If I didn’t live here, I’d want to live there. If I didn’t live now, I’d want to live then. If I didn’t do this, I’d want to do that. Curiosity about history and wanting to know what happened in the past…you become a time-traveler. As a writer, add travel to historic locations only fuels the fire. Every place I visit I want to know what it would be like to live in that era and there’s where the time-traveling takes place. It’s such fun!
My first “real” trip took me to the legendary St. Winifred’s Well in Holywell, Wales. Later trips found me dazzled by the Book of Kells and the famous library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, swooning over the magnificent architecture of John Ryland’s Library in the industrial manufacturing city of Manchester, England and later to my grandparents’ birthplace in Blackburn, Lancashire—one of the most important cotton producers in the world and just one of the hundreds of cities, small towns and villages where the majority of the work force kept the cotton mills operating in the 1800’s. For “fun” I traveled with a good friend on a tour of Regency-era London, Bath and Brighton and other locations in-between where the passage of time has been overlooked and history preserved. My last “real” trip took me to never-to-be-forgotten sights of Paris and the silk weaving center of Lyon, France.
Closer to home, I love going to Sacramento. Yes, I have family living there but you will find that our state’s capitol is such an interesting place. Before each visit my son’s usual question to me is “What do you want to do while you’re here?” and unless I have something special in mind, my usual answer is “Let’s do something you haven’t done yet.”
His response to a recent challenge resulted in a trip downtown to the Old Sacramento Historic Park and the “underground tour.” Another weekend living the past during “Gold Rush Days” was all it took for me to get the idea for my current novel “Swept Away.”
Today, California is experiencing a serious drought. Not so in the mid-1800’s. In the winter of 1861-62, heavy snowfall and 45 days of rain inundated the city of Sacramento breaking through the levees with momentous flooding. A fantastical idea came out of this catastrophe—in 1864 the citizens banded together to raise the streets 21 feet higher than the river’s edge, or 9 feet higher than the street level. Close your eyes. Can you imagine watching the state’s capitol building balancing on hundreds of screw jacks being raised less than an inch a day?
I can. Take me there…please.