I love how the series’ six novels intertwine. Of course it didn’t automatically happen while I was writing them singularly, and to connect them wasn’t easy! I had to go back and make it all fit, altering story lines in a previous novel or novels making sure time lines, ages, and statements made, etc., matched up. Keeping track of multiple characters’ ages was particularly challenging, to say the least, since the series begins in the mid-1890’s and currently stands in 1939.
Liam and Eva had five children. As the epic series grew, I would come to a point where I had to stop and designate every character’s age so the integrity of the characters, especially how the children behaved or spoke was in line with their development. I based toddler and grade school children behaviors in the story on my twenty-year experience teaching preschoolers with disabilities. In that job I had to know behaviors, cognitive levels, speech/language acquisition, and physical development at each age.
As Liam’s and Eva’s children started having children, I was figuratively ripping my hair out keeping track of ages. Same thing when I continued with the third generation. Now, that generation is starting to have children. Holy moly! It makes my pea brain hurt just thinking about it. Somewhere in my numerous notebooks there is a master list.
There may be more, but I recently discovered one discrepancy with Liam’s and Eva’s grandson Brendan. When I recently re-edited the third novel Wild Rose Ranch, one more time for professional editing, I noticed his birth year was off one year. I began his coming-of-age story in the sixth novel Home for Thanksgiving and miscalculated. At first I said “oh hell,” but then I said “f— it,” remembering Diana Gabaldon writing that she did not care about a discrepancy of a year with the age of one of her characters. If I come to a place where it’s easily fixed, I will do so. Otherwise, it is a very minor point when Brendan’s story is being told.
It’s the same with the historical backgrounds. I remember a bit of a discrepancy with the time line of when Mesabi Range mining in Minnesota North Country actually began, with regard to when Eva and Victor arrive in Virginia, Minnesota and Victor is hired at the mine. In cases where I directly infuse European or American history into the story, I tried my best to match it up. In cases when actual events happened, or when I used actual historical figures that don’t quite match story line with actual events, I invoke my fictional license. I’ve incorporated several historical figures as minor characters fictitiously.
Eva and the Irishman series’ novel two, Wild Rose and the Horseman focuses on Ellen’s coming of age, yet there are follow-ups from Liam’s time before Eva. Their story continues in all six novels. Story lines with minor characters are either continued or new lines are introduced. Some story lines end. What I’m trying to convey is that this multi-generational story is as genuine a replica of anyone’s family as I can get it.
To fill in gaps in Eva and the Irishman, I’ve written two short stories. Agrafena explains what happened to Victor’s brother Eino, who loved Eva but ran away when he lost her to his older brother. The second short story The Meeting is a reunion between Eva and Olga, the woman that Victor leaves for Eva. The two women face each other for the first time in nearly four decades to come to terms with Victor’s impulsive and fateful choice in 1892 and the far-reaching consequences that choice unleashed. In the second novel, Wild Rose and the Horseman we don’t know the whole story of David and Alice when he leaves to become a Marine sharpshooter sent to France in 1918, and when he comes home, how his Shell Shock is dealt with.
While the novel graphically accounts his time in the battle of Belleau Wood, the short story The Homecoming delves into more of his time in basic training and what happens to him after he leaves the twenty day battle wounded, and what he goes through in his rehabilitation at Walter Reed. It also shows how Alice, his young wife deals with him being gone for so long.
I can go even further and say that the non-series and ninth novel with the working title of Thread the Needle is a spin-off of sorts from the short story Agrafena, involving Eino’s grown children on an Agricultural Cooperative in Karelia, Soviet Union, and a true story from my own family’s Finnish-American history in the early part of the twentieth century and a little known historic phenomenon called Karelian Fever.