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
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
Who are some of your favorite
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.