Q&A: Nancy Moser (The Journey of Josephine Cain)
Who would leave everything familiar and comfortable to pursue the unknown across the country? The many pioneers who ventured west after the Civil War are the heroes and heroines of Nancy Moser's new novel The Journey of Josephine Cain (Summerside Press). Nancy answered five questions about what inspired her setting, her favorite authors and her main character, Josephine.
What inspired the setting of the Wild West for your novel?
I grew up in Nebraska and my ancestors were pioneers in Minnesota, so the “pioneer spirit” is ingrained in me. I’ve always been fascinated with the courage it must have taken for people to venture into the unknown and start from nothing. Why not just stay where they lived and carry on in the life they already knew? Why abandon everything to deal with unimaginable hardships, risking death, all for the chance to start over—when your odds of success were miniscule? Those who went west were extraordinary people and I want to let readers be inspired by their strength and gumption.
Plus, I am inspired by the vision of those who imagined the impossible—and the building of a railroad from Omaha to Sacramento was impossible. Foolhardy. Crazy even. Yet these visionaries made it happen and our lives have never been the same. Before the Transcontinental Railroad it took four months to get from Omaha to California.Afterwards? A week.Plus, since it was built right after the Civil War, the railroad provided soldiers with jobs, and provided the nation with something positive to work for—together. Ex-soldiers from both sides, new immigrants, and ex-slaves worked shoulder to shoulder toward a common goal. That’s pretty amazing.
Can you tell us about your main character, Josephine? What makes her special?
Josephine lost her young-womanhood to the war.She was a general’s daughter and lived in Washington D.C. where she expected a life of privilege, parties, and marriage to a man of society. Her life was set—until the war takes all that away. And then, her life is further changed when she witnesses the assassination of President Lincoln. Then her father gets assigned to oversee the Union Pacific crews building a railroad west out of Omaha. And her life is further changed when she visits the Wild West for herself and falls in love with its pulsing excitement, breathtaking sunsets, and endless possibilities. Of course there is also a certain Irish workman who catches her eye.
What elements make for a fantastic Historical novel?
A great historical novel should have accurate research, provide total immersion into another world, and reveal the inspiration of those who came before us, making us want to find our own purpose in this world so we can make a difference. Good historical novels make us want to seek out our own roots while making us more rooted in our lives now, so we can provide inspiration to those who come after us. Historical fiction isn’t stagnant; it’s progressive, moving our minds forward.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Stephanie Grace Whitson, Judith Miller, Deborah Raney, Colleen Coble, Hannah Alexander, Rene Gutteridge . . .
What do you think readers will enjoy the most about this book?
Josephine’s journey. For it’s not just a journey of distance or culture, but a journey of maturity and growth in every aspect of her life. It’s a journey of discovery as she figures out that the life she always thought would be hers, pales in comparison with the vibrant life she now can choose of her own free will. That freedom to choose is exciting and something we all long for.