Friday, February 10, 2006

Research Treasures

One of the pleasures of being a writer are the pearls you find when researching.

"Snow Drifter" is set partly in Aspen and partly in the Australian snowfields near Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales. The mountain was named by Paul Strzelecki in honor of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish freedom fighter and American War of Independence General, because he thought standing on its peak gave you a view of what freedom should be.

We met a descendent of Paul Strzelecki in Cooma and spent a day with him exploring the area, meeting locals and listening to their tales. In the process, he told us the story of how Paul Strzelecki left Poland and came to Australia.

He fell in love with a seventeen-year-old heiress living near his home, Alexandrina Turino. He called her his "beloved Adyna". Her father wasn't happy with the match. He was saving her for a wealthy suitor, which Paul certainly wasn't at the time. Lacking her father's consent, they eloped, but were caught before they'd covered 20 kilometres. The ensuing scandal drove Paul out of Poland. Although he wrote to her for the rest of their lives, and even sent her a pressed flower from the top of Mount Kosciuszko, they didn't meet again until he visited her in Switzerland when she was sixty.

The message is don't short change your research, because you never know what you'll find.
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