Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This posting recently appeared on the website.

A Divorce Ranch Can Be A Dangerous Place 

One of the first questions often asked of an author when their new novel first appears in bookstores, particularly if they are a debuting author, is what expertise or inside knowledge gave them the necessary insight to create the plot and characters used to tell their tale?  Or maybe, what inspired them to write this particular novel?

The answer to those and many other questions is unique to each author and the story they’ve crafted.  When my first novel Reno Splits: Mystery on a Nevada Divorce Ranch made its debut last year, similar questions came my way.  Many readers initially were drawn to the story because of the title, in particular the divorce ranch reference.  Most had never heard of such a place.  What was a divorce ranch they wanted to know?  I was able to answer that question because I did know, but only because I’d grown up in the central valley of California at a time, the mid 20th century when divorce ranches existed, some would say flourished on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains just across the state line near Reno, Nevada.  There, women, many of them rich eastern socialites and sometimes Hollywood film stars, would come to stay and be entertained on dude ranches that catered to their every need and whim while they waited to establish the six weeks legal residency required by Nevada to obtain a divorce.  I knew all that but had consigned it to the back recesses of my mind as I grew to adulthood and moved on with my life. 

Fast forward almost fifty years to when my legal career was winding down.  Beginning to think of myself as a budding author, I was busy researching and starting to write my first manuscript (which after many false starts and lots of change of direction has become what will be my second ePublication later this summer).  One afternoon during that time I found myself sitting in my ophthalmologist’s office next to a stack of long out of date magazines.  By chance I picked up a copy of Smithsonian and thumbed its well-worn pages until my eyes settled on a two page spread about the now extinct Nevada divorce ranch industry.  I suspect I smiled at what I was reading, not only because it brought back memories of a simpler time of life, but also because the story was planting a seed in my mind.  What if I was to create and write a murder mystery centered around life on a divorce ranch?  Within weeks, as the first images of what that might entail flooded my imagination, I found myself on an airplane to Reno to start the research process and to see if any remnants of the divorce ranches still existed.  With considerable assistance from the staff of the Nevada State Historical Society I was able to pull together enough material on that trip to validate going forward with the now fully germinating seeds that were spouting in my mind.  So much so that I put my first story aside and plunged ahead with what became Reno Splits 

Did I have the expertise to create the story?  Of course I did.  I’m a writer.  That’s what I do.  Did I have inside knowledge about the subject matter sufficient to tell a credible story?  A bit, certainly a lot more than most people because of the knowledge about divorce ranches I’d gained as a youngster.  But most importantly, with the help of historians with access to necessary facts, figures, and historic pictures, I’d parlayed that iota of factual information, into a story that painted an accurate portrayal of a time and place that existed for only thirty to thirty-five years.  A time that will never exist again except in history and on the pages of Reno Splits.  If you’ve read my story, I hope you enjoyed it.  If you haven’t you might give it a look.  It can found at Amazon, Amazon U.K. and other eBookstores.





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