Research – good, solid, grounding research -is essential for any book, but doubly so for a historical fantasy – and thrice that when you’re using extant and still in-use locations for your setting!
The Devil’s West books are set in the American West, the land that in our timeline was the Louisiana Purchase. I’d taken a major on American social and political history in college, so the bones of What If were already set: what if our exploration into the West had gone differently? What if, instead of a Gold Rush and a Land Rush, instead of Manifest Destiny, we’d been forced to slow down, to consider the territory west of the Mississippi a sovereign land, to be wooed and negotiated with rather than colonized? What if magic resisted “civilization?”
But writing about the Territory brought up a significant problem: North America is vast. The continental US alone is nearly…
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