Q&A: Maggie Brendan
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WHEN WRITING TWICE PROMISED?
Upper most in my mind was a desire to entertain my reader with a lighter storyline than the first book in the series, Deeply Devoted. I wanted to convey how my character, Greta, overcame grief then moved forward to have a satisfying, happy life. When hit by a tragedy or loss—eventually we are forced to face the future if we are to become active, productive individuals. Otherwise we will wallow in despair.
The other thing I wanted to express was the total lack of communication between the couples in Twice Promised. All individuals desire to be loved and intimate by another and marriage is a way that we can achieve that. I believe that is something we all can improve upon as illustrated in Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages.
THE SETTING FOR THIS BOOK IS 1888 AMERICA. WHAT ABOUT THIS HISTORICAL PERIOD AND SETTING PIQUED YOUR INTEREST?
I simply am in love with the West and everything western though I’m a Southern gal living in Georgia. This time period is such an interesting era to me because of its rich heritage of history and how it has impacted America. Mail order brides were a huge part of settling the West and their impact on the frontier cannot be underestimated. Because of their influence, churches were built and schools and libraries were eventually established. Though they were the gentler sex, many times mail order brides worked with their spouses in the fields, planting crops or working alongside them in the mercantile stores and their place of business, then tended to their children to keep hearth and home a welcoming place.
DID YOU DO ANY SPECIAL RESEARCH FOR THIS NOVEL? HOW FAMILIAR WERE YOU WITH THIS TIME PERIOD BEFORE YOU WROTE THE BOOK?
My first series took place in the mid-1880’s so I already had knowledge of the time-frame and the locale from the years that I lived in Colorado. Although it was not my first time to Wyoming, I wanted to experience the setting of Wyoming and Colorado first-hand again before I started The Blue Willow Brides series. In Twice Promised, which takes place in Central City, Colorado, I relied on my many visits to the city. It’s a delightful town, just 35 miles west of Denver, which many times, was shut-off from the rest of the world during heavy winter snowstorms. Traveling by train became very difficult, depending on the weather. Much has changed there since I lived in Colorado with casinos flourishing in Central City and surrounding mountain towns. But its history and mystic are still present there today, and continually draw me.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE BETWEEN HISTORICAL ACCURACY AND TAKING DRAMATIC LICENSE?
Most often when I’ve read about an event or historical individual, I will develop a character loosely based on that person or events to suit my need. If and when I do that, I always clarify that I took poetic license in my author notes, so there is no confusion. Of course, if I used the real person’s name, I verify that they were alive at the time and also add that to my author notes. A huge amount of my time is spent on historical accuracy, but at the same time, realize that some details can’t always be verified. For example, Major John Andrews, who was the commander at Ft. Bridger at the time, writes a letter to Jess, the hero in my story. Major Andrews was a historic figure at the time but I took liberty in having him write the letter, but added that in my notes.
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS OF THAT ERA THAT REMAIN RELEVANT TO READERS TODAY?
I’d say that one thing that is relevant today is that society then and now is separated by class. Middle-class society wasn’t really around until the 1900’s. Mainly society was composed of two classes—hard working people in good standing in the community and the wealthy, who became rich from gold mines or brought their wealth with them from back East to settle there. Jess, my hero, worked hard at his mercantile store and was well thought of in town, which was comprised of hard-working miners and farmers, and of course the upper class citizens. People of the West were strong individuals who worked hard and struggled against many obstacles to better themselves, and mail order brides like Greta, my heroine, are a great part of our frontier. Opportunity was wide open to anyone with an entrepreneurial idea to start and business and become successful. With a lot of hard work and persistence, that’s still true today.