Heather: Hi Janet! Welcome to The Maiden’s Court. I’m happy to have you stop by today and share with us more about your book, Timber Rose. Can you first tell me how you discovered indieBRAG and what being awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion has meant to you?
Janet Oakley: I first heard of IndieBRAG through social media. At this point, I don't remember which group or friend who knew about it, but I'm always looking for ways to get my novels known. And I wanted Timber Rose to get known. I decided to submit and was very pleased that Timber Rose was accepted.
Having the B.R.A.G. Medallion means a lot to me. In this crazy world of publishing, with so many books out there, having the seal on the book at my local bookstore or at book fairs shows that it has been vetted as a good read. I can also point to the URL where Timer Rose is listed as an IndieBRAG Medallion recipient in any social media or on my webpage.
H: Could you tell our readers a little bit about your book, Timber Rose, to whet their appetite?
JO: Timber Rose is set in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century. This was a time of the progressive movement, the move to protect the forests through the new Forest Service, women going for the vote (WA state women got that in 1910) and pressure from large logging companies to take it all.
Here's part of the back copy:
1907. Women climbing mountains in skirts. Loggers fighting for the eight hour day. The forests and mountains of the North Cascades are alive with progress, but not everyone is on board.
Caroline Symington comes from a prominent family in Portland, Oregon. Much to her family’s dismay, she’s more interested in hiking outdoors and exploring the freedoms of a 1907’s New Woman than fancy parties and money. She plans to marry on her own terms, not her parent's. When she falls in love with Bob Alford, an enterprising working-class man who loves the outdoors as much as she, little does she know how sorely her theories will be tested. Betrayed by her jealous sister, Caroline elopes, a decision that causes her father to disown her.
The young couple moves to a rugged village in the North Cascade Mountains where Caroline begins a new life as the wife of a forest ranger. Though she loves her life in the mountains as a wife and mother, her isolation and the loss of her family is a challenge. As she searches for meaning among nature, she’s ushered along by a group of like-minded women and a mysterious, mountain man with a tragic past.
When her uncle and her sister's ruthless ex-husband muscle their way into the national forest, threatening the nature she loves, and more importantly, the man she loves, knows she must take a stand.
H: Timber Rose, focuses on subjects such as the timber industry, the fledgling forest ranger program, and the Gilded Age – not subjects that we see together all that often. How did you come up with this subject and idea?
JO: It actually came about in a interesting way. A friend of mine in museum work shared a book she got as a gag for her wedding: What Every Young Wife Ought to Know. Published in 1906, it had the most useless information. Nothing about the wedding night. Then she showed the companion book published in 1908, What Every Young Husband Ought to Know. Chapters included the wedding night and the warning not to rape your wife. There was also a chapter on abortion. And the book was written by a minister. Incredible. This contrast made me wonder what it was like to a be a married couple in this time period. I had already written about my little mountain community in Tree Soldier. I chose some characters from that and told their story.
But, of course, historical fiction always leads to interesting places. Reading the newspapers, I saw that union activities in the logging camps were hot topics, as well as the creation of the Forest Service in 1905. I was surprised at the influence of mountaineering clubs on the creation of national parks in Washington State and the middle class women who embraced the challenge of hiking and climbing in skirts. As Caroline's story as wife, mountaineer, and member of her new world was fleshed out, so did the research shape the times. One character I'm especially fond of his Micha Thompson, who represents the pioneering past: his father was a Scots geologist, his mother Metis and Hawaiian.
H: Oh wow! What a different experience newly married men and women must have had at the turn of the 20th century!!! I love learning little tidbits like that.
The main character of Timber Rose is Caroline Symington. Do you see yourself in this character at all? Are any of your characters inspired by people you know? (I know this can sometimes be a tricky question!! Haha).
JO: Caroline Symington is from my imagination, but there are some elements in the story that come from my life experiences as I did hike mountains when I was younger and have tent camped from a very young age to now (albeit an 1860 tent at a national park). Bob Alford is certainly closer to my late husband, Rolf. His father was a Swedish immigrant from the 1920s. Rolf loved the outdoors, especially steelhead fishing. He was jealous when I interviewed Ralph Wahl, a storied fisherman who invented winter fishing in the cold Skagit River. The two of us with our three sons fished, hiked and camped all over Washington State, some in wild places on the Olympic Coast.
H: While the North Cascade Mountains may not be as glamorous a location as Paris or some other far flung location, have you had the opportunity to enjoy/explore the setting of your novel? Do you enjoy hiking or communing with nature?
JO: I have been camping in a tent since I was very young. Both of my parents were Northwesterners and I knew their stories too of camping in the wilderness. I have explored the area around the real setting of Frazier in Timber Rose. It was the jumping off point for mountaineers going up to climb the white headed, 10,781 foot Mount Baker (Kulshan in the novel, but that is actually its original Indian name). It's a very rugged area filled with rushing creeks and thick forests as it stretches up the mountain's flanks. Known more for mining and logging, the arrival of the mountaineering clubs in 1905 changed the way people viewed the area.
H: I'm going to have to find out more about these mountaineering clubs, they sound interesting.
For those who have not read your work, how would you describe your writing style?
JO: Well, I hope it is a storytelling style that moves quickly where needed, but also sets the historical scene where my characters live and breathe.
H: What drew you towards independent publishing as opposed to seeking out a traditional publisher? Has there been anything that was more or less challenging that you expected? Would you do it again?
JO: After many years of pitching and querying agents, making the finals in lit contests and getting full reads, I finally decided to find out what indie publishing was all about. Tree Soldier was the test and after it went to win some national awards and get picked up as an Everybody Reads library event, I decided to do it again with Timber Rose. In additional to the IndieBRAG medallion, it was 2015 WILA award finalist, a very prestigious award, so I think my instincts were right. Don't sit around. Do what is best for your book. I have had memoir essays traditionally published and I did continue to pitch and get full reads as recently as last summer for my next novel, The Jossing Affair.
Indie publishing is hard work, but for me very rewarding. You do have to do your own marketing, but traditionally pubbed writers now have to do that too. And there are technical issues in formatting and getting edited. I do have professionals do that for me now, though I have always had my books edited. Indie authors are a lively and informed group. I've enjoyed the company of some amazing writers this past week who were indie and traditionally pubbed. Very stimulating. For my novels, it's the way to go.
H: I love hearing those success stories of authors who have been able to find what they are looking for through indie publishing. For our readers, any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
JO: Write every day, even if for 15-20 minutes. Write a scene. I wrote my first novel while standing in line at the bank on the back of an envelope. Join a critique group, but look for one that gives back positive feedback. If your local bookstore has visiting authors, go to their readings. Submit to contests that provide feedback. I appreciate the Pacific Northwest Writers for doing that. I entered many times, became a finalist a couple of times, but always got back two critiques that were very helpful. Most of all, never give up. Writing is a passion. In today's environment, it's a business too, so pay attention to that. (Get professional editing) But never give up.
H: Excellent suggestions! Thank you for coming by today Janet!
Janet Oakley is an award winning author of memoir essays and novels. Her work appears in various magazines, anthologies, and other media including the Cup of Comfort series and Historylink, the on-line encyclopedia of Washington State history. She writes social studies curricula for schools and historical organizations, demonstrates 19th century folkways, and was for many years the curator of education at a small county museum in La Conner, WA. Her historical novels, The Tree Soldier set in 1930s Pacific NW and The Jossing Affair set in WW II Norway were PNWA Literary Contest finalists. Tree Soldier went on to win the 2013 EPIC ebook award for historical fiction and grand prize for Chanticleer Book Reviews Lit Contest.
She writes both non-fiction and fiction, applying her research skills to both types of writing. In 2006 she was the manager of a History Channel grant, researching old court cases in early Washington Territory.
She especially enjoys the hunt in old newspapers, court cases, and other delights in archives around the country. The history of the Pacific Northwest is rich and not as well known in the rest of the country beyond Lewis and Clark’s passage through, yet crucial happenings took place here that influenced the formation of United State of America. In December 2012, an article on a 19th century bark that was a part of the coastal trade between Puget’s Sound and San Francisco was published the prestigious Sea Chest.
Find Janet Oakley: Website | Blog | Facebook
1907. Women climbing mountains in skirts. Loggers fighting for the eight hour day. The forests and mountains of the North Cascades are alive with progress, but not everyone is on board. Caroline Symington comes from a prominent family in Portland, Oregon. Much to her family's dismay, she's more interested in hiking outdoors and exploring the freedoms of a 1907's New Woman than fancy parties and money. She plans to marry on her own terms, not her parents. When she falls in love with Bob Alford, an enterprising working-class man who loves the outdoors as much as she, little does she know how sorely her theories will be tested. Betrayed by her jealous sister, Caroline elopes, a decision that causes her father to disown her. The young couple moves to a rugged village in the North Cascade Mountains where Caroline begins a new life as the wife of a forest ranger. Though she loves her life in the mountains as a wife and mother, her isolation and the loss of her family is a challenge. As she searches for meaning among nature, she's ushered along by a group of like-minded women and a mysterious, mountain man with a tragic past.Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
A Message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Heather has chosen to interview Janet Oakley who is the author of, Timber Rose, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Timber Rose, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court