In the mid-1850s, there were over 30k children living on the streets of New York City. My goal with each book is to show the situations leading up to the enormous homeless children population. Each book will show how that child came to be living on the streets or in the asylum. Through their stories, I’ll show why so many parents were unable to care for their children and the conditions that spurred one-man- Charles Loring Brace- into action. His goal, to help save the children that so many in the city looked upon as nothing more than cockroaches littering the streets. With help from his high society friends, Reverend Brace formed the Children’s Aid Society. The CAS was instrumental in sending the children out on the orphan trains.
Each book in The Orphan Train Saga is written with the hope that the reader will see that the orphan train program, though far from perfect, was a necessary tool to help get the children out of the city, thus offering them a chance at having a better life.
Though many in today’s society are appalled at how some of the children were treated, it is important to know that most of those placed out had good lives. Due to the high death rate from disease and infection, it is also important to note that most of those children would not have lived to see their eighteenth birthday had they not been sent out on the trains.
Before you make up your mind that this was a political evil, it is also important to note that this was NOT a government program. In fact, the placing out program (orphan trains) was the catalyst that helped to invoke government programs aimed at helping keep families together. The Placing Out Program was the beginning of the modern-day foster care program and helped to put other many other programs, such as child labor laws prohibiting factories from hiring children in place of men.
Over two-hundred-fifty-thousand children were sent west to find new homes. My goal is to keep those children’s memories alive and further educate the reader by throwing in snippets of forgotten history to help keep the books exciting.
The books are void of swear words, and I try to keep graphic scenes to a minimum.
Though I initially believed this historical fiction saga geared towards adults, I have a fan base ranging from eight to ninety nine according to my latest fan mail.
Now for a bit about my saga…
Discovery is the first book in the saga where Cindy and her mother discover the journals hidden in the attic. In reading the journals, Cindy, her mother Linda, and the reader learns of the life that stole her grandmother’s love. Traveling back in time to when her grandmother was just a child, we learn of her father’s death during the trip to America from Poland in search of a new life. We learn of the institutions in which the children live. In having Mileta’s mother drop her at the front door, I show the ease with children could be tossed aside. Something reiterated when Mary tells Mileta her mother dropped her there on Christmas day with promises to return. Another child holds firm to the hope their papa will return one day. During Mileta’s journey on the trains, a couple attempts to adopt her while in route to Detroit. This scenario did occur during at least one of the original placements. A child was adopted and later replaced with another child along the way. Also, in Discovery, we meet Tobias and are introduced to the infamous Purple Gang. A notorious Detroit gang so ruthless that even Al Capone was afraid of them.
Shameless, the second book in the saga, tells Tobias’ story. Shameless is set in both New York City and Detroit. The reader will join a young Tobias at his “home” in the graveyard of St. Paul’s Chapel, take a disastrous ride on an ill-fated subway- which will later be known as the Malbone Street Wreck- one of the deadliest crashes in the United States as well as the deadliest in the history of the New York Subway system. Shameless also probes deeper into the Purple Gang and of whisky running during prohibition. We meet a new cast of characters, including Franky (book 4) and Slim (book 5.) We meet Mr. Twichell, a good friend of Mark Twain, who shares words of wisdom with a young Tobias. We get to see more of the placing out process and what happened when placements didn’t work out. We learn the finer points of picking pockets and travel to Chicago and have a brief encounter with Al Capone. We’ll follow as Tobias meets Mileta and see what motivates his fierce protection instincts and sets the tone for the first five books in the saga.
In Treachery, the third book in the saga, you’ll delve into the life of Anastasia and see if she is as rotten as she’s lead us to believe in previous books. Or, if she is merely a product of circumstances which landed so many children onto the streets. Treachery is full of history and dives headfirst into the lack of child labor laws as Anastasia worms her way into working at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Then hold your breath as she barely escapes the 1911 fire that claimed the lives of 146 garment workers. You’ll bear witness to the plight of unwed mothers in the early 20th century and discover what lengths mothers would go to see their children safe.
Guardian, the fourth book in the saga, releases on October 20th, 2020, with Franky’s story. Travel to Chicago and meet Judge, who takes in Franky and gives the boy and the reader a brief tour of the windy city in 1926. Next, you’ll arrive back in Detroit, where Franky is one step away from being caught up in the Purple Gangs. During the course of the book, the reader will take a ride with Jimmy Hoffa, meet a young Audie Murphy, and travel to Italy when a grown up Franky recounts his brief stint in Anzio during WWII.
There will be eighteen books in the saga and they are so intricately weaved together you’ll want to read them in order. Along with those planned within the saga, I’ve already begun working on several “extras”-spinoffs if you will- that will allow the reader to see what happens to some other characters they will meet along the way. Loyal, book five in the saga, will be released in 2021.
If you are looking for romance, you may find yourself disappointed. If you are looking for brief snapshots of real 20th-century history wrapped within the stories of children who want nothing more than to survive in a world where so many around them are perishing, I believe you will fall in love with The Orphan Train Saga.
You can order signed copies of the books on my website. You may also order print books at either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Each book is available on Kindle and can be read for free via Kindle Unlimited.
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