Author Interview: Erin Bowman on Vengeance Road

Erin Bowman author photoErin Bowman is here today to talk about her latest novel Vengeance Road–a historical Western about lost gold, murder, and one girl’s quest for revenge.

Miss Print (MP): What was the inspiration for Vengeance Road?

Erin Bowman (EB): Vengeance Road is inspired by the legend of the Lost Dutchman, which is a gold mine supposedly hidden in the Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix, Arizona. My husband (who has family in the area) was telling me about the legend one night and my muse exploded. I saw a girl out for revenge; so driven and stubborn in her need for vengeance that she willingly entangles herself in a gang’s quest for gold. (And yes, you guessed it: that gold lies deep within the Superstitions.)

MP: This book is set in 1877 in the Arizona territory. How did you choose this historical era? How did you find historical details and choose which ones to include in your story?

EB: Much of Lost Dutchman lore is tied to Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant who died in 1891 and supposedly provided maps to the mine to his caregiver. After his passing, knowledge of the mine became more public and the number of people entering the Superstitions in search of it increased. I wanted to set Kate’s story prior to this, mainly so that I could have her cross paths with Waltz, and in turn, become another “what if” piece of the Lost Dutchman legend.

I did a lot of research for this book, reading everything from books on cowboy culture and mining, to scouring historical atlases. Online archives available through museums, historical societies, and the US Historical Archives were also extremely helpful. As for what made it into Vengeance Road? Simply put, only the details that needed to be there and felt natural to Kate’s story. In a lot of ways, I think writing historical fiction is like writing fantasy. The writer needs to know All The Details in order to be sure the world makes sense and is fully realized, but if all those details went on the page, the reader would be bored and overwhelmed.

MP: Working off the last question, Vengeance Road features a mix of real and imagined (or no longer existing) locations as Kate tries to track down the men who murdered her father. Did any real locations help you envision Kate’s journey and the places she encounters along the way?

EB: Yes! I actually took a trip to Arizona and did some hiking in the Superstitions. I wanted to make sure I was really capturing the ferocity of the land. I had a notebook with me, and spent a lot of the hike jotting down notes about the flora and fauna, the sounds and smells, the oppressive heat, etc.

MP: Did you have a favorite character to write in Vengeance Road? Is there any character you are particularly excited for readers to meet?

EB: I always feel like I’m cheating when I answer questions like this with my main character, but I’m going to do it again! Kate is my favorite. She is so brave and independent (sometimes to a fault), and her character was so much fun to write. I especially love that while she’s just as tough at the end of the novel, she also emerges with a softer side, too. I’m really excited for readers to meet her.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project? Will we be seeing more historical fiction from you?

EB: I hope so! I’m currently playing around with an idea for a Vengeance Road companion novel. It’s set ten years after VR, but features new main characters and a different storyline. Nothing’s official yet, but fingers crossed! And I have a bunch of other WIPs on my computer as well, ranging from contemporary to sci-fi!

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

EB: Dissect everything you read and watch. What do you love? What do you hate? Apply that to your own writing. And then, of course, the age-old advice: Read a lot and write a lot and don’t give up. Every writer faced his/her share of “no”s before getting published, and it only takes one “yes.”

Thanks again to Erin for taking time from her busy schedule to participate in this interview.

You can see more about Erin and her books on her website.

You can also read my review of Vengeance Road here on the blog.