Posted by: MaraPurl | August 30, 2011

Blog Tour Visit #21: Unsinkable Western History

I like to think of myself as unsinkable. That’s probably a good thing, given my affinity for water. An ocean-lover at age three along the Connecticut coast, I became a competitive swimmer at my school in Tokyo (where I grew up), and always knew I’d live along the California coast someday. It sure came in handy to think of myself as “unsinkable” when I crewed on a Greenpeace voyage to save whales. And I’d say it’s been an even more useful quality during the heaving storms of a career in the entertainment business.

We can’t think of the word “unsinkable” without thinking of Margaret “Molly” Brown. Not only did she survive the Titanic disaster; she left a legacy of philanthropy, generosity, and integrity. You might say she was known for both her head and her heart. So when I heard about a Young Adult book titled Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story, I was drawn to it. (I’m always on the lookout to find great books for my God-daughter Sami and my nephew Lucius). Turns out the book is part of the “Now You Know” series from Filter Press, a wonderful small press in Colorado, and was authored by a colleague from Women Writing the West, Joyce Lohse.

Joyce is another “head and heart” woman who seems to accomplish such a volume of work so effortlessly, she truly must be unsinkable herself. The author of seven award-winning books, a Western history buff, she also partners with her husband in their consulting firm Lohse Works, and manages to serve on multiple boards. In addition, she founded her blog Unsinkable Western History in 2009 as an outlet for journalistic writing skills and as a showplace for writing and photography. She’s quick to mention her involvement with and commitment to Women Writing the West, and how other members’ work inspires her own. (We all cherish the synergy and mutual support from this marvelous organization.)

When I asked about the title and the theme of her blog, she replied, “I call my blog Unsinkable Western History as a nod to one of my favorite biographical characters, Margaret ‘Molly’ Brown, and those of her ilk, who bravely persevered into unknown territory and lifestyle as pioneers in the American West. It is also a celebration of western culture. I share tales and methods of enjoying the Old and New West, and especially its history. I’ve had so much fun and so many thrilling experiences and discoveries while researching western history. I want to share and help others enjoy these experiences, through travel, reading, and enjoyment of our special culture and lifestyle in the Rocky Mountain West.”

What always strikes me about Joyce are two qualities—she always wants to learn something knew, and she always want to be generous to others. So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when she posted not one, but three segments for my blog tour, with an introduction post to boot, about my upcoming novel What the Heart Knows. Her posts include answers to her interesting questions in Segment #1; Segment #2; and Segment #3.

When we first discussed the possibility of my guesting on her blog, the connection between her work and mine didn’t seem obvious, as I don’t write Western history. Or . . . do I? I do write a story set in the West. (The question always arises, is California the West? Well, it sure-as-shootin’ is geographically, even though I don’t have any horses or cowboy boots in my story.) And my series is set in the 1990s, which technically is indeed history, be it ever-so-recent. What we realized was a terrific fit for her blog was the topic of research.

With very recent history, it’s hard to remember when, exactly, certain things were introduced into mainstream society. Now, for example, cell phones are a fact of life. But in 1996, could a character be relying on a cellular device as his primary means of communication? Turns out, if he has enough money, he could buy the first razor-thin flip phone in 1996, so this was a perfect fit revealed by my research. I shared a much funnier story about Jimmy Choo shoes with Joyce that you can read on my post there.

We both love Western history, be it recent, old, or ancient. Why? Probably because we both love adventure, and the kind of characters who think big and live up to their dreams. The West used to and still does dish out some of the biggest obstacles in life. What does it take to be unsinkable? It takes both head and heart.

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Responses

  1. Thank you, Mara, for your kind words and observations. I loved hosting a portion of your virtual book tour, and learned a great deal from it. – Joyce


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