Once upon a time, I thought my crush on Deadwood, South Dakota was going to be just a summer fling. Boy, was I wrong. I had fallen head-over-heels. Deadwood had gotten under my skin. Its golden history filled my mind with daydreams; its promising future spurred tales that needed to be told.
Nearly Departed in Deadwood is a contemporary mystery full of colorful characters that have been taking root inside of my noggin for almost three decades. The seed was planted when I was a young teenager sitting on the bench outside of the old Prospector Gift Shop on Main Street, waiting for my mom to get off work. Over the years, the seed sprouted as I hiked all over town, strolling around Wild Bill Hickok's and Seth Bullock's gravestones at Mount Moriah Cemetery, sitting on the steps outside the Deadwood Public Library, walking up and down Main Street, perusing the tourist shops.
As times changed, so did Deadwood. The drugstore where I used to buy candy, the clothing store where I bought my favorite Levi's, and the Prospector Gift Shop are all gone now. At first I was sad to see them go, but then I realized that Deadwood had to transform and grow in order to survive. Just like I did.
A couple of years ago, I was driving down Strawberry Hill on my way into Deadwood when an idea hit me. It was a "what if" moment that sparked the fire of a story in my head. This time, the "what if" involved a single mom, living in Deadwood, struggling to make ends meet with two kids--twins--for whom she had to provide. I had one young child and another on the way at the time, so taking care of kids was front and center in my mind (and my body).
As I drove through Deadwood that day, memories ran rampant in my mind, and the story you hold in your hands began to take shape. I could see it clearly. I'd name the heroine Violet, an old-fashioned name. I could hear her voice; see her in her favorite purple cowboy boots. I knew exactly the location of the realty office where Violet would work, the street she'd live on, and how I'd pull Deadwood's past into the story and intermingle it with the present.
Over the following month, I plotted this story. My poor husband was forced to listen to my ideas morning, noon, and night; there was no shutting me up. Then he caught the Deadwood bug, too, and he joined me in brainstorming and planning. Before I even wrote the first line, I knew that one book was not going to be enough to tell this story, but I had to start somewhere. Finally, after months of writing, I reached "The End" of Nearly Departed in Deadwood, the first book in a series, with much hooting and hollering in celebration.
Now, after several rounds of editing and a lot of polishing, I want to share Violet's story with you. If you have half as much fun reading it as I had writing it, you'll close the book when you're finished with a big grin on your face--especially since you know there is more fun to come.
Thank you for joining me in this adventure. Hold on to your hat!
Welcome to Deadwood.