Meet the Author: Bear Lake Family Saga

To win an ebook or an Audible audiobook, answer this question: “Why do you like historical romances?” and your preference of ebook or audio.

Who is Author Linda Weaver Clarke?

I was raised among the Rocky Mountains of southern Idaho and live in Color Country in southern Utah. I am the author of 23 books. I have several genres that I write in—a Historical Romance series: Bear Lake Family Saga, a Mystery Suspense series: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans, a Cozy Mystery series: Amelia Moore Detective Series, and a Period/Adventure Romance: The Rebel Series. I am also a missionary at the Family Search Center. I help people find their ancestors and learn about their heritage.

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What draws readers to this historical romance series: Bear Lake Family Saga?

This series has strong female characters who have a destiny to fulfill. Each woman wants to make a difference in someone’s life. No matter the trial that comes her way, she is ready to fight for what she believes. I love the male characters. Even though they are strong and masculine, they have their tender moments that can melt your heart. Bear Lake Family Saga has plenty of adventure along with a tender love story.

What was the inspiration for this series?

My ancestors were my inspiration. I was writing their histories so my children would learn to appreciate their heritage. Their stories were intriguing and full of adventure. When I was done, I decided to write a historical romance series and give these true experiences to my fictional characters.

Give us a brief description of each story in this series.

Melinda and the Wild West (Book 1): Melinda is a schoolteacher. She has many challenges but it’s a rugged rancher who challenges Melinda with the one thing for which she was least prepared—love.

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger (Book 2): Edith is a nurse. When a mysterious stranger starts writing to Edith, she gets to know a man’s inner soul before making any harsh judgments. Whoever he is, this man is a mystery but is he as wonderful in person as he is in his letters?

Jenny’s Dream (Book 3): Jenny is an aspiring author. She has a dream to fulfill, but the only thing standing in her way is an unpleasant memory, which has haunted her since childhood. She must learn to forgive before she can follow her dream.

Sarah’s Special Gift (Book 4): Sarah is a beautiful and successful dance teacher but she is not an average young woman. Sarah is deaf, but this does not stop her from living life to its fullest. And it does not stop her from falling in love with a man who needs her help.

Elena, Woman of Courage (Book 5): The Roaring Twenties was a time of great change, when women raised their hemlines and bobbed their hair. As Elena fights to prove herself as the town’s first female doctor, the town’s most eligible bachelor finds it a challenge to see if he can win her heart.

Are your books in audiobook form?

Yes. I have a narrator who is narrating them for Audible. I have one narrator for Melinda and the Wild West, and then changed to a different narrator for the next four. Carolyn Kashner actually sings in Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, and she has such a lovely voice.

Who is the most intriguing character in this series?

I love all my female characters, but I feel that Elena from Elena Woman of Courage is the most interesting. She has to endure a lot of prejudice from the town bully who feels that women doctors have no right to practice medicine. But that isn’t all. This story takes place during the roaring twenties, and Elena has decided to be a part of this new generation by bobbing her hair and raising her hemlines. That takes a lot of courage. Of course, the town’s most eligible bachelor finds her most intriguing. He actually admires her tenacity. I admire Elena, as well.

(For history buffs: Bobbed hair caused a lot of commotion. A teacher in Jersey City was ordered to grow her hair back by the school board or she would be fired. Women with bobbed hair were fired from prestigious department stores without any warning. A preacher pounded the pulpit, saying that a “bobbed woman was a disgraced woman.” The raising of hemlines had its problems, as well.)

They developed a new vocabulary during the roaring twenties. What were some of the words you discovered while writing this story?

This was the fun part of writing Elena Woman of Courage. During this time period, theyLindaweb spoke a language foreign to their parents.  Here are some examples.

If you were excited about something, you say: Cat’s pajamas!

If you didn’t agree with someone, you say: Ah, horsefeathers!

If you were a feisty woman, you were referred to as: a bearcat.

If you were an attractive woman, you were referred to as: a doll.

Women were also referred to as: a tomato.

When John wanted to “spoon” with Elena, she said: The bank’s closed.

A woman’s body was referred to as a chassis and her legs were gams.

Where can readers find you?

My website has sample chapters to read: www.lindaweaverclarke.com

My Audible Page: https://www.audible.com/author/Linda-Weaver-Clarke/B004P47EWO
My Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/ZA-z2ckme8w

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Childhood Memories, Adult Discoveries

I remember the house–a big two-story white clapboard, with a large wrap-around porch, and the stairway inside that my parents had to block so I wouldn’t try to climb up with my stubby two-year-old legs and fall back down. I remember the scent of tea, the warmth of the coal-burning stove in the corner of the living room, the hardwood floor covered with a bright rug and horse blanket throws on the sofa. Granparents house Ingomar

This is the ranch–known then as “the McCollum Place”–my grandparents moved to in the early 1940s after years of moving around, following the grass for their horses. This was the place they lived the longest, “retiring” in the early 1960s. This was my first home that my parents shared with Grandma and Grandpa for about three years after my mother emigrated from Germany, striking out on a journey of unknowns to the promise of a new and better life.

I hadn’t been back since I was a teenager, but when I visited Montana recently I drove to Ingomar, the “town” nearby. Ingomar is one of those places that you have to WANT to go to–you’re not going to happen upon it while traveling the regular Montana routes. Once the sheep shearing and shipping capitol of Montana in the early 1900s, it then boasted 46 businesses including three banks, railroad station, two elevators, two general stores, two hotels, two lumber yards, plus rooming houses, saloons, cafes, a drugstore, blacksmith shop, claims office, doctor, dentist and maternity home. Now the population is 14 and the main business is the Jersey Lilly Saloon and Cafe.Jersey Lilly

I had a vague recollection of the direction of the ranch from Ingomar, but I asked for directions, and I’m glad I did. Boots, the proprietor of the Jersey Lilly, glanced out the window at my car. “Good, you have all-wheel drive,” he said. I gulped. He explained they’d had some rain recently and the low-lying spots might still be muddy. Since my car was new to me, I dug out the owner’s manual to make sure I knew how to put it in four-wheel mode, just in case.

We (my sister-in-law, Marylou, & I ) followed Boots’ hand-drawn map: turn right after the cattle guard, keep going past the stock tank and you’ll have to open and close the gate… for eight miles over the rough one-track road. Fortunately, no mud remained, and I didn’t have to test out my vehicle and my memory of Montana mud-driving.

We found the house, which is still inhabited by Lance & Connie Moreland, very nice, hospitable people who are leasing the ranch. I had to smile at my memory of this “big” house. It’s two-story, all right, but it’s not large. How cramped the quarters must have seemed to my mother! The porch was not wrap-around as I had recalled, but still was a good-sized one on the front. I remember a photo of mini me at the rail with a chicken egg next to several large hailstones.  The staircase is still there, and the hardwood floors. The Morelands told me that unfortunately the owner doesn’t want to spend any money to fix up the house, so it is a bit on the dilapidated side.

But I’m glad it’s still lived-in and not falling down. Heidi with egg & hail

Published in: on November 7, 2014 at 6:19 am  Comments (1)  
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author_photo_sml-cropMy author guest today is Carol Buchanan, descended from Montana pioneers and homesteaders. She is a longtime nonfiction writer and student of Montana history and has turned to historical fiction with her first novel God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana.

Carol, as a Montana native myself, I’ve always been fascinated by the Vigilante Justice era. What gave you the impetus to write about the Vigilantes?

When I was in junior high, my parents and I took a trip around Montana. We stayed in a motel (now defunct) in Virginia City, where much of the Vigilante activity took place. One evening after dinner I walked up the hill to the “Hangman’s Building” where the Vigilantes hanged five men at once. I went into the building, and as I stood there, I heard the ropes creak on the beam where the men were hanged. That moment is still with me. When we came home to Montana, I knew I had to write it.

What made you decide to write the book as fiction rather than nonfiction?

I needed more elbow room than a straight history would give me. I believe in historical fiction being as tight to the history as possible, but history doesn’t give a writer scope to imagine what it would feel like to put the noose around the neck of someone you knew. Wilbur Sanders, the actual Vigilante prosecutor and leader of the Bannack branch of the Vigilante organization, had been Henry Plummer’s guest at Thanksgiving dinner just six weeks before he helped to hang Plummer.

You’ve done a masterful job of building the characters, especially the protagonist, Dan Stark. I love how he carves as he thinks during difficult situations. Is this character closely modeled after a real person?

Dan Stark isn’t modeled after anyone in particular. He has Wilbur Sanders’s position with the Vigilantes because I don’t think it’s kosher to put thoughts in the heads of people who really lived. After all, how could I know 145 years later what they thought? It seems extremely disrespectful to do that. So I just elbowed Sanders aside and put Dan Stark there. And a former two-term County Attorney for Flathead County gave generously of his time and knowledge as a prosecutor to help with how an attorney might think and act during a trial. It was he who suggested the carving.

I know Henry Plummer was a real individual. How many of the book-cover_characters are based on real persons?

Either they are real people in the story or they are purely fictitious. The main fictitious characters are Martha and her family, Dan Stark, Jacob Himmelfarb, and Tobias Fitch. Others include Lydia Hudson, and Tabby and Albert Rose. Paris Pfouts was real and the Vigilante president. John Creighton was also real. He later went home to Omaha to build Creighton University, and eventually the Pope made him a Papal Count for his services to the Catholic Church.

These men were rough, crude individuals, yet with a spiritual side. Is that what you gleaned from research about them?

Yup. Walter Dance did kneel in the street to pray with and for the five as they were being led to their execution. While the sources give some of the comments, no one mentions the prayer, so I wrote one for Dance. Creighton was a devout Catholic.

You must have done an inordinate amount of research. How long did it take you to research and write this book?

Seven years.

Were you able to interview any of the Vigilantes’ descendents?

No. One wrote to me that his grandfather had burned a bunch of papers. Others mentioned that they were descended from Vigilantes, but I didn’t “interview” them. I did have plenty of reminiscences from some of the Vigilantes themselves, most never published and housed in the archives of the Montana Historical Society in Helena (our state capital).

Were they proud of their heritage?

They seemed to be.

The story includes quite accurate depictions of playing poker and characters who spoke German. Do you play poker? And speak German?

I studied German in Germany while I was in graduate school in 1969, and a lot of it has stayed with me, but I don’t speak it any more. The poker question is really funny, because I don’t even like card games and have never played poker although my father tried to teach me when I was a kid. My husband sought out a computer poker game that includes both 5-card and 7-card stud, and I learned to play from that. I thought of visiting casinos here in Montana, but my old red Jimmy is fairly noticeable and I could just imagine the talk there’d be in this small town if people saw it in casino parking lots. Besides, 5-card is almost never played any more, and 7-card is likewise an old game.

You were the winner of the Women Writing the West short story contest this year. Congratulations! Have you always been a writer?

Yes. I was writing stories and even a couple of novels before I got into high school, and got my first paid writing job for the local newspaper during high school. Later, after college and graduate school, and a recession or two, I joined a Seattle-based aerospace company as a technical writer and stayed with them until I retired in 2001. During the 1990s I wrote three nonfiction books, one of which, Wordsworth’s Gardens, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards in 2002.

What are you working on next?

The sequel to God’s Thunderbolt. It’s titled Gold Under Ice, and takes Dan back to New York where he gets involved in some heavy-duty gambling in gold futures.

Thank you, Carol. I’ll be looking forward to reading the sequel. Carol’s book can be purchased through Amazon.com. See her website at http://www.swanrange.com/

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