Thursday, May 1, 2014

Childhood Memories Shape Setting with author Tracy Krauss

Hi guys! Today, Tracy Krauss is here to talk about how childhood memories shaped the setting in Wind Over Marshdale.

What childhood memories would you love to see in a book? Did you live in a small town or a big city? Be sure to leave a comment.


Childhood Memories Shape Setting


Of all of my novels, I feel a special connection to WIND OVER MARSHDALE, published by Astraea Press, probably because of the setting. I modeled the town of Marshdale after my own hometown of Mossbank, and those that are familiar with the area will recognize many of the geographical features, even though the names have been changed. For instance, there is a large, shallow, alkaline lake which is considered a prime hunting area for ducks and other water fowl. Old Wives Lake was named after a Cree legend. In the days before the arrival of ‘white men’, there were some warring tribes in the area. In order to save their village, some elderly women stayed behind in the camp near the lake and kept the fires burning. This allowed the rest of the people to escape. When their enemies saw the smoke from the fires, they raided the camp, but found only the ‘old wives’. The rest of the people made it safely away to a new spot where they were no longer threatened by their enemy. I invented a new legend and called the lake ‘Old Man’s Lake’; still there is some similarity. 


I remember well the smell of grain dust in the air in the fall during harvest time, the constant chirp of crickets in the evenings, or the way the wind grazing over the tops of the grain fields made me think of a cat’s silky coat being stroked by a giant invisible hand. I loved watching a thunder storm out my front room window, taking in the power and awesomeness from the safety of the indoors while the whole thing played out across the huge expanse of sky that is such an important part of the prairie landscape. These are the memories of my childhood, and even though I no longer live there, there will always be something special about the place where I grew into an adult. I think the openness of the land and sky has a profound effect on those who are connected to it, and sometimes I long still for that sense of freedom that only comes from wide open spaces. 

I wanted to highlight the rich cultural heritage of the area, especially the indigenous aspects, while also bringing about some modern conflict. In my book, a Cree man is heading up an archaeological dig in the area, but is met with a lot of opposition – much of it racially based. Of course, there is also romance, and some other surprises, too. I love writing about interesting characters and this book is full of them. Many of them are what I consider to be ‘types’ that you find in every small town. I’ve moved a lot in my life and most of the time I’ve lived in small towns. Believe it or not, you really do find these same people everywhere – the town drunk, the town ‘crazy’, the town busybody… I know it almost sounds cliché, but these people really do exist in almost every town I’ve been to! I certainly did not base any one character on a particular person, but took characteristics that I’ve noticed are ‘typical’ and created my own cast of very unique individuals. 


I hope readers will sense the authenticity of the place. In a way, when you read it, it is like stepping into the world I grew up in.  

Wind Over Marshdale by Tracy Krauss

You can find WIND OVER MARSHDALE at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press and wherever ebooks are sold.