I have two sets of books here. The first is an alternative history of the US, envisioning how things might have gone had the French prevailed in the French and Indian War. That series comes from some personal experiences. I have canoed sections of the Fox, and driven along its banks. I have followed the voyageur route from the Sault to Quebec and traveled from Green Bay to New Orleans by car and by boat. My wife and I have spent many happy days on Mackinac Island and in Door County.
The Jessica Thorpe series is very different. It takes place in the tiny town of Amberg, Wisconsin, a place where I used to live. I began the series as a novel about a militia take over of the town, and it was initially called "Two Angry Men." But both men were predictable and boring. I had decided to have the story narrated by the town bartender - Jessica - and I soon realized she was the most interesting character in the book. She took over that book and became the lead in the Jessica Thorpe series.
In book two I wanted to deal with balancing environmental rights and business rights. I put Jessica right in the middle of a real problem we are experiencing here in Wisconsin (and most other places). How badly does a tiny town need jobs? How much environmental damage should we accept? Book three continues the environmental question, but moves into issues of religious rights and same sex marriage. I am very concerned about seeing Christianity used to hurt people.
Why does she go to Dubai in book 4? I spent a year teaching in Oman and wanted to reflect on that region and on my understanding of Islam. My daughter did two tours in Iraq, and my son did a tour in the Gulf, so this is important to me and my family.
The resort I used for an inspiration in book 5 is now closed - again. Too bad. I proposed to my wife there. There is no history of human trafficking there, but it certainly exists elsewhere, even here in rural Wisconsin. I know people are working hard to stop it, and I salute them.