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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Paulson

How a visceral dream became a novel: Blood and Dust

Struggling mightily while writing Griffin’s Cure, the fourth novel in my mystery series, a nightmare intervened.

Not mine. My husband’s.

He described a horrific scene in which, not being a doctor, he had to save someone’s life using only his goldsmithing skills. A challenge, to be sure.

He asked me to write it down, to help him make sense of it (and, I suspect, to undam my writer’s block) but I found it impossible to place the dream in the present. Before I knew it, I had a chapter situated in the early days of the Northwest Territory of Canada, some 25 years before my home of Saskatchewan became a province.

Husband became James Sinclair, named for two of his ancestors. Sinclair became a Toronto-born machinist turned goldsmith, accused of a crime he did not commit. Before I knew it, young James was riding for his life across half the country on a horse named Buck, heading for a town not yet served by the railroad to evade those chasing him.

Along the way, he meets all kinds of people. Very bad men sent west by James’s accuser, a powerful industrialist. Métis traders following a towering and intuitive leader. A beautiful young woman who lures him into a passionate encounter.

Once he reaches Moose Jaw, his life changes. He becomes part of the community and decides that should the pursuing gang find him there, he will make a stand. He has had enough of running.

And so, a nightmare inspired Blood and Dust, a novel of historical fiction, perhaps also described as a western and in part a romance.

I am quite sure the hours of research outnumbered the hours of writing. I read much of Bill Waiser’s book Saskatchewan: A New History and spent hours online trying to understand how the railroad was built, when it arrived in Moose Jaw, how big the town was at the time, and so many other details.

And so, after two years of writing, researching, finding a publisher — Black Rose Writing, editing and marketing, the novel has landed. It almost seems surreal.

I did, by the way, manage to finish Griffin’s Cure. Blood and Dust Published by Black Rose Writing, Feb. 17 2022 And available on Amazon

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