The Lady Scribes are happy to welcome historical romance author E.E. Burke, and we can't wait to hear more about her exciting new project, Passion's Prize.
OK, I admit it. I’m a fan girl. I love the AMC’s television series Hell On Wheels, which follows the construction of the transcontinental railroad through the lives of characters who inhabit the moving city they dub “Hell On Wheels.” Its deliciously gritty, authentic, the writing’s fantastic and the characters are amazing—tortured, passionate, determined, multi-dimensional.
When I first saw the show, I got excited about the idea of developing a historical romance series based on stories behind the early days of the railroads. That fascinating period in many ways shaped America into the country it is today.
But the most fun I had launching this project was the opportunity to write with two very talented Golden Heart® sisters, Jennifer Jakes and Jacqui Nelson. We were Golden Heart finalists in 2010 with historical Western romances, and the three of us got excited about the idea of writing a big railroad story like the one on television. The result of our collaboration is the anthology, Passion’s Prize, the first book in the series, Steam! Romance and Rails.
Before embarking on this project, I’d never given much thought to writing with other authors, but it’s been amazing. We feed on each other’s ideas and enthusiasm. They sharpen my steel. I’ve loved every minute of the opportunity to work with two incredibly talented writers who are as jazzed up as I am about Western romance.
We’re calling Passion’s Prize an anthology, but it’s actually three interlinked novellas. We wanted to create stories within a larger story, using our characters to tie them together. The overarching plot follows an actual construction race between two railroads with very long names dubbed The Border Tier and The Katy. The race took place primarily in 1870, when both lines were laying track through Kansas as fast as they could to be first to reach the border of Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma).
Congress had promised the winning line free land and the exclusive right to pass through Cherokee lands into cattle-rich Texas. The railroad owners were ambitious men willing to do just about anything to secure the prize. Their henchmen hired spies, saboteurs and even outlaws to disrupt the competition. Our stories revolve around three women—a spy, a madam and a railroad heiress—whose lives hinge on the outcome of this race.
Our novellas are also offered separately. Kate’s Outlaw focuses two people at opposite ends of a dispute surrounding the railroad’s claim to Cherokee land. Why did I pick this story? Probably because our family has Cherokee roots and I’m fascinated by the history and culture of Native Americans, and their struggle to adapt and survive in the face of aggressive expansion and extreme prejudice.
As bankruptcy looms, the Katy Railroad rushes to complete construction through unfriendly Indian Territory, but work comes to a screeching halt when a battle over land rights heats up. Determined to save the railroad, heiress Kate Parsons takes negotiations into her own hands. However, her plans go awry when she’s abducted.
Jake Colson, known as Wa-ya, “the Wolf,” among his people, didn’t intend to kidnap anyone, but now he's stuck with a white woman whose personality is as bold as her fiery curls. When his partner threatens to kill her before she can expose their scheme to save their land, Jake takes off with his beautiful captive. Now, he must protect the woman he’s named Redbird, and at the same time prevent her father's railroad from steaming ahead.
I’m giving away a free paperback copy of Kate’s Outlaw today in a random drawing of those who comment. Please include your email address to be entered into the drawing, so Samantha can contact you if your name is chosen. The winner will be chosen Wednesday morning.
For fans of “Hell On Wheels,” I’d love to know who their favorite character is and why. I have a tie: I love the main character Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), mostly because he’s so deliciously flawed. He’s a tortured soul, a jumbled mass of contradictions. My other favorite is Joseph Black Moon (Eddie Spears) who appeared in seasons one and two. That character is the most upright and honorable of all the men on that show. He exemplifies the struggle faced by Native Americans who wanted to find a path to peace, but couldn’t reconcile two cultures so odds with each other.
If you don’t watch the show, do you have a favorite character from a Western? If so, who is it and why is he or she your favorite?
E.E. Burke writes sexy, suspenseful historical romance set in the American west. Her debut release, Kate’s Outlaw, is part of a new series, Steam! Romance and Rails, which features stories based on true events from the golden age of steam railroads. An avid fan of AMC’s Hell on Wheels, she was inspired to create a railroad-themed romance series after watching the show. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the prestigious Golden Heart®.
Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. Her stories are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all.
You can reach her at: