Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ride for Rights: The Real Life Women Behind the Novel

I'm excited to say that my historical YA novel, Ride for Rights has been through content edits. I now feel it's a good time to talk about it a bit more on here. I want to tell you the story behind the story...

In the fall of 2010, my husband and I took a vacation to South Dakota and of course, we had to hit the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. (My husband is a biker through and through.)

Augustine Van Buren
While browsing this ultra cool museum (that I originally didn't want to go to as I wanted to walk thru a Victorian house instead!), I came across some information about two fascinating "biker chics" in American history, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren. Here is their website: Van Buren Sisters Website

In 1916, these remarkable sisters decided to ride their motorbikes from New York to Los Angeles. Keep in mind, the highway system had not yet been built... They donned trousers, jumped on their Indians, and they rode..  to prove that women could be motorcycle dispatch riders.

The real life women went from Buffalo to Chicago to Omaha to Denver, up Pike's Peak, to Salt Lake, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

I was excited by this information and I rushed to find my husband and I said to him, "I am gonna find a book on them as soon as I get back to my laptop!" And I did search for a book on them and much to my dismay, I didn't find one. And so I said, "I'm gonna write one!" This is how Ride was born. 

Adeline Van Buren
Adeline Van Buren
In Ride for Rights, a fiction novel loosely based on the amazing Van Buren sisters, Angeline and Adelaide Hanson undergo a similar journey (with different twists and turns) as they travel from Buffalo to Detroit... to Chicago where they are dance hall girls for a night... to  Peoria, Illinois... to St. Louis where they join a touring Suffrage movement to Kansas City where they have a run in with some unfriendly fellows. From Kansas City, the Hanson's head to Dodge and they have problems with the local sheriff.. See, women didn't wear trousers much back then....

Like the real Van Burens, Angeline and Adelaide summit Pike's Peak. The real sisters did this ride only weeks after the road was opened.

The Ride for Rights sisters spend some down time in a castle called Glen Eyrie and then head on to the Salt Lake desert where they get lost... and oh somebody finds them... but is it really a rescuer??

I don't wish to reveal too much of the story so I'm stopping here, but I cannot stress to everyone enough.. check out the real Van Buren sisters website. It's truly amazing what the real women accomplished. They are now in the AMA Hall of Fame and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.

Bob Van Buren, a descendant of the Van Buren sisters, says, "Although Ms. Chevrestt’s creative tale of these two women is purely fictional, she has accurately captured the spirit and challenges that the Van Buren sisters experienced in their journey in 1916."

I can't possibly express my joy and gratitude to have a descendant of those amazing women say something like that about my work.

Please note once again that Ride is a work of fiction and though I used the real life sisters' ride as a basis, everything that happens to the Hansons is a figment of my imagination. An author's note in the back of the novel separates all facts from fiction.


  1. Your book sounds really interesting! I love when YA stories are based on history. I can't wait to read it!

  2. I am so interested in this subject. I am researching a non-fiction book for girls with women just such as the Van Burens. Thanks for the info. I also found a courageous woman, Alice Ramsey, who was the first woman to drive a car, Maxwell, coast to coast in 1909. Much like you, I found the information about Alice at the Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo, MI. Reminds me of your gals forging their own roads across the US. I cannot imagine such a harrowing trip. Looking forward to your book release!!

  3. I'd like to read your nonfiction. That sounds right up my alley.