When Once is not Enough . . .

National Archives Photo

Photo from National Archives

Patricia Grady Cox – October 7, 2018

Every now and then I think about writing a sequel to HELLGATE, my most recent novel, set in 1880 Arizona Territory. That thought gained momentum recently as I watched a PBS documentary about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Prescott’s small Chinatown (50 Chinese in Prescott according to the 1880 census) consisted of homes and businesses primarily along Granite Street. The community offered services such as laundry and restaurants alongside opium dens (legal at that time).

May 5 1882 article about Chinese Exclusion Act copy

May 5, 1882 article in the Weekly Arizona Miner, a newspaper published in Prescott, Arizona Territory

The Chinese Exclusion Act, based on economics combined with racism, marked the first time the United States took action against any class of immigrants. With legal entry into the United States severely limited, Chinese immigrants began to enter the United States through the wide open border with Mexico. Sometimes they disguised themselves as Mexicans and learned a few words of Spanish in order to fool any authorities they might encounter.

Learning about this little-known episode in our Southwestern history inspired me to develop a new subplot for that HELLGATE sequel — a plotline that would dovetail perfectly with an already imagined quest into Mexico to find Mad Mason McCabe’s winter hideout. And it provides new opportunities to expand the roles of  Kam Le and Kimo, secondary Chinese characters in HELLGATE. So far, it’s just an idea. The new possibilities are still percolating. You never know where inspiration will come from. And where will the sequel lead? I won’t know for sure until it’s done! Stay tuned!

Leave a comment and let me know how you feel about sequels! Readers – what makes a good one? Writers – if you’ve written an unplanned sequel, how did you approach it?

In the meantime, you have plenty of time to read HELLGATE – it’s available on Amazon in hard cover or Kindle or you can order a signed copy via my webpage.

The act signed by Chester Arthur on May 6

Library of Congress – Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

The act page 2

President Chester Arthur signed the bill on May 6. Evidently the Weekly Miner had advance notice.

 

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8 comments

  1. Dick Aldrich · · Reply

    I say go for it. If it’s half as god as Hellgate, it will be a fantastic novel!

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    1. Thank you for that! I’ll do the best I can!

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  2. jacobnesauaolcom · · Reply

    Trish, yes, I’ve always found this subject fascinating. I hope you do follow this chain of thought.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. Isn’t that the great thing about writing historical fiction – you learn so much!

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  3. Betty Barbara Downes McCreary · · Reply

    I like the idea of sequels because you have ready made characters to start out with and and you already have some idea for the story. Will be interesting to hear how your work on this goes.

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  4. I see pro’s and con’s – my concern is to make the second book as stand-alone as I intended the first to be. Choosing how much of the back-story to include (and how to include it) are issues I need to research. But I am thinking it’ll be fun. Thank you for your comment!

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  5. I’ve never been a big fan of sequels, personally, but it is a great topic. I love that you’re going to research how to make it a stand-alone book. Have you read any Jamie Ford? He covers the Chinese experience in Seattle in the early 1900s.

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    1. Thank you for commenting! I always get enthused when I come across a piece of history that is a revelation to me. And this seems so timely with all the immigration issues. When I wrote Hellgate I had no intentions of writing a sequel, and actually wrote another novel since then (looking for an agent). So Hellgate was designed to be a stand-alone book, but when I thought about it there were enough “loose ends” to move forward with something. I just don’t know how yet! lol I would like the sequel to also be a stand-alone experience. Maybe I’ll go reread Lonesome Dove and the subsequent books to get some hints.

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