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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