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Monday, May 11, 2009

The birth of a book!

When I first graduated from college, with my brand new teaching certificate in hand, I considered trying to get a job in Alaska. For a long time, even while I was still teaching high school, Alaska intrigued me. I don’t know why and I can’t explain it. Maybe the need to venture into the unknown. I do know when I mentioned Alaska to my dad, he had a fit. It was too far away from home.

Fast forward to retirement. By then I had eight published books under my belt and my husband and I loved to travel. I always tried to research an area, if possible, for my books. So, I gathered my courage and suggested a trip to Alaska. In case you don’t know, there are lots of ways to see the Northwest, because I was also interested in the Yukon. You can fly into a city and stay there, but heck; you don’t get to see much that way. You can take a cruise, but again, you dock at the different cities and get to look at a lot of water. Or you can drive around from place to place, but the distances are great and there are no restaurants or hotels/motels in the wilderness. Or you can rent an RV and take your bedroom and kitchen with you. I think you can guess what I wanted to do.

We cruised into Scagway, rented our first RV and away we went. I figured we could handle an RV with no problem, because when we were raising our four children, we lived close to Lake Erie and you don’t take four children out on a big lake in just a small fishing boat, at least we didn’t. We boated in cabin cruisers spent as much as a week on the water. I knew all about putting away food, dishes, clothing and anything that might fly around while traveling. I figured it wouldn’t be much different.

My husband took the wheel and the adventure began. Cold, (we went in July) wet, it rained all but two days while we traveled, and absolutely so beautiful, words could never do justice to what we saw. A lake so smooth the snow topped mountains were reflected in the surface so perfectly it was hard to tell up from down. Tall mountains covered with snow, even in July. And some of the roads weren’t even paved. The rivers were a surprise. They moved so fast they carried the dirt and dust from the base of the mountains and as a result the water was gray.

As we traveled, I saw a little lake set against the mountains. It was the most beautiful emerald green water I had ever seen. I begged my husband to stop and he took all kinds of pictures for me. Nestled on one side of the lake, against a back drop of tall pines was a log cabin.

And Boom!

A story was born. I spent the next two day jotting down the scenes I saw in my mind. In the few towns we visited I went to the book store (Usually there was only one) and bought as many of books about the area and the people who settled there as they had .

By the time we returned to our retirement home in the south, I had a story. I saw heroine as a big city girl (we’d lived in some very large cities in our married life) and I imagined seeing the Northwest through her eyes. Of course, she had to have a reason for going to the Northwest, and what better reason than to find her father.

In the books I bought I found my hero. The men who went into that territory were often there because they had a very good reason for leaving their Canadian or US homes; a lot of them were on the wrong side of the law. Of course, that wouldn’t do for my hero, so he moved to the Yukon as a punishment. (You’ll have to buy the book to find out why.) And most of those men were special, big, brawny, strong. A perfect hero.

With any book you have to have conflict and I decided my Sara would be a talker. Of course, my hero, called Bear, had to be the opposite. He doesn’t talk much at all.

One other important point. Several years before our trip to the Northwest, a New York editor, who will remain unnamed, told me a long historical romance, with just the hero and heroine and no subplot with additional characters, would never work. What a challenge. And of course, in the Yukon, there is a short summer and a long winter. There would be no way to introduce a lot of other characters or a subplot and keep the story in the wilderness.

I really should thank the editor, because I think and the reviews have indicated that Sara and her story are a delight. No subplot, just Sara and Bear and their life together . I only hope I did Alaska and the Northwest Territory justice. It is beautiful country.

Allison Knight

www.AllisonKnight.com

You can buy “A Treasure For Sara” at www.Champagnebooks.com


**************

Once again she glanced at the growing crowd and looked for her father.
He wasn’t there.

“Time to go. Haven’t got all day,” the giant said.

Go with him? Oh, good heavens! He couldn’t be serious.

“No. Not in a million years,” she hissed, struggling against his hold.
Her attempt to break free had about the same effect as an ant trying to
move one of these huge fur trees she’d seen marching up the mountain slopes.
People always said her father was tall, but this man would tower over Patrick
McGuiness by several inches. Not only was this the tallest man she had ever
seen, but this Mr. Bear resembled a barbarian. His curly, dark hair was pulled
back and tied with a leather strip so that it hung down his back. A wicked-
looking knife hung from a loop on his belt and he grasped a rifle in the hand
not detaining her. Before she could free herself, he started to move. And he
took her with him.

“No! What are you doing?” She jerked against him. He wasn’t going to drag
her away from her father and her dreams.

“You must stop!”

He stopped. She yanked her arm out of his hold and to her side, raised her chin
and straightened her shoulders, standing as tall as she could. She didn’t even
come to his shoulders.

“Sir, I don’t know you. I know nothing about you. And I am certainly not going
anywhere with you.”

“You’re Sara, right? Sara McGuiness?” His deep, husky voice coiled around her
and created all kinds of strange sensations. Another tingle, followed by another
chill. Fear, she decided.

“I don’t know how you know my name, but yes, I’m Sara McGuiness.”

“Your pa’s at my place.”

“At your place? Why isn’t he here?”

“He’ll tell you,” the giant said. “Oh! Best get a few of your things.”
He pointed to the boxes and trunks unloaded onto the boardwalk.

“One minute. I have no intention of gathering some of my things! Besides,
how do I know my father is at your house? Why, I don’t even know your name.”
She glared at him and placed her clenched fists on her hips. There was no way
she would go with this man.

“Just tell me where you live and I’ll find my own way,” she said, trying to put
more confidence into her voice.

He threw his head back and laughed. Obviously, he was nothing but a…a savage.
Like one of the villains in the penny novels she loved.She opened her mouth to
tell him what she thought of his attitude when he sobered.

“Best get some of your things.”

“I’m not taking a step until you tell me why my father didn’t come himself.”

“I said, he’s at my place.”

“Why? I don’t understand. What happened to his house? Why is he with you?”

“Cabin burned down.”

“Cabin? A cabin? I don’t believe you.” Sara squared her shoulders, stiffened
her spine and tried to stare him down. It didn’t work. She wilted. What could
she do now? She’d endured Aunt Anna’s censure and her promise of doom, to travel
miles to be with her father. Now, he wasn’t here. The temptation to scream raced
through her and she bit her lip, hard. She had to think.


4 comments:

lastnerve said...

I love how your story came about and I loved the blog today. The excerpt looked intriguing and I cannot wait to read the book!

Big Mike said...

Actually, Allison, we're pretty close in deriving the backdrop for our stories. I generally use a town or area I lived in (worked for the military so I got around) or I visited. My new novel (Veil of Deception) I co authored with Candace Morehouse was derived from something that happened while I was sitting on my porch at the lake. The impetus for my next novel (haven't started yet) came from a trip to the outer banks of NC. Having a real world backdrop to your story definitely adds to the realism.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year, 2008

Angelica and Zi said...

Allison, we so enjoyed reading how you developed your story right in the midst of its majestic setting. However, we feel you did have a subplot in your book... Alaska was a character and plot all its own. Angelica Hart and Zi

MarthaE said...

Wonderful post! My DH and I want to visit Alaska...maybe a cruise but we would love to take our RV. It just means I'd have to take a couple months off from work to go from Florida to Alaska! It might happen. Your story stounds interesting! MarthaE