I grew up watching westerns. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, The Rifleman, Bonanza…. and many more. Colored, black n white, I’ve seen them and shows like Little House on a Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. At my age, when you were a kid, we only had one television in the entire house. I know, I can hear you all gasping now.
So, I sat with my dad and watched outlaws get chased by posse and good heated folks come together in old west towns and soldiers battle Indians all from the comfort of my living room. Plus, when I went to visit my grandfather, yep you guessed it, more westerns. But that wasn’t all, you see my grandfather was a coal miner.
His family was a mix of Indian blood and immigrated Hungarian roots. He would speak of this often, and I’d listen.
When the call came out to write a Christmas novella in the old west, I knew I wanted to write a story about a coal miner, in an old mining town, and it had to be coal not gold they were digging for.
I’d pondered this idea a few times, using my grandmother’s name Clara and my grandfather, Stephen as the two main characters, but hadn’t the inspiration until the Fruitcake Bride. Out of all the titles I could have selected from, this one appealed to me most.
My dad likes fruit cake. My mom used to bake him fruitcake (as I think you may have read in an earlier post), and so the ingredients for this story were laid out.
However, as I started the research, started to plot, the story changed and new characters formed.
I wanted traditional names, Hungarian and Swedish, as many of the rail workers came from those countries along with the Asian oriented population. So I had Stephen Keller and Clara Roberts as my main characters, but the more I researched and wrote, the more I knew those names didn’t fit.
Keller and Roberts are traditional last names taken from 1800’s census and so I went to the place I always go when looking for names, babynames.com and I searched for Hungarian names. That’s where I found Kati and Adam.
Adam – While Hungarian, it’s also Biblical.
Kati – (pronounced KAH-tee) short for Katalin or Katherine, both old fashioned names. A sweet name for a girl who loves to bake.
With my two main characters named, I moved on to my secondary characters, whom are just as important in many ways as the main two. You may also think of them as “supporting characters” kind like in the movies and you remember the guy behind the main actor or actress.
When I got to swirling this whole old west theme and an old coal mining town around in my brain, I had thoughts of Little House on the Prairie and Mr. and Mrs. Olson. You remember them?
Yeah, so Frank and Agnes Simmons were created in the Fruitcake Bride. These two characters run the company store, just like the Olsen’s run the general store in the Little House on the Prairie.
Simmons, goes back to my grandfather, it’s a family name. It’s a old traditional name as well.
Along with those old names, some additional character names for the book are as follows:
John Roberts – Kati’s father
Clara Roberts – Kati’s mother
Sezo, Toni, Jim – Mine workers
And yes, if you saw above I still used Clara. So what happened to Stephen? He’s in there, too, as the name of a young mine worker.
Beyond, Kati and Adam, these additional names may not feel important, but like the town or community you live in there are people, weather you know them by first name, last name, or what they do, they’re important. And so are these characters in creating the story of the Fruitcake Bride.
In my next post, I’ll set the scene and we’ll head to Annie Creek, SD.