Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barbara Bretton: Grandma and the Prince - Part 30

WINNER: Congratulations to Lolarific, winner of my May contest. Lolarific, send me an email at barbarabretton AT gmail DOT com with your mailing info and I'll ship out your prizes ASAP!

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.
--Naval Epitaph

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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TashNz said...

What a beautiful story about your Grandpa Barbara. The sad thing about the elderly passing on is we lose stories of heritage. Life will never ever be the same as it was before the first world war and then and anytime prior was such a unique period in history. I wonder what people will remember us for in 100 years time :)

Mary Preston said...

I did a double-take when I saw the cover of MIDNIGHT LOVER. At first glance I thought the man was naked except for the hat. The flesh colored trousers had me fooled. What was I thinking?


Alison said...

What an amazing story - and what a shame the family had to be broken up so young.

Na said...

I love the idea that older historical romances, or romances in general are being re-issued. I find I really gravitate towards these "old" books just as much as new one. Sometimes in the writing there is a difference "feel" between newer and older books and for me that is a good thing. It's not dated, rather it's a new experience.


Estella said...

I would loved to have heard your grandpa's tales. Sounds like he was a wonderful story teller.

kissinoak at frontier dot com

Jo's Daughter said...

Can't imagine being on your own that young and seperated from your family.... He must have had a strong spirit!

CrystalGB said...

What an amazing story about your Grandpa. Thanks for sharing with us. I love the cover to Midnight Lover.

traveler said...

Your wonderful and memorable stories of your family are special. I could listen forever. Fascinating and so important to think about.

petite said...

I am always enthralled and captivated with your wonderful posts filled with real life reminiscences.

Laurie G said...

I've never heard of the men in the old West not wanting to marry and forming groups to discourage marriage. Interesting! I wonder what actually happened once woman arrived and were available to marry.
Did they change their minds or stick to their guns?
You were blessed to have such a wonderful storyteller for a grandfather. It's a pleasure to know him through your blog stories.
I too like the reissues!

Unknown said...

my granfather was a hoot. and he hated canelope ,lol im glad when blogs, reminds olittle momnents with family members

and she juat had a bday yall~

Unknown said...

I feel I have say a hello to you, cousin! Well, I think you are anyway... One of my uncles told us he had met you once. My mums family name is BRETTON, and most of this part of my family live in QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA.. I must admit it gives me a thrill to be able to boast a connection to you, even though slightly distant lol! All that aside, I had already read two of your stories long before the family connection was made, and I love to love love stories! I'm also a keen reader of romance and paranormal and time travel romance books like lovespell etc. when out and about I'm always keeping an eye out for your familiar name! Hehe!

Unknown said...

My grandad was GEORGE EDWARD BRETTON,& I think he was from Lancashire, near Preston in England. I have been told by different people that he is also one of my guardian angels(sounding rather like a romantic theme already).. I would definitely enjoy reading more of your books, although, for me, ebooks don't enhance the sensual romantic experience of turning a page delicately, respectfully, reverently...! I go a little overboard maybe, but there is definitely something lacking/weird about taking a glowing piece of hi tech equipment to bed with you(to read, that is, tsk tsk!!)

Anyway give me a tatty, dogeared, novel any day! To me this is evidence of a truly, well loved, love story! Does anyone else feel similarly? What do you guys like...