Books

Kobo Inc.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Guest Post: Katherine Holmes

Today's guest comes to us from the wilds of Alaska and back again. Katherine Holmes makes a stop on her blog tour with some background info on her novel The Swan Bonnet.


We tend to absorb the history of our environment As it was for many, Alaska was romantic to me as a frontier, romantic while living in the city. Of a sudden someone would leave Minneapolis for Alaska. My brother went there to do legal work after he had worked with Indian Legal Aid in Duluth While he was on the south coast, I thought of moving. I read up on the state and became caught up in its history. The near extinction of swans in the United States had me thinking about settings and soon I was planning a story.

Learning about Alaska was like learning grammar through a foreign language. I've never read a history book about Minnesota though I have Midwestern ancestry going back to the mid-1800s. Mining hopes in Alaska were very similar to those on Minnesota's Iron Range in the early 20th century. The influx of people in Northern Minnesota had similarities to Alaska’s new population. Sometimes they were the same people. Like Alaska, the fur trade began Minnesota history. I'd heard much about the 1920s on the Iron Range from my mother. Boomtowns and sudden wealth mapped the region.

After being fascinated with two books of Alaskan history, I researched swans. I read how warehouses with thousands of swan pelts were discovered, more than 10,000 at a time. Eventually hunting laws were enforced and a successful environmental chronicle was documented. I began my Alaska story as a shorter fiction about an Irish immigrant couple who bought shore property where swans migrated. But soon the story led to a coastal town and characters emerged.

When I thought of the swans being killed in masses, I knew that few women were part of such a money-making venture. How much did women help such an environmental campaign in a lone setting when a particular species were illegal to hunt? It is known how women responded to Prohibition then.


I posted the book at Authonomy.com in 2009 while I began to re-work the historical detail. I was afraid the swan hat would seem far-fetched. But it wasn't historically. The West established its own dress. I actually hadn't seen Chaplin's The Gold Rush and later, when I watched the VHS, the women's fur hats were part of the entertainment.

Not until I was rewriting the book did I realize the inspiration for the swan hat. Of course, it was meant to be the white hat of the western. But I remembered from my grade school years the pheasant pelts one of my brothers brought home after hunting. He hung the pheasant pelts on the wall of his room and then in the basement. These pelts fit neatly on the head so that, with my friends, I wore a pheasant hat - until my mother found out and scared us about lice. There is some kind of method to storytelling after all.

About the author: After stints in publishing and as a reporter, Katherine L. Holmes obtained an M. A. in Writing from the University of Minnesota. Her poems and short stories have been published in many journals. In 2012, her short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, was published by Hollywood Books International. She has also published a children’s fantasy, The House in Windward Leaves.

Visit the Katherine on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherine.l.holmes

As usual, you can find me at www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor

The Swan Bonnet is available in eBook and paperback.
Get it on Kindle here:

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. No doubt your site is amazing and I really like it. Nice writing, you are doing great effort, your way of writing is unique. Love this site.
    urdu novels free

    ReplyDelete