SASKATOON — J.C. Paulson has previously written her novels in the mystery genre, but after her husband had a vivid nightmare, she found herself writing a story that drew her into the history of Saskatchewan before it became a province.
“Because of the way the book is structured,” Paulson told MooseJawToday.com over the phone, “the final third of the book had to be located somewhere along the railroad. And it had to be Moose Jaw, 100 per cent, that’s the only place that made sense to me.”
Paulson is a well-established Saskatchewan writer. She started her career in journalism, spending 17 years at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. She still writes for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, along with regular articles for several other Saskatchewan publications.
Altogether, Paulson has been writing for 30-some years, venturing into novel-writing for the past seven. Blood and Dust is her fifth novel.
Paulson’s first series is her self-published Adam and Grace mystery series, which has four novels and a novella.
She describes this fifth novel as a “sharp right” for her, not only because of the change in genre but because she decided to go the route of finding a traditional publisher instead of self-publishing.
Including research, writing Blood and Dust took Paulson about 10 months. There are other steps involved, she explained, such as sending the manuscript to test readers and editors.
Altogether, the process took about a year.
It started while Paulson was writing Griffin’s Cure (now finished), the fourth novel of the Adam and Grace series. She was experiencing a bit of writer’s block.
In an attempt to help “undam” her block, she said, her husband asked her to write down a particularly vivid dream he’d had.
Paulson’s husband is a goldsmith, and he found himself one night attempting to save a life using his goldsmithing skills. Objectively, it might sound humorous – Paulson says it was, in fact, quite horrifying for him.
“He asked me to write it down, to help him make sense of it,” Paulson said. “But I found it impossible to place the dream in the present. By late that afternoon, I had written a chapter situated in the early days of the Northwest Territory, some 25 years before Saskatchewan became a province.”
She named her protagonist after two of her husband’s ancestors. He became James Sinclair, an 1880s Toronto machinist-turned-goldsmith. A powerful industrialist unjustly accuses Sinclair of a crime, forcing him to flee for his life.
The book details his encounters as he runs west, pursued by rough men hired by his accuser. He becomes a leader who influences Métis traders and is lured into an encounter by a beautiful young woman.
Sinclair’s flight ends in Moose Jaw, which Paulson said will form at least part of the backdrop for a planned trilogy. In Moose Jaw, Sinclair makes his stand, having matured during his difficult and terrifying journey.
“I was delighted to place it (in Moose Jaw),” Paulson said. “It’s just a beautiful city. I love going to the train yards, I love the Tunnels, I love the spa. I just always have a wonderful time there.”
Paulson is about a third of the way finished what might be the final book in her Adam and Grace mystery series. She’s calling it The Maddox Verdict.
“I’m working pretty hard on that and hoping to get it right,” Paulson said. Once she’s finished that entry, fans of Blood and Dust can look forward to more of James Sinclair’s tale.
Published by Black Rose Writing, Blood and Dust is now available in ebook and paperback formats on Amazon (mybook.to/BloodAndDust), directly from the publisher (https://bit.ly/39nEhME), and on most online platforms.