Making History -- Michael Landon Jr. & Cindy Kelley
For the last sixteen years Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley have been teaming up to tell stories that captivate the heart and transport viewers and fans to another time. Most notably among their success is the 2003 television movie Love Comes Softly, which was written by the pair and directed by Michael. The accomplished duo has managed to thrill fans again with their much-anticipated historical novel, Traces of Mercy (David C. Cook), which picks up a story just as the civil war is coming to an end.
When asked about their long-time collaboration, Cindy shares “I think we’ve gotten to a place where we can use a kind of short hand with each other. There isn’t a lot of time wasted on getting to know each other’s writing style, habits, things like that. If we go weeks or even months between projects, it’s like meeting an old friend again. We just pick up where we left off.” Cindy and Michael typically start with a very detailed outline laid out by Michael. Then Cindy writes the first draft of each scene. After many revisions back and forth, the story begins to emerge.” Between the two of us there is a lot of editing and rewriting,” says Michael.
Over the years, historical stories have become their forte. Michael comments, “While we’ve written several pieces that were set in the 1800’s, we’d never written anything that specifically addressed the time period of the Civil War and the Reconstruction years.” This desire to further explore that era is what led Cindy and Michael to begin researching the time, hunting for a good story. After watching documentaries and doing a lot of reading, the two writers stumbled upon true stories of women who actually fought in the war. Thus, they began to tell a story that held them captive. Both Cindy and Michael agree that period novels allow them to tell a story void of modern distractions like cell phones and social media. According to Cindy, “typically historical novels seem more timeless than contemporary books.” Plus they are both avid history buffs who take great joy in telling fictional stories against the backdrop of fascinating real-life events.
Traces of Mercy follows the story of Mercy who awakens after a terrible accident void of all memories and identity. “The obstacles she faces without any memory of life experience really let us put her in some vulnerable situations,” says Cindy. “Most of us make choices based on previous experiences we’ve had. Mercy has a virtual blank slate. She has a hard time forming opinions about things--especially when the talk turns to war,” Michael comments. “She has a hard time with faith--has no memory if she’s a believer in God. She has no idea where she stands, who she supports, what kind of consequences the war had for her personally.” It is up to Mercy to decide if she will continue to seek answers about her past or pursue the future in front of her. Michael and Cindy hope readers are entertained and enthralled as Mercy’s story begins to unfold before them. “It is definitely Mercy’s journey that is part adventure, part mystery and part romance,” says Michael.
Traces of Mercy released this past October. Stay tuned for the next release in the Mercy Medallion Trilogy titled Finding Mercy, which is set for release in the Fall of 2014.
This article originally ran in the January issue of FamilyFiction. Click here to find out how you can become a subscriber for free!