Ever since I started writing seriously in 1987, I have written my way through everything life has thrown at me including the deaths of three parents and multiple friends, the birth of a child, four major surgeries, and two trying bosses. Out of all that, only one trauma was so great it took an entire book to get me through it.
In 1985 my husband and I adopted two brothers, four and five years old with severe emotional and behavior issues. Though we didn’t know it at the time the experts only expected us to last three years at most. Long story short, as with many adoptions of older children, it didn’t work out. After ten years with us they went back into the foster care system by choice. They weren’t our only children, but it didn’t matter, I was as devastated as if my sons had died.
I began Wild Honey while I was still grieving for my lost sons as a kind of healing therapy. Alaina, the baby from the book Meadowlark, was also raised by a man who was not her natural father. When she discovers this, she rejects him and goes in search of her “real” father, much as my own sons had done. I knew it would end with her realizing the man who raised her was the father of her heart, and that blood didn’t matter. It was the secret wish I held in my own heart for a very long time.
As I wrote, the story unfolded in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It became less about Alaina’s parentage and more about Alaina herself. When I created her natural father, Cameron Price, in Meadowlark I had been playing around with the idea that many of our heroes would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper Active Disorder, or ADHD. It was a trait Cameron, who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor at the ripe old age of twenty-one, had passed on to his daughter along with his stunning good looks. Both her ADHD and her beauty drove the hero of the story to distraction trying to keep her out of trouble.
By the end, she did come to realize that her real father was the man she called Papa, not Cameron Price, and many of my own demons had been laid to rest.
As for my own story? I don’t think either of my sons have ever really thought of us as their true parents, but they did drift in and out of our lives for a while. Though neither of them stayed, their wives and children did. As a result, I have four grandchildren and one great grandchild in addition to my other grandchildren. They don’t share my blood, but they are as precious to me as the rest. I guess you could say my secret desire did come true after all.
Now that you know the true-life inspiration behind “Wild Honey,” I’ll turn it over to Alaina Ellinson so she can tell you her story herself.
I’ve lived in Nerstrand, Minnesota almost all my life. I wasn’t born here, but Mama and I came home with Papa before I was even a year old, so I don’t remember living anywhere else. Mama never really had a home or much family to speak of, but Papa’s family is HUGE; we’re related to almost everyone in town. She loves living here , and I do too…mostly.
The thing is, I’m different than most folks here. Everyone is perfectly happy staying here where they’ve always lived, doing what they’ve always done. I want to go new places and see new things. I yearn for adventure! I get restless sometimes and wind up being a little impetuous, which often gets me in trouble. That’s why when my God Mother Angel suggested I come to Wyoming for a visit, I jumped at the chance. The Wild West, it just doesn’t get any more exciting than that!
I was a little less enthusiastic about who she sent me for an escort; her younger brother Jared. You might remember him from the book Silver Springs. Mama pointed out I’d only met him once a long time ago and should give him a chance even if he had tied my pigtails to a doorknob. Papa advised me to hold my tongue lest Mama change her mind about letting me go to Wyoming.
As it turned out, Jared Brady was the least of my worries. The night before I left. I discovered that my entire life was a lie! I was shattered, betrayed by the two people I loved most in the world. My mother had kept a secret from me, and she acted badly when I accidentally uncovered the truth. We had such a terrible fight that when Jared arrived, I was almost surprised Mama let me go. I’m fairly certain that was Papa’s doing. She wasn’t best pleased with him; I could tell.
I felt badly about the way I left with things still unsettled with my parents. I was a little homesick at first, too, but all that soon passed, and I began to enjoy my first real adventure. Jared and I even got along amazingly well until we got to Omaha. That’s were we met Susan Prescott, Jared’s hoity-toity fiancée. What a vile wretch she turned out to be! I never did a thing to her, but she took an instant dislike to me and spent the entire trip to Laramie City belittling me. Jared, meanwhile, decided to be my watch dog on the train, snarling at anyone who got too close. I was thoroughly sick of them both by the time we got to Ox and Angel’s.
Once we arrived, though, I discovered Angel knew my mother’s secret and even let slip where I could go to find out the truth of it: Fort Bridger. I was in the process of buying a train ticket when Mr. High and Mighty Brady stopped me. Jared told the railroad clerk a real whopper of a lie, and the man refused to sell me my ticket.
Early the next morning while everyone was asleep, I sneaked out of the house, rented a horse from the livery stable and headed over the mountain. I planned to make my way to Saratoga where I could purchase a train ticket to Fort Bridger. In hindsight, I should have stopped to think about what I was doing. However, as I told you, I’m a bit impetuous and it seemed like a grand escapade as well as a way to thumb my nose at Jared’s high-handedness.
Jared came after me, of course, which actually turned out to be a good thing. I’d have been up to my neck in trouble without him. As it was, we wound up running for our lives, hiding from an army of renegades who chased us all over the mountain. It was too much adventure even for me. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but just wait until you see what we found hidden under a tree! Wild Honey is a rollicking good read and a great ending for the Meadowlark Trilogy. I hope you’ll join me there soon.