What part of your background was involved in creating the setting and characters for A Noble Groom ?
A Noble Groom centers around a German immigrant farming community in central Michigan during the 1880's. I was drawn to write this story for a number of reasons. One reason is that I live in central Michigan and am fascinated by the history behind the area. Since there have been so few books set in Michigan, I'm delighted to pioneer the way into bringing my state's history to life.
Another reason I chose to focus on this German immigrant farming community, is because of my own German roots. My father's family immigrated from Germany and eventually many of them became farmers. My dad grew up on a big farm in central Wisconsin, and even though he later became a Lutheran pastor, he carried his love of farming and gardening over into our family when I was growing up. I spent my summers snapping beans, shucking peas, freezing corn, and canning tomatoes that came from his enormous garden.
How much research did A Noble Groom take?
I worked on researching and plotting A Noble Groom for about a month. And then the actual writing of the first draft took me about five months.
How much of the story is factual information?
Most of the story is made up. But as I mentioned, the story is inspired by a real immigrant community and it also ties in with the Great Fire of 1881.
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing A Noble Groom?
I loved researching the Great Fire of 1881. By September of that year, no penetrating rain had fallen for almost two months. Streams had dried up, the vegetation of the fields and woods had become tinder, and the earth was parched. Even under such dry conditions, some farmers still resorted to the common practice of burning their land to clear it.
When a major weather front moved through the area bringing violent winds, the fires fanned into a raging inferno. Witnesses reported that in some places the fire marched in a great wall of flames, sometimes one hundred feet high. It moved across Michigan’s Thumb area in four hours, burning and destroying lives until finally it reached Lake Huron and burned itself out.
Hundreds of cattle, sheep, and hogs lay dead along the roads. Few trees and buildings were left standing. Nearly 300 people died and thousands were injured and homeless. Some took refuge in wells and survived while others suffocated. Some buried themselves in fields, took refuge in root cellars, or in rivers. Those closest to Lake Huron sought refuge in the cool waters of the lake and found themselves standing next to wild animals.