Jamie Jo Wright had her first novella published earlier this year in The Cowboy’s Bride Romance Collection (Barbour Books). We visit with her at the ACFW Conference to find out more about her latest novella appearing in Barbour Book’s The California Gold Rush Romance Collection.
Do you write full-length fiction or do you prefer writing novellas?
Oh no, I love to write full-length fiction. Everything I’ve ever written was full length. The proposal idea came through from Barbour to my agent. I submitted a proposal for my first novella that came out in March. That was accepted and then I was on a roll with novellas.
What do you think makes novellas so appealing?
I think novellas are popular, from what my readers have told me, because you can read them fast. In today’s fast paced world, not everybody has time to sit down and read a full-length novel. You have the satisfaction of a good story in condensed version.
Tell us a little bit about the plot to Gold Haven Heiress.
Well, it’s the California gold rush romance collection. The plot with this one is right after the California gold rush started to die out, they left ghost towns behind, people moved on.
Was that a common thing for there to be ghost towns left?
That’s what I found in my research, that even gave me the idea for the story. I started researching the gold rush to do the proposal and I started finding that within a year, they would have a ghost town. Everybody would move in. They’d build shanties. The gold would run out and they would move on. There were ghost towns all along the American River. These huge shanties that were left. Gardens were left. It was mass desertion.
There’s all these memories that are trapped there that nobody can share and so I wanted to capture a little bit of that with Thalia being there and finding refuge in a place where ghosts go to hide I guess.
Tell us more about your main character.
My heroine is Thalia and she’s basically a washed up prostitute who has nowhere to go and all she wants to do is be alone. She’s tired of humanity. She decides to make the ghost town her home. The hero moves in and decides to make it his own little agricultural haven for the washed up misfits of the world. She doesn’t realize he’s there to rescue people.
How does she support herself … presuming she quits prostitution?
She quits prostitution and that is actually a big thrust of the main plot, is that she can’t support herself. She’s terrified that she can only go back to what she knows and so she’s trying to eek off the land and it’s not working.
When Jack moves in to revitalize the town, she’s convinced she’s going to have to go back to what she knew. She feels trapped.
What kind of research did you do? You must have had to research that era quite a bit.
Especially the 1850s. I’ve never really done anything in that because it’s just before the Civil War. I had to research the California gold rush to see how it started. Even how the state of California became a state because it was right during that time. Even the ghost town is set on the American River, so I called out to the National Park to talk to them to see if the American River was actually called the American River at that time. It had just left Mexico so I wasn’t sure if it had been or not, so I wanted to be authentic with that.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any projects?
Like any author, we have tons of books on the table to write. Whether they’ll actually go anywhere, you never know. I do have another novella that is coming out next year with Barbour. So, I’ll have a third novella. That one is the gilded age brides. It’s called “Of Rags and Riches”. That will be coming out in July of 2017.
Will you ever do your own novella collection? Have you thought about that?
I would love to do it. As much as I love full length, these novellas are so fun to write.
The challenge for me is with romance. I love fairy tales, but at the same time I like realism. It’s fun to try and write a romance where maybe not everything ends on this perfection, we’re in love, but it’s sweet. You have hope coming from it. It’s fun to try and do that in 20-30,000 words.