BEHIND THE SCENES
This novella came about in a fun way. I had pitched the idea of a three-book series, and Kensington bought the first two books, now titled Home on the Range and Gentle on my Mind. Then, in the spring of 2012, I attended a conference in New York City and took the opportunity to get together with my editor and agent.
As I sat in my editor’s office in Manhattan (how cool is that?), she asked what I’d think about doing a prequel e-novella to launch the series and introduce readers to Caribou Crossing—a western community made for love, adventure, and second chances.
It sounded like a fun idea, my agent agreed, and then ... hmm ... Who might be the characters? What might be the story? My editor, agent, and I brainstormed. How lovely to all be in the same room, tossing ideas around!
Home on the Range is the romance of Jessica Bly Cousins and Evan Kincaid. They were childhood best friends who split up after one disastrous night the summer after twelfth grade—and are reunited after ten years. What could be a prequel to that? Well, I could tell their teen story, but it didn’t have a happy ending! (Or at least, not until ten years later.)
The other principal characters in Home on the Range are Jess’s ex-husband (and he’s my planned hero for book 3; he really is the sweetest guy!), Evan’s mom (who’s the heroine of Gentle on my Mind), and Jess’s parents. Hmm.
Jess’s parents, Miriam and Wade Bly, are “salt of the earth” people with a happy middle-aged marriage. Perhaps Caribou Crossing could be the story of their young romance.
Then the idea struck me. So many romances end with an engagement, wedding, or at least an “I love you” commitment. That’s our happy ending, our “happily ever after.” Except, we all know that really, the marriage isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning. The road is often a rocky one, with lots of challenges, and, sadly, many couples who were once madly in love don’t make it in the long term. Those challenges test the strength of each individual and of their marriage. Their relationship may crack and split apart, or adversity may lead to growth and a strengthening of the bond between them.
What about telling that story? What about, rather than ending with the marriage, I begin with it? Miriam and Wade as young, starry-eyed lovers, anticipating a rosy future. Clear sailing, a smooth road, no bumps. Everything laid out in front of them in a neat, wonderful sequence.
Except . . . They hit an occasional bump in the road and try to weather it, but then they face even tougher challenges. Challenges that change their future, test their internal resources, and threaten to break them apart. Now that was a story I could laugh and cry over, so that was the story I wrote in Caribou Crossing.
Typically, my books cover a short time period and an intense romance. Caribou Crossing is different. It covers an eight-year period, all in the length of one long (35,000 word) novella. So that was a bit of a challenge for me, but it had many benefits—and one of them was that I could include Miriam and Wade’s daughter Jessica and her new friend Evan.
Caribou Crossing ends when Jess and Evan are eight. Home on the Range picks up almost twenty years later. I hope you enjoy both stories.
The Caribou Crossing Series