Beautiful, elusive, and refined, Etta Place captivated the nation at the turn of the last century as she dodged the law with the Wild Bunch, led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Her true identity and fate have remained a mystery that has tantalized historians for decades. Now, for the first time, Gerald Kolpan envisions this remarkable woman’s life in a stunning debut novel.
Kolpan imagines that Etta Place was born Lorinda Jameson, the daughter of a prominent financier, who becomes known as the loveliest of the city’s debutantes when she makes her entrance into Philadelphia society. Though her position in life is already assured, her true calling is on horseback. She can ride as well as any man and handle a rifle even better. But when a tragedy leads to a dramatic reversal of fortune, Lorinda is left orphaned, penniless, homeless, and pursued by the ruthless Black Hand mafia.
Rechristened “Etta Place” to ensure her safety, the young woman travels to the farthest reaches of civilization, working as a “Harvey Girl” waitress in Grand Junction, Colorado. There, fate intervenes once more and she again finds herself on the run from the ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency. But this time she has company. She soon finds herself at the legendary hideout at Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming, where she meets the charismatic Butch Cassidy and the handsome, troubled Harry Longbaugh, a.k.a. the Sundance Kid. Through a series of holdups and heists, Etta and Harry begin an epic and ultimately tragic romance, which will be the greatest of Etta’s life. Then, when Etta meets the young and idealistic Eleanor Roosevelt, her life is changed forever.
Blending a compelling love story, high adventure, and thrilling historical drama, Etta is an electrifying novel. With a sweeping 1900s setting, colorful storytelling, and larger-than-life characters, Etta is a debut that is both captivating and unforgettable.Amazon Exclusive: Gerald Kolpan on Etta
Until I actually wrote a novel of my own, I thought all those authors were lying.
I would read interviews with them in newspapers and magazines. I would hear them on NPR and see them on television; and they always seemed to say the same thing:
"I really had to follow the characters where they wanted to go. At some point, they developed minds of their own."
These seasoned scribes sat down at their PCs and Macs, and after having composed outlines, drawn diagrams, attended workshops and generally obsessed about a plot, sometimes for years, they were now prepared to stand by and watch the creatures they'd created stand up, stretch, and light off for literary parts unknown.
Sounded like a lot of pretentious nonsense to me.
Well, I'm here to tell you that those writers were as truthful as Lincoln.
All anyone has to do is take a look at the initial outline of my novel, Etta, and then read the finished work to realize that once those heroes and villains start moving around on a page, they're apt to end up anywhere.
A few examples:
Did I foresee any of this? Hell, no.
So not only do people in books have minds of their own, it's a good idea for their creators to hotfoot it after them when they stray into uncharted territory; you never know what wonders they'll find.
Besides, it gives you a great comeback when readers and critics question why your main character did one thing instead of another.
"Hey... it was her idea, not mine." --Gerald Kolpan
(Photo © Jonathan Rubin)
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.