The “My Heart Belongs” series, a geographically-based romance collection featuring titles from several authors, highlights interesting historical locations across the country. Author Rebecca Jepson’s contribution to the series is My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado: Millie’s Resolve (Barbour Books). In this interview, Rebecca explains what makes the setting of her book special, which characters surprised her the most, and the challenges of writing as part of a series with other authors…
What can you tell us about where and when My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado: Millie’s Resolve takes place?
Glenwood Springs was ahead of its time in 1888 when the book begins, especially considering its humble beginnings as a primitive frontier town, when businesses such as dry goods stores, hotels, and saloons were housed in canvas tents. The railroads arrived in 1887, making bumpy, dusty stagecoach travel a thing of the past.
Local residents even enjoyed the marvel of electricity in their own homes. Such modern conveniences joined forces with the town’s “healing” hot springs, encouraging tourism and providing a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs such as John.
Can you tell us about the characters? Who surprised you the most when writing the novel?
I think of Millie as brave, feminine, and determined. Having come from an underprivileged background, she highly values the training she received from Dr. Murphy, and is passionate about using her nursing skills for good. She struggles with confidence in herself as a woman and often compares herself unfavorably to women of good breeding.
John takes his responsibility as the firstborn son of a prominent Philadelphia family seriously. No matter the cost, he makes sure they never suffer need, which makes him unyielding at times. He is self-assured in the business world, but shy around women.
Being the opposite of a free spirit, I always plan ahead by detailing my characters’ personalities before I start writing my books. If I were the reader, I would probably be most surprised by Katherine and Stephen, but in order to avoid spoilers, I think I’d better not say why.
What kind of research did you need to do for this? Did anything surprising come out of your research?
I surfed a lot of websites, read a lot of books, and best of all, visited Glenwood Springs. No amount of bookish research could take the place of seeing it all with my own eyes, of gazing in wonder at Glenwood Canyon, “carved between sheer cliffs.” Also, with themes such as nursing, asthma, and complications during childbirth, I did a lot of online medical research.
It was the “little things” that surprised me while I was researching, like learning of the existence of a town scavenger who was paid to pick up garbage, or the fact that the streets had to be sprinkled regularly to keep the dust from getting out of control. Another fun fact was that it took five minutes for a thermometer to read a person’s temperature.
What role does faith play in Millie’s Resolve?
Faith comes into play most strongly in Millie, who feels called to become Katherine’s nurse, but wavers when she finds her new role—not to mention her close proximity to the woman’s two sons—difficult. The theme is trusting God in the midst of life’s storms. Millie latches onto the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” often recalling the line, I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
What are the challenges of writing a novel that’s part of this kind of multi-author series? Did it affect how you approached writing the story?
Reading the previous books in the series did influence the way I wrote, particularly when it came to emphasizing the setting. Since the series is setting-based, I wanted to bring out that aspect of the story without overshadowing the plot or character development.
I found it helpful to see how the other authors handled this challenge. More than anything, I felt honored to be included in such an accomplished group of writers!
Visit Rebecca Jepson’s author page:
My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado: Millie’s Resolve
My Heart Belongs series