  6. Knowing Gwyn since Kindergarten how proud I am of the amazing story she has written. Living in Wa State we have alot of areas that gold was and is still mined. What a good story of the early people who put their lives on the line to strike it rich in the Western Territories. I am eager to read Gwyn’s second book, “Winds of Change”.


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