I was asked once why I set My Dear One on a ranch in Texas, instead of in BC like the ranch that inspired the partial setting of the book. My answer was simple: My Dear One isn’t a fictionalized memoir. It’s its own story, created from the characters, not from my childhood memories. Though, as I admit in my bio, joyful childhood memories did inspire the ranch setting. As did my mom’s real-life story.
A pregnant and unmarried heroine forced to travel by ship, in mom’s case a BC Ferry, to another city to hide her condition from those closest to her (mainly the dad) who ends up falling in love with a man raised on a cattle ranch. That’s where the similarities end, and Dianna and Jake’s love story begins. And like any couple, they deserve their own history, good or bad.
It’s a tough balance as a writer to do as recommended, and ‘write what you know’. Especially when that advice is balanced against the second, opposing recommendation writers receive: ‘don’t write what you know—write what’s interesting!’. And: historically, legally, politically accurate, unless you’re writing science-fic/fantasy and then you can make up whatever you darn well please’.
What this translates to, for me, is: Draw inspiration from personal experience or knowledge, then research and develop a story that excites, and interests you. So, I did.
I’ve always been fascinated by the story of the Titanic. My step-grandmother’s history related to the doomed ship only exacerbated that interest, and left no question in my mind as to what ‘ship’ my heroine would sail on. The fact it sank, and majority of men died, made it that much easier, as I didn’t need to figure out how to rid Dianna of her benefactor, so she’d end up in Jake’s world. I simply had Mr. Stewart go down with the ship and the other seven-hundred-plus souls lost in the tragedy.
It may seem odd for a Romance writer to be interested in all things war, but I am. Maybe it was all the M*A*S*H episodes I watched as a child (I had such a HUGE crush on Hawkeye), or being made to watch The Western Front in school that piqued my interest. I don’t know. But I do know I’ve watched almost every war movie put out, and never romanticized a one. Rather, for me, it’s about honoring the people who sacrificed so much, to protect the rights of so many. The courage, and inner strength it took then—and for those still serving, takes now—to keep going in the absolute worst conditions, of all but guaranteed death. Remarkable. Heart-breaking.
What else can you call someone who lays their life on the line in service to others, but Beautiful?
War is not beautiful. It’s ugly. Horrific. And often unnecessary. But in some instances, it’s absolutely necessary. And that is when the best, and most beautiful among us, rise to answer the call to battle. Not just the soldiers. Civilians. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, legal, administrative, and clerical staff, volunteers… So many people who lose sleep, and see and hear things that will haunt them for as long as they live, joining together to support—and save—those fighting—and dying—on the front lines.
This weekend, Canada and the US celebrate separate, yet common victories: Democratic, Self-Governing Rule. Otherwise defined as: Freedom.
Freedom is not a gift: it’s a right. That comes at a high price.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a free and democratic society, please, take a moment this weekend to appreciate it, and to think of those who helped you get where you are, who continue to ensure your rights and person are safe. And if you can, please also spare a thought—and prayer—for those who seek to enjoy what we do: Freedom, Tolerance, Acceptance, and Democratic Self-Governance.
And to you beautiful people on the front lines, in the court rooms, and on the street with placards and conjoined voices fighting the good fight to protect our right to continue to live as we do, and to welcome those seeking similar safety, security, and opportunity: Thank You. Thank you. Thank you.
History will remember you well.
If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one. ~Albert Camus