Today I was interviewed on Shana Norris’s blog. Shana is the author of the new release, Surfacing, as well as The Boyfriend Thief and Troy High. Check out the post and find out which character from Linked I enjoyed writing about the most!
Behind the boring name—California’s First Theater—is a remarkable little building. A building that serves as a hideout enveloped in a net of magic in my novel, Linked. On the corner of Pacific and Scott Streets in Monterey, even without the magic, it’s one of the area’s most unique historic buildings—a building that always struck me as full of mystery. Jack Swan, an English sailor of Scottish ancestry, built the wooden portion of the building in 1845, with lumber salvaged from a shipwreck.
Jack added the adobe portion, and then it served as a rooming house with a barroom. When he built a small stage and benches in 1847, it became California’s first theater, though no one called it that at the time. But that’s not all that was done first at Jack Swan’s place—Jack also made and sold the first pies in California. Imagine, California with no pies!
In 1906 the California Historic Landmarks League bought the building and donated it to the State of California. As Joel, Linked‘s young cowboy from 1874—excuse me, Joel. Stockman from 1874— says, “Nice what they bother to keep the place up, made it into a museum. Ain’t no proper name, though, California’s First Theater. They ought to call it Swan’s. It were Swan what made it what it were; it weren’t never the same without him.”
Jack Swan is a fascinating figure, but what’s always intrigued me about his building is the shipwreck. As a teen in the Monterey area, I imagined what it would be like living in a house built with the lumber from a wrecked ship—a house built from the wreckage of others’ dreams, from shattered lives. Whenever the topic came up, I asked about that shipwreck. How did the ship sink? Were the passengers rescued? No one had the answer.
I’m sure someone out there knows, and if you’re that Monterey County history buff who has those secret details, please do contact me! But . . . I write fiction. I’m in the business of making things up. So of course I had to make up the answer to my questions! And those answers became an essential part of the story behind Linked. Here is part of the shipwreck scene from Linked.
“Somebody has to do something!” Luisa turned to the men, who were dripping with sweat and shaking with exertion.
“Please! Tio, Papa, it was an accident!”
Neither turned or even flinched. They were deaf to her cries, blind to what they were doing to all of them. Just like the boys. The boys she loved so much, ached for so much, and yet hated—hated for what they had done to each other, now to all of them.
Now the boys were dead, and magic roared out of their fathers—each of whom blamed the other for the tragedy—and into the ship itself. It severed one of the masts, which swept the deck with a broom of flaming sails on its way down. Smoke filled the air. The snapping of wood broke like thunder through the night, and the unceasing vibrations of magic rattled Luisa’s teeth so that it seemed they would crack together and fall right out of her head. Then the planks collapsed beneath her. She was falling. There was only cold, only black, only silence. A silence that terrified her more than the bone-shaking noise.
That shipwreck, caused by a terrible clash of magic in the 1840′s, would forever change the life of modern-day teen Andra Quincy, who comes into the possession of Luisa’s magic bracelet, and discovers the power of the magic that destroyed that ship and that still infuses the old timber walls of California’s First Theater.