Piecing Together Stories and Visions
Writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a fair question because most people who have not struggled through writing a book beginning to end (never just once, but countless times) logically seem to expect that a book comes from a single particular idea, and then the next book comes from another one.
The truth, for me, is that a book cobbles itself together from lots of ideas the same way dreams do. I snatch one bit from this location, another from that memory, a third from something my dad said, or my cousins told me, or from watching a film or sitting in a hospital waiting room. And then there’s research – the bits I don’t know yet, but someone else does and has kindly written about or is willing to talk about, that will help me vicariously live in the fictional world that is gradually taking shape. Finally, then, it coalesces (not without revisions!) into a book.
That was certainly true of A Cowboy’s Promise.
The hero, Charlie Seeks Elk, was born in an earlier book of mine called Gifts of the Spirit where he was a troubled teenager. I have known several of those. Once upon a time when we were in grad school, my husband and I house-dog-and-teenager-sat for a semester. Plenty of things we experienced then were grist for the mill of Charlie’s teenage years.
He needed a role model then, and the hero of that earlier book, Chase Whitelaw, reluctantly stepped up. Chase’s experience bridging life between his own urban Los Angeles and his father’s Navajo reservation owe more than a nod to my dad’s and his uncle’s experiences. They gained opportunities. They lost connections. They sought a future. They lost a past.
There were a lot of other ‘ideas’ that meshed when Charlie Seeks Elk came face-to-face with what eternity was all about after he was shot in a crossfire halfway round the world (I give thanks that I have no firsthand experience with that). And when those things came together, I finally had a focus – what Charlie didn’t have was the one person he needed most – Cait. And what Cait meant to Charlie was home.
She was the one who touched his heart, who made him whole. She was the one who mattered — too much — more than he dared let her. He knew how to be rootless. He didn’t know how to connect. It was safer not to. But facing eternity, Charlie had second thoughts.
Cait Blasingame was the embodiment of home. She might have seen lots of the world. She might have fallen in love with the wrong man. But when she goes back to Montana after years abroad as a nurse, she knows who she is, what she values, where she belongs. She isn’t prepared for Charlie reappearing in her life.
When my editor and I were looking for a series title for A Cowboy’s Promise and the other books that will follow it this year, home was a theme that underpinned all of them, so “Cowboy, Come Home” seemed a perfect choice.
In a way, it turns the iconic American image of the cowboy riding off alone into the sunset on its head. That cowboy doesn’t go home. He doesn’t have a home. Charlie wants nothing less.
The other two books coming later this year, The Great Montana Cowboy Auction and A Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle, also look at home, each in a different way. If you would like to win a copy of one of my earlier Tule releases, please tell me what is most important to you when you think about “home.” One or two commenters will be chosen randomly by the Tule staff and will receive a copy of the book they choose.
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