Rose here: I don’t know about you, but I have been learning so much this month just by reading my fellow author’s stories in The Erie Canal Brides Collection and the great research they did on the settings of their novellas. Below you will find a guest post by Johnnie Alexander. Which reminds me, have you signed up for our great giveaway for five books yet? If you already have a copy, you could gift this one to a friend. http://bit.ly/NUG-1903
Historic Cities Along the Ohio-Erie Canal
By Johnnie Alexander
Sometimes it’s hard to trace a story back to its origins. Why the heroine and the hero became the characters they turned out to be. Why the story opens when it does. Why a specific theme became part of the narrative.
That’s true of my story, “Journey of the Heart,” in The Erie Canal Brides Collection.
It’s hard to trace all the creative origins, but I can tell you why I chose the story’s setting—two specific cities, Circleville and Chillicothe, along the Ohio-Erie Canal.
I grew up in Ohio, about thirty miles or so from Circleville. One of my mom’s sisters lived there, and her husband worked at the local school. Every December, our large extended family held a Christmas potluck and gift exchange at the school.
To me, it was an ordinary small town where my older cousins lived. I had no idea, until I needed a setting for my story, of Circleville’s unique history.
The town was originally laid out in a circular arrangement on a Hopi burial mound in 1810. A few decades later, the townspeople tired of their circular streets. The Ohio General Assembly established the Circleville Squaring Company in 1837 to convert the layout to a squared grid.
I found this so fascinating I decided that the hero of my story, Tavish Dunbar, would be an architect hired to “square” the town’s curved buildings, including the post office where my heroine, Charity Sinclair, and her father lived and worked. And operated a station on the Underground Railroad.
Now to Chillicothe. When I was growing up, my dad’s parents lived south of Chillicothe, notable as both the first and third capital of Ohio. During the pre-Civil War days, white abolitionists and free blacks worked together to help runaways. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 hindered but could not stop this important work.
When Charity is caught transporting a runaway on the Canal, Tavish comes to her rescue. But it’s Charity’s ingenuity that rescues the runaway from her captors and reunites her with her escaped family.
I can’t trace all the elements of my story back to their origins.
But I can say that the historical settings—both Circleville and Chillicothe—played a huge part in the story’s development. And allowed me—a child of the Buckeye State—to honor two historic Ohio towns.
Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget. Her award-winning debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, is a CBA bestseller. She writes contemporaries, historicals, and cozy mysteries, serves on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, co-hosts an online show called Writers Chat, and interviews inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. She also teaches at writers conferences and for Serious Writer Academy. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at https://www.johnnie-alexander.com and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.
Rose again: This is the second Barbour collection I have had the pleasure of doing with Johnnie Alexander, and she is so much fun to work with! Also, her book Where Treasure Hides is one of my fave WWII novels. And I hope you will check out a video Johnnie and I did for our readers tomorrow on her blog. http://bit.ly/NU-RAM01 Also don’t forget to enter the 5 book giveaway here: http://bit.ly/NUG-1903