Thank you! I chose 1904 for several reasons. First, I wanted to set the story at a time when girls/women were still trapped in the culture of repression in western society. Women were fighting for their right to vote and even for their right to marry whom they wished. They were still constrained by the rules of society, and constrained physically by corsets. Maggie needs to discover herself, just as we all do when we are young – and in that context needs to determine for herself whether the rules of society are just, or whether she needs to find a new path. Second, the Old Faithful Inn was completed in the spring of 1904, so I saw that as the beginning of the Yellowstone we know today. And Yellowstone is almost as much a character in the story as Maggie.
The biggest appeal of the story for me was the setting; Yellowstone came to life in the pages of Faithful, and filled me with the desire to see it for myself. What did researching the park entail?
Much pleasure. I love Yellowstone, and I’m so happy you feel that I brought it to life on the page. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Park, and many years in the environment around the Park, so I feel truly at one in writing about it. Researching was the easy part. I went through the Park with a different eye, looking at it as if I saw it new; I listened to Park historians lecture about events that took place at that time; I did research in the new Historical Research Center just outside the Park. I enjoyed every minute of the research, and it was my greatest desire to make Yellowstone both appealing and enigmatic.
The quotes that lead off each chapter are fantastic, offering both foreshadowing and a glimpse into another life and time. How did you gather them all? Were you looking specifically for them or did you stumble across them during your research? Do you have a favorite?
Great question! I loved gathering the quotes – thank you for mentioning them. I have double that many or more in my stockpile. Every time I came across something I liked, I kept the citation. Then I tried to fit the quote to what was going on in the chapter (and I’m delighted you recognized the foreshadowing!) Some of the quotes even came before I wrote the chapter – that was the case with the Emerson quote, which I already knew. Some I looked for, but found because of my research. Each was chosen because it was written either before or during Maggie’s time – in other words, I wanted to find quotes that she might actually have read. I think my favorite would have to be the one in Chapter 6 from Lady Rose’s Daughter, a book written in 1903. Chapter 41 is a close second. And Chapter 26, third…
Now there’s a book I’d love to write. I think Tom becomes a wildlife biologist, and he and Maggie may end up together. But wait – this isn’t about him, is it? I see Maggie blossom into a career as a photographer, perhaps an important career – one in which she photographs the animals that Tom identifies, maybe helps to save endangered species. And maybe they don’t get married, but have a life of romantic adventure, in which they travel to Africa and she photographs the last of the great animal migrations, and then she brings that newfound photographer’s eye back to the American west and sees the reintroduction of the buffalo, and the closing of the last great migration corridors in the west and the near-extinction of the wolf…maybe she becomes the female Ansel Adams, photographing the American west in its prime. Wow. You really got me thinking there!
And now,my favorite part…
Your favorite “classic”?
(What a tough question – I’m an English major and former English teacher!) Okay – I adore Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is probably my favorite, but Mansfield Park is close behind. Tears and laughter, suspense and romance, and always a happy ending.
Which book do you think everyone should read?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
If you could spend the day with one character from any novel, who would you choose?
I think it would be the Time Traveller, from H.G. Wells The Time Machine. I’m fascinated by time. And this character has invented something so remarkable – what’s inside this guy’s head? I know what my motivations are regarding time travel – but what are his, really?
What was the last song you got stuck in your head?
Every song gets stuck in my head! I love to sing, so I’m constantly stuck on a tune. But as of this writing (perhaps ironically) it’s “Thank You For the Music” by ABBA, as sung by the mellifluous Amanda Seyfried.
If your book was a flavor of ice cream, what flavor would they be?
Cookie dough (thick and chewy), chocolate (need I say more?) with a hint of mint (spice and magic.)
Thank you, Janet, for taking the time to answer my questions!