The vital importance of laundry

While visiting a historic fort in the middle of Texas (or somewhere in the middle, it’s a big state!), I of course perused the site’s book selection. (As an aside, these are almost always worth checking into because they’ll feature books that can be difficult to find on purpose and thus almost have to be stumbled over by accident.) And what did I find?

Soap Suds Row: The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses, 1802-1876. Jennifer J. Lawrence. Glendo, WY: High Plains Press, 2016.

Usually main and/or point-of-view characters come into mind (through various ways, some are really sneaky about this) and then I go off and do research to ensure I’ve got details about times and places and cultures done as right as I am able (on the understanding that I will get things wrong, hard though I try to avoid it).

In this case, I already had a crew of main and/or pov characters for the Twisting short story sequences. No more were needed. Except . . . the instant the cover caught my eye, I realized that there had to be another main and/or pov character — a military laundress. I haven’t reached the point where she’ll appear on the scene (she’s in San Antonio right now, and the key characters gathering for the expedition are in New Orelans, preparing to leave and head west) — but I already know which story she’ll show up in first and the pov of that character would have a hard time without her!

That’s the thing about research. Sometimes it follows stories, sometimes it leads, and sometimes it goes wherever the heck it wants.

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