How an Old Photograph Sparked a Book
Today, my guest is Erica Vetsch, author of A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas and one of nine authors who contributed to the best-seller A Log Cabin Christmas. Welcome, Erica!
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in my case, a picture turned into eighty thousand
I came across the picture here while perusing an old Time Life Old West book. A cowboy, fresh off the trail, posing with his horse inside a photographer’s studio complete with guns, wooly chaps, knife and a fancy parlor wall backdrop.
This called for further study. Imagine my surprise when I read that nobody loved to have his picture taken more than a wrangler newly arrived in Dodge City, Kansas. The city boasted many photographers looking to cash in on this phenomenon. It seems the cowboys preferred to be photographed in full cowboy regalia and with as many weapons as possible, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were wild, Texas firebrands untamed and untamable.
The idea fired my imagination. What if I had a character who was a photographer in Dodge City? What if I went against tradition, and this character was a woman? What circumstances might transpire for a woman to have her own photographic studio at this time, and what challenges might she face?
In order to write this story, I needed to answer all the questions this photograph posed. I needed to learn about
photographic processes in the 1870’s, and about lawmen in Dodge City. I read about Bat Masterson, trail drives, saloons, and train travel.
Of course the cowboy and his horse in the picture had to make it into the story. The first scene is all about how
Addie Reid winds up taking the above photograph and the dire consequences this has where her floors are concerned.
All the story threads in A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas came about from studying one picture and asking ‘What if?’ From a single portrait more than one hundred years old, an eighty thousand word manuscript was crafted.
Here’s a little bit about A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas:
Hoping to leave the shadows of her shady yesteryears behind, Adeline Reid is focusing on her photography career. But when her ex-boyfriend’s compatriot in crime shows up in Dodge City her entire past is threatened by exposure. Can Addie keep her secrets while helping to catch a killer? Deputy Miles Carr’s investigation into a shopkeeper’s murder leads him to Addie’s door. Will his attraction to this female photographer keep him from catching the true culprit? Or will Addie lead him off course in more ways than one?
Author Bio: Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading,
and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the
family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
What a fun story behind the story, Erica. I use old photographs to spark story ideas, too. Playing the “what if” game with them can be such fun.
I thoroughly enjoyed every one of the 80,000 words in A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas. The opening scene with the cowboy and his horse is a blast.
I loved that scene, too, Keli. Thanks for stopping by. I’m looking forward to your book coming out next year.
🙂 Keli! Do you have some photographs for A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, CA?
That’s how great stories are born… asking What if! Great story about this book, Erica! Thanks for sharing.
After reading the first scene, it’s hard to look at the photo without thinking you’re seeing an Addie Reid photograph. 🙂 Thanks, Rachel!
Hi, Rachel, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for leading the worship at the conference. 🙂
That’s a great picture, Erica. I’ve got to read your book.
It’s fun, Vickie. Thanks for stopping by!
This was a great post! I can’t wait to read the book.
Oops! I didn’t think it posted the first time — so I posted it twice. Sorry!
LOL! Been there, Susan! Thanks for visiting and commenting.
🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Susie, and I hope you get a chance to read the book soon!
I enjoyed reading this post. Sounds like a great story — can’t wait to read it!
I love the idea of getting your entire book from one picture!
Thanks, Edwina. Those Time Life books have been such a goldmine for story ideas! So many great pictures to ask those “what if” questions about.
This book looks so good. I love old photos. I find them very inspiring! 🙂
I love them, too. I’m always flipping through the ones I find in antique stores and picturing the people as future characters. Thanks for stopping by, Salena!