February 02, 2014

Will the Real Virginia City Please Stand Up?–Guest Post by Amber Stokes

Time to share another special post today, this time my first guest post by Amber Stokes! Amber is the author of the newly released historical romance, Forget Me Not, (which is excellent, by the way.) and I am thrilled to take part in her blog tour. As part of the tour, she’s written this great post on a place I’ve wanted to visit since I was in my early teens. Being a diehard fan of Bonanza, it’s fascinating to learn more about the real Virginia City. Amber is also hosting a fantastic giveaway, which you can learn more about and enter at the end of this post.

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“Here in the West, we’re livin’ in the best”—Bonanza! I’m a long-time fan of all things American West and Virginia City, Nevada, in particular. There’s nothing more fun than exploring what you love in your writing, and Forget Me Not showcases this Wild West mining town made famous once again by the TV show, Bonanza (which I’m also a fan of).

But the Bonanza show, while very enjoyable, did present a Hollywood-ized version of Virginia City and the surrounding area. Here are a couple of misconceptions viewers might have about the town:

100~ Virginia City is flat and looks like every other Western town portrayed on television. The fact that Virginia City is generally portrayed as the same as every other Western town on TV might have something to do with the Hollywood set. ;) Virginia City was actually built on a hillside—on the side of Mount Davidson (AKA Sun Mountain). You can learn a little more about the town’s history and see some pics on the National Park Service’s website. During my family’s visits to the town, I’ve been impressed by the steep streets and the way the town sort of tumbles partway down the hill. On one of our trips a few years ago, I got the chance to visit an archaeological dig above the town, where the highest street would have been. Supposedly, from what I was told then, the Cornish miners would have lived on that street. And that’s how Myghal—my Cornish miner character—came to life in my mind!

099~ Virginia City is a hop, skip, and a jump from Lake Tahoe. One would certainly think this after watching Bonanza. How often does one of the brothers or Pa say, “We’ll ride into Virginia City and tell the sheriff”? Or tell their guests, “We’ll head over to Virginia City in the morning”? The map of the fictional Ponderosa Ranch is a little vague with the distance details. According to Google Maps, Incline Village (where the Ponderosa’s ranch house was built, at least for the theme park—you can learn more about the former park HERE) is about thirty-eight miles from Virginia City. Of course, that would be the quickest/easiest route today with our paved roads. Hard to say what the quickest/easiest route would be by horseback, without roads... But I believe it’s quite safe to say the trip would be at least a day, most likely a couple of days or more, especially with a group (like in Forget Me Not) and over such terrain. Remember, Virginia City was built on a hill, and the town was surrounded by other hills. One of our friends we made in Virginia City joked that there was a magic portal that allowed the Cartwright boys to get from their ranch to town so quickly. ;)

075Despite the inaccuracies, I still love Bonanza—and I realize that my own stories, while addressing the above issues and not limited by TV sets and budgets, are a bit fanciful. I let my characters travel around a lot (giving them a little more time to do so, though, haha). I don’t portray the bad language that would have likely been rampant in a mining town. I imbue my stories with drama and adventure, touching on some of the harsh realities, but doing so from my limited point of view and understanding.

Still, I quote Henry Tilney, hero of Northanger Abbey (referring to the BBC movie version), in defense of the romance novel and other forms of fiction (like Bonanza): “Perhaps [there are] not quite so many murders and abductions [in real life]. But broken hearts? Betrayals? Long-held grudges? Schemes of revenge? And fear? Hatred? And despair? Are they not part of all our lives?”

Indeed, Mr. Tilney. Bonanza and Forget Me Not may portray Virginia City differently, and both aren’t quite the real Virginia City of the 19th century. But both express emotions and struggles and discoveries—in some form or fashion—that are very real to humans of any era and in every town.

What is your favorite historical setting? What makes historical fiction feel “real” to you?

P.S. As a fun little aside, I’ve got my own Joe and a black-and-white horse (or two) in Forget Me Not. (“Little Joe” is one of the Cartwright brothers from Bonanza, and Cochise was his black-and-white pinto.) And in case you were wondering, my favorite brother is Hoss. I find Little Joe the most charming, but Hoss is so incredibly sweet and thoughtful and adorable!

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You can see the rest of the stops on Amber’s blog tour here: http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/p/forget-me-not-blog-tour.html

About the Book

FMN-ebook-cover2Prequel to Bleeding Heart
Old hurts, new betrayals, and a love that survives them all...

Summer 1885

A startling revelation sends Elizabeth Lawson escaping into a stormy night - and tosses her into the arms of a young mountain man with secrets of his own. When he offers to take her to the Nevada mining town where her long-lost brother lives, she accepts. Suspicions and uncertainties are pushed aside as she struggles to forge a future for herself by meeting her past.

David has been hiding from his painful memories for years. The solitude and wildness of the Rocky Mountains are challenge and comfort enough for him - until Elizabeth's arrival. Fueled by anger and a sense of obligation, he strives to take control of his new situation...only to find control slipping from his grasp with each new emotion Elizabeth evokes in him.

When their journey leads them on unexpected paths, can two lonely hearts find the strength to remember the good amid the heartbreak?

Inspirational Historical Romance

Book Website: http://forgetmenotnovel.blogspot.com/

Series Blog: http://theheartsspringseries.blogspot.com/Amber

About the Author

Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing.


An “Unforgettable Journey” Giveaway! Enter for the chance to win an epic entertainment package that includes a signed paperback copy of Forget Me Not, The Journey of Natty Gann on DVD, and “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars on CD. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

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Amber Stokes said...

Thank you for the lovely introduction, and for the chance to share about Virginia City, Bonanaza, and Forget Me Not on your blog, Molly! :)


Sandra Leesmith said...

Great post Molly, l loved hearing how Amber came up with the use of Virginia City as her setting. I have been there several times and grew up in Lake Tahoe area so of course loved the unique setting. And she writes a great story to go with it. Thanks for the great interview and review.

Amber Stokes said...


I think it's wonderful that we're familiar with many of the same places/settings. :) I love the Virginia City/Lake Tahoe area!

Thank you for checking out this post!