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A year ago I was given the opportunity to write a book for the newly-conceived Cherry Lake series. All I knew about the concept back then was that the series would be set in a small Montana town on Flathead Lake, and that the main characters would be descendants of four brothers – returned soldiers – who founded the town and planted cherry orchards.
I’ve worked with an amazing group of authors on this series. We whittled down the four brothers to one living ancestor, Nate Jackson, the grandfather of all of our characters. Early on the editorial director at Tule mentioned that one of the characters could have a secret family. I loved that idea so I quickly grabbed that character for my own. He became Nate’s oldest son and the father to my hero, Alex, in The Secret Son.
In all, Nate had two sons and two daughters who form the second generation and are the parents of our characters. Nate’s backstory and his own romance is fleshed out in the free prequel novella, Small Town Secrets by Roxanne Snopek.
Either the hero or heroine of our stories are first cousins and have always been part of each other’s lives. It’s been fascinating watching their stories evolve and interweave to create a sprawling family saga. One by one, we created businesses, stores, restaurants, parks, and secondary characters until we had a town that feels real, with real people and places, a colorful history and a vibrant present.
As well as the family connection we wanted another layer linking our stories. Riffing off the idea of the secret family we decided that all of our stories would be about secrets of some sort. Small town secrets.
I truly hope our readers enjoy discovering the lives and loves of the inhabitants of Cherry Lake as much as we, the authors, did in creating them.
Award-winning author Joan Kilby writes sweet, sexy contemporary romance with a touch of humor. When she’s not working on a new book Joan can often be found at her local gym doing yoga, or being dragged around the neighborhood by her Jack “Rascal” terrier. Her hobbies are growing vegetables, cooking, traveling and reading–not necessarily in that order. Happily married with three children, Joan lives in Melbourne, Australia. She loves to hear from readers so feel free to drop her a line. For contact details and more info on Joan’s books, go to http://www.joankilby.com.
I’m lucky to belong to a family that loves to create “family books.” These pictorial directories trace our family tree back to… well, a long way. As a kid, I thought they were worse than boring. They were embarrassing! I mean, look at the hair, the clothes.
Now, I’ve got much more appreciation for how the people I’ve come from affect my own life path. Of course, none of the entries tell me the sort of things I really want to know. Come on! Birth, marriage, baptism, death. There’s so much more! How about the scandals? Were there honestly no divorces? No affairs? No long lost uncles or disappearing fathers? No surprise babies or extremely healthy premies? (Oh, yes, there were. Check the dates.)
In writing the novella Small Town Secrets, I was able to use that curiosity to crack the window open on a family that is, to me, much more than a properly posed grainy black-and-white photograph. Cherry Lake founder Nathan Jackson has faced huge decisions, impossible choices. He’s made mistakes, he’s found love, lost love, created love and reclaimed love. He’s pretty great, as grandfathers go. Even as dads go, though he believes otherwise.
My little snapshot paves the way for the first book in the series, Joan Kilby’s book The Secret Son. In it, you’ll see how choices made in one generation trickle down into the next, and the next, and the next, unbeknownst to those following. So much makes sense, when you know what came before. Oh, you’ll love this one, trust me.
We’re all part of an intricate web of brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, family by blood or family chosen, young and old, near and far. Join us as we explore the hidden side of our favorite small town, Cherry Lake, Montana. It might not be on any map, but it’s as real as they come.