Those characters are misfits sometimes. They behave like real people (if you are on the right track) and don't always do the "right" things. "Good" people do bad things and "bad" people do good things. It makes the process interesting and fun. I try to zip myself into each character's skin. I want them to be believable.
The mindset of the west in the 1800s is a lot different than the way people think in the 2000s. My grandparents were raised in the 1800s and a lot of the standards were taught to my parents who did not stray from those standards. I have to admit that I have eased up on some things, but the basic truths are still cemented in my bones. That also helps with writing about this time period.
I am excited for you to read the books following "Nan's Journey". I think you will become invested in the characters and the story. Keep watching...you never know when they will be coming out!
I want to encourage those of you who have a story in you. Write it down! There is a great feeling of accomplishment to see it completed on your own computer screen. Most people don't get that far. Then, take the next step. For me, it was sending it to the publisher. For most, it is finding an agent. Take one step at a time. Don't get bogged down in the process. Like Nike says, "Just do it!"