11 April 2010

Guest Author: P.L. Parker

This week on Unusual Historicals we're featuring The Wild Rose Press author P.L. Parker, whose time travel Oregon Trail romance, AIMEE'S LOCKET, is available now in print. Don't miss it! Here's the blurb:

The antique ivory locket was the key!

Exquisite and enchanting, it drew Aimee like a magnet. Though the locket cost every spare penny she had, it was money well spent--or so she thought! Catapulted by the locket to the year 1847, Aimee finds herself alone in St. Louis, Missouri, the jumping off site for the Oregon Trail. The much touted slogan "Go West Young Man" takes on new meaning. Seattle, her home in the present, was a distant dream, and unless she found a suitable male willing to wed, Aimee would be left behind when the emigrant train left for the Oregon Territory. Penniless and without recourse, Aimee's choices were few.

Jake Marshall, scout for the Markham Party, was the perfect, if unwilling, choice. Undaunted by his initial rudeness, Aimee entices him to the alter with the promise of her diamond earrings as payment, thereby securing her passage on the wagon train, and embarking on a chain of events that would ultimately end in the far reaches of the great American West.

The images of your website drew me right in. And the quote--"Suffer those who chance upon the portal of time as the gate swings open, for they will be lost."--really intrigued me. Is that from a specific story?

Actually no. That is mine. I searched everything I could think of to make sure it was mine, and found nothing. I wanted something that connected my website to time travel, which is the basis for most of my stories.

Tell us about your "unusual historicals."

All my novels--FIONA, RILEY'S JOURNEY, and AIMEE'S LOCKET, and the short story, "The Heart of the Sorcerer"--deal with time travel in one form or another. We all dream of traveling to another time and experiencing live in that strange environment. I love the research end and often get lost in research. I do try to take something "unusual" in history and add it to my stories to give them flavor and believability.

What stimulates your interest? How do you get your ideas?

I have to admit, I'm a great one for switching on the TV and wandering over to the Discovery Channel. Ancient history is my favorite and I am always looking for the weird moments in history that leave some specific mark on present day.

What prompts a storyline?

FIONA, my first novel, grew from watching a segment of the Discovery Channel about the discovery of Caucasian Mummies in the Taklamakan Desert of Northern China. These mummies, possibly Tocharian Celts, existed in that part of the world long before Caucasians were thought to have made their appearance. No one knows where they came from or where they went. Maybe they subsequently interbred with the nearby Uyghur tribes, which could account for the lighter skin and rounder eyes of the peoples in the area. It is a question whose answer is lost in time.

After I set the parameters of my story, I purchased a copy of Elizabeth Wayland Barber's THE MUMMIES OF URUMCHI. She discusses textiles, basketry, weaving and carding, and other aspects of these people's daily life, things I needed to give color to my slant on life 4,000 years B.C. My heroine, Fiona, is based on the discovery of one such mummy, a young blonde woman, possibly a sacrificial victim. Dismemberment was a common form of torture to the ancients. In almost every culture, there is mention of this horrific end result. There wasn't much I could do to alleviate her suffering, but perhaps I could write her a better end.

Any others?

I watched the Discovery Channel again. My next brain stimulator was the discovery of the frozen man discovered in a part of the Alps straddling the border of Austria and Italy. Who was he? What was his life like? Why was he there? I was hooked. The more I researched this tidbit, the farther back I went. Ultimately, I based RILEY'S JOURNEY in the last Ice Age, approximately 40,000 years ago, when Cro-Magnon man and Neanderthal both occupied this planet. So much information! My main research was the internet, but I also purchased Stephen Oppenheimer's THE REAL EVE, MODERN MAN'S JOURNEY OUT OF AFRICA. About the time I finished RILEY'S JOURNEY, a woman's body was discovered in Oregon, much older than when man was previously thought to have migrated to the Americas. Of course, I had to mention her in my story.

What about your latest release, AIMEE'S LOCKET?

The Oregon Trail has long been of interest to me. Living in Idaho, I've grown up with the stories of the pioneers' journey west, their hardships and their triumphs. As 1847 isn't too far back, it was easy to follow the path of the early settlers, ergo, AIMEE'S LOCKET was conceived. Again, I researched the internet, but I've even taken a tour with a historical guide along the Oregon Trail which borders Idaho and Oregon. He led us to a spot where a family of emigrants' journey finally ended. This site is located near Huntington, Oregon. These emigrants were part of a small group of families who were first attacked by Indians near what is now American Falls. Losing everything, the family hid in the reeds and then continued on foot. Two young men rode for help and did survive. The father kept his family together until the Indians struck again just outside Huntington and their suffering ended. The bones were so decalcified due to starvation, it was almost a miracle their grave site was ever found.

Do you feel as if your characters come alive vividly as you write? Do they assert themselves in ways that surprise you?

Oh, most definitely. By the time I've finished a story, I feel like the characters are my friends--people I know. I go back and read parts periodically and get emotional. In fact, when I was finishing "Aimee's Locket," I cried for her at the end. Each of my ladies is very different, but my humor does tend to come out in each one, which I'm thankful for.

What are you currently working on?

I just finished a vampire story, ABSOLUTION and am currently going the rounds of submission. Since I've had so much interest from my fans around the world as to what happened to my people in RILEY'S JOURNEY, I am currently working on a sequel. How fun to revisit my earlier research and pull out a new story. I'm almost finished with the first draft and having a great time.

What's the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?

I find that making sure the character reacts/speaks like his/her character would. That is a challenge because I wouldn't necessarily say what my character says, but fun to imagine. The easiest is coming up with ideas. I have a notebook that I write down ideas and I'm pretty far ahead, but when I finally sit down to write the next, often it is a whole new idea. My sons are good inspiration. They're always coming up with ideas for stories as well.

How do we contact you?

For further information about me, please visit my website, my blog at www.plparker.blogspot.com, my myspace page, or just e-mail me at plparker92@yahoo.com.


Thanks for stopping by today! P.L. will be giving away a signed copy of AIMEE'S LOCKET to one random commenter. I'll draw the winner next Sunday. Void where prohibited. If you need a topic to get you started, here are a few. Does the idea of an Oregon Trail story appeal to you? What about the difficulties of such a journey hold the potential for romance? And what about time travel stories? Best of luck!