Author Top 5 with Rae Carson


Today we welcome Rae Carson to YABC! Rae's new book, Walk On Earth a Stranger, is filled with gold, or rather, it's set during the Gold Rush era! This magical novel will leave readers dazzled an delighted. Read on to learn a few things about Rae, her book, the top five things women did during the Gold Rush, plus a giveaway! 



Meet Rae. 


Rae Carson is the author of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE CROWN OF EMBERS, and THE BITTER KINGDOM. Her debut novel, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, was named a Morris YA Debut Award finalist, an Andre Norton Award finalist, a YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Teens Pick, and received two starred reviews. She lives in Arizona with her husband. She can be found online at



Now meet Rae's newest book, Walk On Earth a Stranger.


The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times-bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America. Walk on Earth a Stranger begins an epic saga from one of the finest writers of young adult literature.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?


Sounds great, right? 





One thing I was sure I knew about the 1800s was that women had very specific – and limited – gender roles. It was the Victorian Age, right? When I started researching the California Gold Rush for Walk on Earth a Stranger, I found out I was wrong. Here are five things I was surprised to find that women did on the Westward Trail and in the California Gold Fields.


1. Women drove wagons


(Charlotte looked just like this)

This happened a lot. When her husband Bynon and their three-year-old daughter Stella got sick with dysentery, Charlotte Pengra was the one who climbed up into the wagon seat and kept them going. She wrote in her journal: “Though Bynon and Sis is very unwell, they are anxious to go on.  I drove just before we reached the river.  I was taken in great pain which resulted in the Dysentery…. I have suffered much pain and feel a good deal reduced but all are sick and I must keep up to the last.”



2. Women dressed like men


Did you know that bloomers – which in the mid-1800s were loose-fitting pants for women – were named for feminist act

ivist Amelia Bloomer? Young women on the California Trail were especially likely to wear them. Jane Kellogg, who was 22 when she headed west in 1852, wrote: “We wore bloomers all the way, the better to enable us to walk through the sagebrush.”


(Keira Knightley, in men’s clothes, looking like a boy since never.)

Some women in the Gold Rush just wore men’s clothes instead. Charley Pinkhurst arrived in San Francisco in 1851 dressed like a man. She got a job as a stage coach driver for Wells Fargo, and earned a reputation for toughness and fearlessness. After Charley passed away in 1879, everyone said they knew she was a woman all along. Her small hands, smooth face, and high voice gave her away. That means they let her pass and work in a man's job for 28 years, and never did anything about it. 




3. Women were ready to fight


Battles with Indians were rare, and when they did happen, they were frequently started by frightened or angry whites. But we know that the women on wagon trains were ready to use weapons if they needed to. Nancy Hunt wrote: “At night we placed our weapons of defense by the sides of our beds in our tents. I claimed the ax for mine, and always saw that it was close to me, but I never had occasion to use it...”


(Okay, I just wanted an excuse to use this Agent Carter gif. Because heck yeah, Agent Carter.)


And then there was Hallie Hodder, who carried a gun when she came back east after stopping in Denver. She wrote: “My cousin had provided me with a small revolver, and had taught me how to use it.”




4. Women did every job that men could do


If I believed what I saw on television, the only jobs that women had during the Gold Rush were housewife, prostitute, and school marm. We’ve already seen that they drove wagons and stage coaches and were ready to fight. But they did every other job too.


Own a boarding house? Run a laundry? Manage a real estate empire (even if it was in her husband’s name)? All well documented. In San Francisco, you could have your pick of several Doctors Quinn, medicine women. Lady barber? Midwife? Store owner? Soda maker? Detective? Check, check, check, check, and check. In the mining town of Rough and Ready, Mary Ann Dunleavey ran a bowling alley and saloon. In 1851, in Sonora, there was even a woman bullfighter from Mexico.


(Queen Bey would definitely have worn this outfit during the Gold Rush.)

These women came from everywhere. They included Indians, and African-Americans, and Mexicans, and Chinese. The only thing women couldn’t do was get into politics, a limit put on them by men, not by nature.




5. Women gave birth. A lot.


Squeezing a cantaloupe-sized crying machine out of one's body in a bouncing wagon a thousand miles from medical help created numerous incidents of both tragedy and heroism. The trail was littered with graves. If anything went wrong, there was no one to help, no way to turn back, and no time to stop.


(As soon as you're done, Sigourney, please make us some flapjacks.)

Many children made it into the world safely, though. For example, Helen Stewart wrote that they “traveled half the day and had to stop and Christie Bomgardner had a daughter added to her familie.” Sometimes the wagons stopped for part of a day, but just as often they were right back on the road. And women had to keep doing all their chores, before and after.


So there you have it. During the Gold Rush, women were ambitious, courageous, influential, and tough. Just like they are today.


We'd like to thank Rae for sharing ALL about women during the Gold Rush! And here is another BIG thanks for the following giveaway of Walk On Earth a Stranger!





Walk On Earth a Stranger

  1. By: Rae Carson

  2. Release Date: September 22, 2015 






Three winners will receive a hardcover copy of Walk On Earth a Stranger. US addresses only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. During this giveaway, Rae has a question for entrants. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: 
Would you have survived the trip west like Leah Westfall did in WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER? Or would you have succombed to dysentery or a stampede (Oregon Trail reference FTW!)?! 


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