The Mansions and the Mills
Thank you, Delilah, for having me as a guest blogger.
After finishing The Oath, a historical romance about a woman doctor in 1890’sNew York City, I began searching for inspiration for another book about a Victorian career woman. We tend to think of Victorian women as primarily wives and mothers, but often these same women created opportunities for themselves in a variety of occupations. Now I had to decide which one my heroine would pursue.
One day, I was driving to Manchester, CT, to brainstorm with my critique partner when I passed three stately Victorian mansions sitting high atop a hill that crowned a luxurious sweeping lawn, not far from a group of brick mill buildings. My friend told me the mansions and mills had been owned by a large, prominent family named Cheney, and silk fabric made there.
Silk? In Connecticut? That was news to me. Like all native New Englanders, I knew about the region’s once-thriving textile industry, but I’d never known anything about silk manufacturing except that it involved temperamental silkworms and mulberry leaves to feed them. Sensing a novel, I began researching the subject. Soon, many tantalizing dramatic possibilities emerged.
I started playing my favorite game of, “What if..?” What if my spirited heroine Hannah found herself in a marriage of convenience to a man who loved his silk mill and another woman more? What if she tries to win her husband’s love by learning everything she can about running his beloved mill and making it prosper? And what if she’s swept away by a forbidden love for Samuel, her husband’s artist brother? Add the theme of how one woman’s choices define and shape her life, and The Vow was born.
As a writer, I always keep my eyes and mind open to new sources of inspiration. So when I see three mansions on a hill, I don’t drive by without a second thought. Instead, I play, “What if…?” and see where the journey takes m.
Lindsay Chase is the author of The Oath and The Vow, part of Samhain’s Retro Romance line, and Honor, coming in July. Lindsay’s website is www.LindsayChaseBooks.com, and you can join her on Facebook and Twitter (@lindsaychase10).