My Aunt Lillian, born in Vancouver in 1895, told me how her father had arrived from China after the gold rush. This meant he was a shopkeeper in British Columbia during railway construction. Unfortunately, Aunt Lillian mentioned little about that time, so it was a dim foggy place in my mind. I grew up in Chinatown, where our neighbours were six elderly Chinese men. They had left their families in China long ago, and they died in Canada without ever seeing them again. When I think of Chinese workers in early British Columbia, I remember these men.
I enjoyed reading the Dear Canada diaries, where the past came alive in realistic and personal ways. With two university degrees in history, I had always worked at bringing the past to wider audiences. This chance to write detailed and authentic history delighted me!
Writing Blood and Iron merged fiction and non-fiction. The need to be accurate presented a challenge because details could not be "bent" to serve the needs of my story. At the same time, however, to get today's young readers to read and enjoy this journal, I realized it needed story elements such as conflict, high stakes and vivid personalities. I'm very happy with the result and I hope you'll enjoy it too.