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I remember when the idea for Midnight Lover hit me. I was reading Nevada Magazine in the lobby of the Princeton Medical Center. My then ninety-year old grandfather had broken his hip the day before (and, trust me, that is a story in itself) and my husband and I had driven down from Long Island to see him before his surgery. Grandpa was a man of the old school. Not even a broken hip and assorted painkillers could dull his mind. We talked as we waited for him to be taken into surgery and he told me some stories I hadn’t heard before.
He was a child of the American prairie. Born in Kansas, one of four children, before the turn-of-the-last century. He remembered riding in a prairie schooner as his family made their way from one part of the state to another. Proud of his country, he was also proud of his native American heritage, of the Chippewa blood flowing through his veins and mine. One of my prized possessions is a tintype of my great-grandmother crouching down in her calico dress and staring into the camera, as if daring it to steal her soul.
That morning before surgery, his stories were endless. The cruelty of the land. The beauty of it. His father’s savagely broken heart when my great-grandmother died young. The children were scattered to surrounding farm families. The girls were no trouble to place. Grandpa’s older brother was big enough and strong enough to work the land; a farmer took him in immediately. Grandpa, however, was skinny and young. Too old to be a cute little boy yet too young to be a productive farm worker.
“I was turned out to grass,” said my grandfather that April morning, “with a note pinned to my undershirt and a coin in my pocket.” He was twelve years old and alone. He rode the rails across the country, working wherever he could to keep body and soul together. He grew up fast and tough and made his way by rail to the Grand Tetons where he worked at a logging camp until the outbreak of World War I.
I knew I was looking at a hero being born. (And didn’t my five-times-married grandpa just love that!) Just that morning I’d read a delightful article in Nevada Magazine about the old mining town of Pioche where, back in its heyday, women had swarmed its streets, marrying the hapless male citizens before they knew what hit them. In a switch on Lysistrata, the men banded together to form a secret society whose sworn duty was to steer clear of matrimony for one full year. That would teach those husband-hungry spinsters a thing or two . . . and maybe make the streets safe for decent men again!
Why not take Jesse Reardon, a hero sprung from my grandfather’s stories, and place him in Silver Spur? Why not make him the richest, toughest man in town? Why not have him embody everything Silver Spur is – or claims to be?
Why not bring Caroline Bennett, formerly of Boston, to town? Make her beautiful, bright, and while I’m at it, why not make her the only woman for miles around who isn’t interested in marriage.
I had a wonderful time writing Midnight Lover and it was a thrill to hand Grandpa his own copy when it was published. He’s gone now but his stories remain, both the ones he lived and the ones he inspired.
Thanks to the internet and the explosion of e-book readers, two of my historical romances from the late 1980s have a new lease on life. Both Fire's Lady and Midnight Lover are available at most of the ebook sites. Click MIDNIGHT LOVER and you'll be taken to Amazon where you can read a sample or buy a copy of your own. (And they're only $2.99!)
NOTE: Fire's Lady will be available in a few days. Sorry I don't have a hot link to give you right now.
He was begotten in the galley and born under a gun. Every hair was a rope yarn, every finger a fish-hook, every tooth a marline-spike, and his blood right good Stockholm tar.
PS: I'm Barbara Bretton and you can find me here and here. Leave a comment behind and you'll be automatically entered in a drawing. The winner will receive signed copies of CASTING SPELLS, LACED WITH MAGIC, and SPUN BY SORCERY and a little sweet surprise.
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