Friday, February 24, 2017

Change of Theme by Paty Jager

The current WIP has been giving me fits.

I started with the hero and heroine. They have a resemblance in some ways to a young couple I met a few years ago. They were so in love, you could feel the electricity between them. Then when I asked them some questions about their backgrounds, I knew I had to write a book with characters like them.

My heroine was to be a daughter of a preacher. The hero, half American Indian and half French. I wanted an obscure mission in the Pacific Northwest that I could have her father teaching at and have the hero be a part of the tribe they were helping to find God and learn to be civilized.

This is country where I grew up. It resembles the Lemhi area
I thought I found my obscure mission. Fort Limhi on the border of Idaho, almost in Montana. At the time of the story it was considered to be in Oregon Territory. During my first two rounds of research, I didn't dig up much about the fort other than the site was chosen in 1856 by a group of Mormon men sent north to find a place where they were welcomed by the Indians. The area in the Salmon River Valley was one where Shoshone, Nez Perce, and Bannock tribes came to fish for salmon and smelt and to have games and races. One band of the Shoshone the Salmon Eaters lived most of the year in the valley. Chief Tendoy of this band, welcomed the Mormon missionaries.  He gave them permission to put up a mission, and they could use the bounties of the valley for their own consumption.

This is the hero, HenrĂ­ Baudin
This was all good information. But I had trouble finding information specific to the mission that they built in a log stockade. How many people lived there? Men and women? What did they all do? I thought great! I'll have an Indian school, the teacher, the heroine's father would be mean to the Indian boys and the hero's uncle would ask him to come help the children. I was 100 pages into the story when I came across half a book on the life of someone who lived and worked at the Limhi Mission (now called Lemhi) in Salmon River Valley.

That skidded my story to a halt. I read all this information, and discovered the school I had outside the stockade would have been a very small school held inside the stockade in the meeting house. And that very few Shoshone attended the school. AND there were bigger political issues taking place that my hero, who was at Yale studying law could help his people with.

With this new information, the story no longer dealt with ill treatment of the Shoshone children. Instead, it now deals with the Shoshone seeing the missionaries friending their enemies, taking natural resources from the valley to Salt Lake, Brigham Young deciding in February 1857 they should build a community rather than help the Shoshone, the army trying to get the Indians on their side to roust out the Mormons, and the final straw, the mission taking in another tribe that had stolen Shoshone horses.

The mission that started in 1856 was abandoned in March 1858 when the Shoshone stole the fort's livestock and horses and killed some of the Mormons when they took over the fort.

As with all my books what started out as a moral theme turned into a theme of justice. I can't seem to get away from that theme in my books, but that makes them grittier and more fulfilling for me to write.

This research and digging is for the fourth book in the Letters of Fate series. HenrĂ­ will release in April. 
If you haven't read this series yet you can find, Davis, Isaac, and Brody on my website and peruse their stories. 

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 30+ novels, dozen novellas, and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award, EPPIE, Lorie, and RONE Award. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what readers have to say about the Letters of Fate series- “...filled with romance, adventure and twists and turns.” “What a refreshing and well written love story of fate and hope!”


  1. Paty, amazing how we can chase research and mold and enrich our stories. I also love the photo.

  2. Caroline, It is always interesting working research into stories. Thanks!

  3. Yikes! I can't believe I'm this late getting to your post, Paty. I love research, it can send us in a direction we had not originally intended--and that's a very good thing.
    Your original theme was good, but I like the turn it took after you did your research. It certainly made me care a whole bunch more about the hero and the outcome of your story. I definitely like justice as your theme.
    I wish you all the very best.

    1. Hi Sarah! It is amazing how one little scrap of information that is dug up can change the whole course of a story. Thanks for stopping in and commenting!


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