January 25, 2014

Where Stavewood Began

      If you have not read the Stavewood books then I must warn you that this posting will contain bits about the story. So here I insert *Spoiler Alert*. Just warning you.
      One day a story came to mind. It was the story of Timothy Elgerson. I knew him, how he looked, how he behaved and his background. Another time I wrote a story about a mail order bride.  The concept was always fascinating to me. Where is a woman in her life that she will set everything aside for something new? For love? I always treasured stories about settlers and pioneers. Stories like Giants in the Earth and The Emigrant novels. Most of what I read was about Scandinavian settlers, but not all. I read about pioneer women and I read about love. Whether or not we admit it I think finding someone who understands us is almost as important as finding food and rest and shelter. Timothy and Rebecca are characters who cannot deny that need in themselves, even if they try. One day they came together in my mind.
      "What is Stavewood?" is the most common question I hear about the book. Stavewood is actually the name of a tall pine very suitable for building barrels. A wood that holds things. I think love is that way. It remembers and clings and when your heart is full, like a barrel, the wood expands and grows stronger.
      The second most common question is, "Do you know that Timothy fellow in the book?" I can't help but smile when I am asked that. No, I do not physically know Timothy Elgerson. He does however live in my heart and my imagination. I never imagined when I wrote the book that one day someone would face me and talk to me about the characters as if they were real people. In my mind they are, but that's in my mind. The first time someone asked about Timothy I knew he was set free somehow. Now Timothy and Rebecca weren't just in my mind, now they were real to someone else. And every person I speak to sees them a little differently. To some Rebecca is too fragile. To others she is young and determined. Now they don't belong just to me, they belong to my readers. It's fascinating, and something I never expected to happen. At first it was so strange and then it became wonderful. It is what makes my readers magical and special to me. They know my characters now too. Even more fantastic is when they relate to them.
      When I write, I have a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Then I start typing and it comes alive. I am still learning all the time how that process happens. My husband asked me if I had Stavewood, the property, in three dimensions in my mind. I did and that is how the map of Stavewood came alive in the second book. I told him what I saw and he delightfully drew it out. He is also the one to thank for the wonderful character of Mark. Mark started out as a vehicle in the story.  Timothy needed a reason to order a bride. With a child he needed a mother. When my husband was taken with Mark I saw him in a different way. He became more than a vehicle and is one of my favorite characters and one of the most popular. No, I don't know him either.
      I learned from Mark too. I learned as a writer how to take a beloved child character, bring him up into a young man and then <gasp> make him sexy as well. It took a lot of thought. I had help there from Colleen. When you see him on the barn floor through her eyes he is no longer a child.
      The third most common question I hear is "Will there be a fourth book to Stavewood". To this I am asking, what do you think?
      In the next post I will talk a bit more about the characters of Stavewood and who they are. Thank you for reading. Really, thank you.

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