A New Map of the Southwest!
Did anybody read the first three chapters of my novel that I posted a few months ago? (Kinda dropped that one, eh?) Anyway, if you did read them, or want to read them, I'd like to ask you a few questions afterward.
But first, I want to show you a map...because what's better than a novel that comes with a map?!
Nope, that's not the southwestern USA that you're used to. A current map is underlaid but there would be many differences in land use. It's the early 1970s and my own world does not have an interstate highway system, though high-speed rail is coming in along similar routes.
You see, I just wanted to pretend to build a railroad through the Grand Canyon and then write a novel about it. But how exactly would that happen? The railroad, I mean. What events would transpire to make it possible? And why is it important for my characters? These are questions a writer must ponder!
While action of the novel is mostly limited to the Grand Canyon Railroad between Moab and Las Vegas, developing my characters and their backstories necessitated other changes to the political backdrop and development of the west. Here's a run from a few threads of history I tugged upon...
Utah Territory: Fiercely independent since the resolution of the Mormon-Indian Wars at the turn of the 19th/20th century. Utah claims all land west of (then north of) the Green and Colorado Rivers, and finally claiming land east of the Virgin River to its junction with the surveyed border of the Nevada Territory. Unhappy with the resolution, Utah refuses to hold a referendum for statehood and so remains a territory. Many rural areas, especially in the south, remain essentially un-governed for much of the 20th century.
Pueblo: Skirmishes between Mormon settlers and various tribes of Indians come to a boiling point in both Utah and Arizona. US soldiers enforce a "bloody ceasefire" campaign to stop the fighting while Roosevelt negotiates a surprising resolution and establishes the Indian State of Pueblo (with congressional representation but only a single non-voting senator). Discovery of uranium in Pueblo and a push toward nuclear energy after WWII makes Pueblo a rich and powerful state at the time of the novel. The boundaries of Pueblo are defined by the Rio Grande River, the watershed of the San Juan River, the Colorado River, and the Little Colorado...with a bit of straight-edge to get it back to the Rio Grande.
Gadsden Territory: Pretty much as it was purchased, except, I took the angle out and got for Gadsden that great port he wanted on the Sea of Cortez. Pissed off Mexico, I'm sure, but I'm probably not going to mention that. I probably won't mention either that Baja California (sans Sur) gets snagged by the USA. A couple of reasons I did this...I wanted the great port also, and I wanted to call it Rio Colorado, aka "Rio." (North America gets one too...besides, a little village with that name really is there.) It's also the place that my main character is planning to run away to. At the time of the story, Rio is a rough harbor city with a population near one million. Lots of crime but also lots of opportunity. Tucson is the territorial capital, a relatively quiet city of 30,000 or so.
Arizona: I'm sorry, Arizona...I really messed you up! But after cutting out some for Utah, a big hunk for Pueblo, and lopping off Gadsden, there just wasn't a lot left. I also moved your capital to Flagstaff and made it the center of the hippy movement. But, hey, I gave you some of New Mexico!
New Mexico: ...just lost everything west of the Rio Grande. *ducks and runs away*
Colorado: Well, here we have a winner...sort of. A gain in territory at Utah's expense; and hard fought for by Colorado militia troops during the war. Pueblo gets some land in the southwest corner.
Nevada Territory: It's like the state of Nevada, on territorial steroids!
Republic of Texas: As in independent. Yeah. Uh, I got no clue how that happened...but it sounds cool. Looks like they got the Oklahoma panhandle too.
So, that's some of the setting of my novel. But novels are about characters, the setting just helps get them where they're going. So if I have whetted your curiosity, I will now link you back to those first three chapters in which I introduce my three main characters.
Chapter 1 - Running the Falls
Chapter Two - Moab Station
Chapter Three - Gaganga Chain
On the advice of a local author and mentor, I will probably not be publishing future chapters of my novel here on my blog. But he was kind enough to read everything I had written and had many thoughtful questions, especially in regard to character development. And so that is my question to you, what are your thoughts about these characters as you are introduced to them?