This is a great time to be writing a memoir; hell it’s a good time to be writing anything. The memoir portion is relatively easy as I have lived the story and kept detailed records through it all. After telling my backstory to set the stage, I alternate chapters with the storyline from the 1800s to bring the main characters to life for the reader. Through that process, I have realized how similar we are even more than a century later.
All the modern tools are at my disposal. Research is easier now than ever before although I do still write the occasional letter to a source for some material. The internet is an incredible resource, especially with access to pre-1900 newspapers. In those bygone days, reporters were desperate for news to print, or at least seem to be on occasion. That has helped me to trace the characters’ actions and piece together much of their stories. Once in a while, a minor detail sparks a further investigation that yields more details. People have surprised me with their assistance as well. Libraries are always a great source and again the internet allows for quick and easy contact.
On the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Mathew Roderick by mine employee Joe Keane near Camp McKinney, the Calgary Herald ran a story. The writer reported that Matt’s brother John ambushed Joe Keane on the same trail and shot him dead off his horse. When I first read the report, I thought there was a good angle for a writer to appreciate and expand on. But my investigation found Joe Keane continued to work in the mining industry in Idaho for years after. I found John still living in South Dakota and seemingly not hiding from the law.
Another headline grabbed my attention when I read that Roderick had shot and killed his mother in New York City. Our Roderick did hail from NYC but this was a different one. Apparently a Mr. Roderick was argueing with a drunk on the street. The interaction escalated to the point of Roderick drawing a pistol to shoot the offender dead. But mom stepped in to stop the fight and did so, by taking the bullet. She died on the scene. That could have added some drama but alas it was of no use to me.
And that is also the problem with the internet; it’s too easy to get side-tracked and lose one’s direction. I had to drop my tv cable for the very same reason; too much interesting material to watch. My tv is limited to library movies and documentaries and minor internet browsing. There are simply not enough hours in the day even with a pandemic keeping me inside.
But life is what we make it. There is a great story about the gold bar theft and I will do my best to make it an enjoyable read. And leave the fiction out.