Evangeline Payens?


Who is Evangeline?  A young woman very much of her time, the early 1800’s.  The first short story I’ve written about her was set in 1847, just at the start of her new life in California.  An urban transplant from the east coast, she and her father come west to settle in the freshly minted San Francisco.   Her father, Hugh Payens, an accomplished physician and academic has been sent by his patrons on a confidential undertaking.  Evangeline knows a little about her father’s patrons.  Enough to suspect the dangers that await them; enough to long to be a part of her father’s perilous, mystical, daring world.

She burst into life one afternoon commute home from work, listening to movie soundtracks on Pandora.  Sherlock Holmes blended with Indiana Jones and Jane Eyre.  Yeah, and there would be gold miner zombies.  And finally I could dig into all that research I’d done on 1800’s San Francisco.  I mean early early San Francisco.  Before the first fires.  Before the earthquake that everybody knows about.  New Born San Francisco, with the Barbary Coast in its first flush and the streets all unpaved mud.  The harbor so packed with ships loading in for the burgeoning Gold Rush that most never sailed out.

San Francisco on the cusp of the Gold Rush
San Francisco’s Wharves a Forest of Ships Masts

It took some time to go beyond the character and find a reason to write about her and her father and the time and place – and yeah, those zombies.  But finally it clicked.  Because I did have something to discuss about women – being one myself.; how to be strong as a woman.   How do we own that strength without taking from others to do so or bending our backs to give any up?