Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Story Elements: A Midwest Summer Night's Dream

The heroes of the Old West always intrigued me, probably because I'd grown up with TV shows like Bonanza, The Rifleman, The Virginian and The Lone Ranger, all rugged men who survived hardships with stoic grace, but who never hesitated to help others whenever needed.

While I never base characters on anyone I know, I do sometimes borrow names for some of my heroes and heroines. My sister Annette's a genealogist, and traced our family history back to a French Canadian fur trapper named Peter LeVert. The Anglicized version of LeVert is Green, and my paternal grandmother's name was Nettie Green. So my hero became Jebediah Greene.

The imprints of the Native Americans who lived on the Eastern coast also influenced me while growing up. Their names were everywhere. The road I grew up on was an Indian name, I believe from the Lenne Lenape tribe though I'm not certain. This story begins in Tipton, Missouri, a major stop for stage coaches.

Several Native American tribes made their homes in Missouri, but for this story, I chose the Osage. The women of the tribe took care of the farming, the men hunted and sometimes fought to protect their people. Men and women alike were storytellers, artists, musicians and healers. Osage artists were famous for their wood carving and beadwork. They seemed like the type of tribe I would fall in love with, so I let my heroine, Winona, fall in love with their ways too. She'd never been particularly fond of domestic chores in Philadelphia, but the camaraderie of the Osage changed all that.

I'd read about the mountain man Jim Bridger who made his living as a hunter, trapper, trader and guide. He was also an illiterate who loved books and hired others to read to him. In this way, he memorized passages from Shakespeare and recited them along the trail.

Shakespeare's provided inspiration to countless writers, too. One of my favorite movie versions of Shakespeare (besides the Franco Zefferelli production of Romeo and Juliet) is A Midsummer Night's Dream with Kevin Kline, Rupert Everett, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christian Bale, and others.

While my story's not a fantasy, both the hero and heroine love this Shakespeare play and make reference to it.

On a side note, I found this Beatles rarity while looking for the movie above. Enjoy!


LD Masterson said...

Not to ignor the rest of the post but that Beatles video was priceless! Thank you for sharing it.

Cate Masters said...

Wasn't that great, Linda? I'd never seen it before but loved it.

Fairday Morrow said...

So fun to learn where you got your inspirtation for your character names. I think it is cool that some of the names go back to your family tree. Also- I love The Beatles clip. :)


Cate Masters said...

Thanks Jess! It's good to share all that research. :) Occasionally a family member or friend will make a cameo (in name only)!