My novel Quicksilver to Gold is dedicated to Kelly and Katy. Let me tell you about these young ladies, and why the book is dedicated to them.
Kelly’s full name is Kelly Jean Horner. She was one of my students when I was a DDF (drama debate and forensics) coach at a high school. I worked with Kelly for three years until she graduated, and saw her a few times afterwards. She was bright, vivacious, always ready to jump in and help or participate. Kelly had a great sense of humor and a hatred of injustice, wanting everything to be fair for everyone. We shared a love of music, books, and writing. I read a few of her suspense stories, and her voice and word choice were excellent. We talked a lot about common interests and she kept me entertained during the long nights at tournaments. When my Katy joined DDF, they grew to be friends and debate partners.
Katy is my daughter. She and Kelly were a great team, their skills leading to a strong showing at the State tournament that year. Katy is also intelligent, full of life, and a natural leader. And she’s beautiful and talented enough to earn the title of Miss Alaska (which she did, but that deserves its own story another day). Both Kelly and Katy displayed roller-coaster emotions and unending enthusiasm in their teens.
Kelly died from an undiagnosed heart condition in her sophomore year of college. It was devastating for her family, but heart wrenching for all of us. It is hard to lose someone so young and so full of potential. At the time, I was just starting to plan the book that became Quicksilver to Gold. I decided to base the main character on Kelly, as a tribute.
Of course, I couldn’t transplant Kelly directly into Nome in 1900. For one thing, Kelly wasn’t used as a first name back then, so I made it her last name and used her middle name instead. Jeannie, like most girls from mining families then, is largely uneducated, so I directed Kelly’s intelligence into her ability to mine gold and learn new things. Her zest for life and keen sense of justice were easy to apply. As time went on, the book became my homage to both Kelly and Katy. Jeannie’s beauty, and a few other qualities, are borrowed from my daughter. By the time the book was complete, Jeannie had become her own person, with her own qualities as well. But the inspiration was definitely from Kelly and Katy.
To two young ladies I will always adore, I dedicate this book.