25 March 2012

Guest Blog: Tara Chevrestt

This week, we're welcoming historical fiction author Tara Chevrestt. Her novel  RIDE FOR RIGHTS chronicles the journey of two sisters during the women's suffrage movement and has its basis in historical events.  Tara is here to talk about the novel and give away a copy. Leave your comment for a chance to win. Here's the blurb:

In the summer of 1916, women do not have the right to vote, let alone be motorcycle dispatch riders. Two sisters, Angeline and Adelaide Hanson are determined to prove to the world that not only are women capable of riding motorbikes, but they can ride motorbikes across the United States. Alone.

From a dance hall in Chicago to a jail cell in Dodge City, love and trouble both follow Angeline and Adelaide on the dirt roads across the United States. The sisters shout their triumph from Pike’s Peak only to end up lost in the Salt Lake desert. 

Will they make it to their goal of Los Angeles or will too many mishaps prevent them from reaching their destination and thus, hinder their desire to prove that women can do it?

 **Q&A with Tara Chevrestt**

Where did you first come across Augusta and Adeline Van Buren, the real-life sisters that inspired Ride for Rights?
The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. They have a little area dedicated to women in the history of motorcycling. At the time I went there, a mere posterboard of pictures and a timeline type thing was up about them. As my husband and I left the museum, I was blabbering away about how I wanted to see if I could find a novel about the women. There wasn't one so I wrote one.

How similar is the novel to what happened to the real sisters?
I took some liberties as I couldn't find detailed information about the real ride. I do know that the real sisters were arrested for wearing pants, giving birth to that Dodge City bit. They got lost in the Salt Lake City Desert. They summited Pike's Peak, but it probably didn't coincide with the Hill Climb.

The dancing, the earthquake, the Nevada desert, the romance with a reporter, their abduction. That's all figments of my imagination.

You have actually visited Glen Eyrie, the castle in Colorado Springs. Tell us about it. 
It's a 67-room English Tudor style castle built by General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. His wife was from England and so he built this for her, to mimic an English castle. It contains 24 fireplaces, all them brought over from England. My best friend and I went there for a tour and tea. It's really very lovely. I got to see the real Elsie's room. (Elsie is a brief character in my book, a lady equestrian with spunk.)

How did you decide where the sisters were going to travel to next? 
I had a map of the Unites States out...and as I couldn't find exact details of the trip, I just literally traced a line from New York to Lose Angeles and let my finger randomly choose places of interest that were along the way. I then researched that place to see if there was anything particular significant about that town during that time. If not, I made something up OR moved to a different town.

What message do you wish to convey with Ride for Rights?
Women can be and do anything they set their minds to. If two women could ride motorbikes across the Unites States in a time when they weren't even allowed to wear pants, why should we deny ourselves anything now? Take advantage of the fact you have rights. If you don't want to be a housewife, don't be one. If you want to fly planes, go fly planes. Dream it and do it. Don't let society or anyone else tell you that you can't.

Thank you, Tara, and best of luck with Ride for Rights!