Anyone who loves historical stories knows Little House on the Prairie and anyone
who watched the charming show knows Michael Landon. He was the dad we all
wanted—kind but rugged, caring but tough. What historical fans may not know is
that his son, Michael Landon Jr. is an accomplished writer and filmmaker in his
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.
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.
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
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.
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!