Our guest blogger this week is once again Angel Brady. Her topic is Silver Springs, the second book in the Meadowlark Trilogy and her own personal story. As usual, Angel has a unique perspective, and she sees the creation of this book somewhat differently than I do. Without further ado, I give you Angel.
I was never meant to be a leading lady. In fact, Carolyn barely gave me any thought at all when I made that first appearance. The hero of Meadowlark was standing at the bar in what appeared to be a saloon, bored, depressed, and contemplating getting drunk. Suddenly there I was, a brassy redhead using sarcastic wit and a cynical attitude to hide my heart of gold.
I’m not the first character to appear already fleshed out, but the others had always been people Carolyn knew: her grandfather, her husband, her sister-in-law. She didn’t know anybody like me. Though she didn’t realize it until years later, I was originally modeled after Miss Kitty from the TV show Gunsmoke. Like Miss Kitty, I ran a business, The Green Garter, though mine was a casino/brothel where hers was a saloon. That’s where Swede first made his appearance in the book. I cheered him up, sent him upstairs with one of my girls and disappeared back to where ever characters go when they aren’t on the page.
I didn’t stay there long, though. Four pages later, Swede returned with the unconscious heroine. Becky was soaking wet and half -drowned so I took her upstairs to my bedroom. And that’s where I began to diverge from Miss Kitty. Her inner sanctum, the few times viewers saw it, was a feminine place of beautiful crystal lamps, thick luxurious rugs, and frilly lace accouterments. Mine was lined with bookshelves full of well-thumbed volumes and furnishings more suited to a genteel home than a notorious brothel.
I was not the only character to arrive unannounced. A couple of pages later Ox Bruford also made an entrance. It was his first walk on appearance, but he had been mentioned in an earlier book. When Carolyn was writing Murphy’s Rainbow, she’d asked her husband to come up with a good name for a mule skinner. He’d thought about it a minute, then said “Ox,” and went back to reading his paper. Carolyn considered the name briefly, decided it worked, and added one of her husband’s nicknames, Bruford. Three books later when she needed a freighter in Meadowlark, Ox Bruford volunteered for the job. When he showed up again several chapters later and stayed for supper, he became a solid secondary character.
Neither of us tried to take over the book, but every time Becky or Garrick were in trouble, it was Ox or I who showed up to bail them out. As Meadowlark progressed, a sort of chemistry began to develop between Ox and I, one that Carolyn took notice of. She jokingly said she thought we were messing around behind her back, something which I have never confirmed nor denied. One of her writer friends told her that was the story she should write. She thought it was a crazy idea. Afterall, how could one write an entire book with a hero named Ox and a heroine of questionable morals?
Then one day, Becky walked in on me as I was getting ready for work. Without the heavy make-up and flashy hair style, I looked years younger, not much older than Becky herself. Obviously, I was not what I seemed at all, and Carolyn’s writerly senses began to tingle. There was indeed a story to tell. Maybe I wasn’t a prostitute who had worked her way up to her own place. My youth as well as my unbrothel-like private quarters, pointed to a different story all together. I am, first and foremost, a business woman running a very profitable casino, and Carolyn wondered if it might be possible to tell the story from that angle.
Silver Springs begins with Ox and I saying good-bye. Our last scene together is a poignant reminder that we will probably never see each other again, and he kisses me for the first time. Without time to prepare, that unexpected kiss rocks my world. Even Ox is taken by surprise for he says, “Good lord, Angel, that felt more like hello than goodbye!” It is not enough to hold us together, though, and I watch him drive away, trying to ignore the breaking of my heart. (Ok, so maybe there is a streak of drama in me after all.) In an effort to distract myself, I turn to the letter Ox has delivered addressed to Angelica Brady, and my hard-bitten casino owner facade falls away.
It turns out I am the daughter of the rich and influential Richard Brady. I also have an identical twin sister. I’m not really sure when Carolyn decided I had one, but it’s no surprise that I do. Carolyn loves twin stories, you see, especially when they switch places. Alexis and I look exactly alike, but our personalities are completely opposite. She takes after our mother, a sweet gentle soul who died when we were born. I, on the other hand, am just like our father, or so everyone keeps telling me. I like to think I have his intelligence and business sense, but none of his pig-headed stubbornness which caused me to run away from home in the first place.
Alexis is the widow of Duncan Smythe, a man old enough to be her grandfather and rich enough to attract Richard Brady’s admiration. Father is the one who arranged the marriage between them. It was supposed to be me, but I ran away and started life on my own to avoid it. To be fair, Alexis enjoyed the life of a pampered young wife as much as I enjoyed my independence. She loves parties, pretty clothes and living life sedately. I’d much rather be running a successful business, solving problems and meeting challenges head on. See what I mean? Opposites!
I don’t want to give away the plot so I will tell you only that Alexis is caught in one of our father’s schemes. With her usual drama, she is convinced all is lost unless I trade places with her and convince Father to stop trying to run her life. I still feel guilty about Duncan, so I reluctantly agree. As with most switched twin stories, there is an unexpected twist, and we get stuck in our masquerade.
Written with the fast-paced action and humor that have become Carolyn’s trademark, Silver Springs has not one but two villains, a dashing hero, outlaws, intrigue, and some great secondary characters in the guise of our three younger siblings. It took some doing on Carolyn’s part, but the villains get their comeuppance and Alexis and I both get our happy ever after with the men of our dreams.