Book Title: The Swan Bonnet
Author: Katherine L. Holmes
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Writing Magic during The Swan Bonnet
During a writing course some years ago, the instructor, Pierre Delattre, told of a circus performer who came to his door while he was writing Walking on Air, a book about a circus. I remember saying, "Didn't you find that scary?"
I'd had curious coincidences while writing. But in retrospect, it might have been selective thinking. Still, to experience something similar to your fictional character has a magical quality.
When I began The Swan Bonnet, I was unemployed and looking for work. I almost missed a classified in the newspaper except that a friend called me about it. Swiftly, I moved from Minneapolis to Duluth where I would teach freshman composition at the university branch there. The setting was similar to my Alaska setting, spruce and evergreen surrounding, Lake Superior and a harbor in view.
I was familiar with Duluth and I had relatives there. At the University, I got to know one of the Indian professors. I'd known people with mixed Native American heritage from summer vacations up north.
Clothing became a focus in The Swan Bonnet. While in Minneapolis, I wore white to find out its effect. I had a calf-length white gathered skirt that was quite cool on a day in the 90s. Wearing it with a white blouse while shopping in Uptown, I had doors opened for me on a sweaty day. I didn't receive leers but looks more like appreciation.
In Duluth, I was low on money until my first paycheck. I stopped in at the downtown Ragstock. There I found an unusual secondhand dress - an American West style dress made in France. It fit perfectly. The brown and orange dress had many small decorative buttons at the bodice and ruffles like something from my 1920s era book.
Also in downtown Duluth then was a store that offered fur pelts, leather goods, and taxidermy. A taxidermy bobcat was in the display window. I went in to look at more large cat taxidermy displayed among antlers and oddities. In Northern Minnesota history, there were many trading posts dating as far back as the fur industry. Like Alaska.
Later, I found freelance editorial work with Skillings Mining Review, a magazine that went back decades because of Minnesota's Iron Range. This surprising job also had me thinking about regions that attracted speculators because that was still going on in places like Brazil.
In Minneapolis, I had enjoyed watching songbirds and migrating monarchs in the backyard trees. In Duluth, I could see Canada geese in their migration, waterfowl on Lake Superior - a merganser and teal ducks - besides Great Horned owls, and marsh hawks. A magical swan didn't appear though. That was the point of The Swan Bonnet. Swans had all but disappeared in the Midwest. They have been returning in small but increasing numbers.
Swans are endangered in 1920s Alaska. Unbeknown to Dawn, her grandfather has shot an old swan out of mercy. In their coastal Alaskan town, her father buys the swan pelt, preventing her Uncle Alex, a fur trader, from selling it for export. Dawn’s father surprises her part-Aleut mother with a hat she helped to make and also with an idea to catch poachers. Dawn and her mother become involved with the suspicious effects of the swan bonnet besides its haunting effect. But after they encounter women from a ship and find out about a hunting party, they ride to the inlet. There are townspeople roving the shore too but who is the vigilante and who is the poacher?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine L. Holmes’ first published book was The House in Windward Leaves, an MG fantasy which became an E-book Finalist in the 2013 New Generation Indie Book Awards and a Juvenile Fiction Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards. Also, she won Prize Americana for her short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, published by Hollywood Books International. In April 2013, The Wide Awake Loons was released by Silver Knight Publishing. The Swan Bonnet, a historical novel, will be published in July, 2013, by GMTA Publishing. Katherine has worked with used and rare books in the last years. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.
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