I’m often asked how many of my stories are extracted from real life and my usual response is that my books are kind of like jigsaw puzzles. Some of the pieces are from my life, some are from loved ones’ lives, and some are straight out of the blue. But a couple of the books I have releasing this summer seem to have more pieces of me than usual.
One book (Westward Hearts) is the beginning of a historical series inspired by true stories I heard as a child—stories about my ancestors who traveled to Oregon in covered wagons. I’d always wanted to write a book about pioneers, but I never consider myself a “historical” writer. But then I wondered: why not? I’ve had such fun with these adventurous characters and their challenges on the Oregon Trail. I can relate to a lot of them, and I like to think that some of them could’ve been similar to my ancestors. And if you think about it, we are directly connected to the generations that have gone before us. Why not try to learn a few things from the past and incorporate them into the present? At least that was my hope in creating this series.
The other series that seems to have parts of my life in it is my Inn at Shining Waters series. The third and final book, River’s End, is available now. These stories involve a fictitious inn set upon a real river—a coastal estuary near and dear to my heart. The river is called the Siuslaw and we have a little coastal cabin that is close to the place where the real “river’s end” was, before it was diverted another direction by a long jetty. However, I didn’t even realize this as I wrote the book. But this story just seemed to turn into another one of those art-imitating-life-imitating-art moments. So fun!
And in these particular books, there are three generations of Native American-descended women, who are trying to understand themselves and each other. Women who make mistakes and learn to forgive and start over again . . . becoming stronger as they work together for a common purpose. Again, this isn’t so different from how I grew up. Because I was raised by a single mom, my grandma and aunts stepped up and played a powerful role in my life. I love writing stories that have these kinds of connections to my life—and for readers who want to know me better, these are the books I’d recommend they sample.
You can get started with the Inn at Shining Waters series today!