About the book:
A new identity may protect her family—but can it protect her heart?
After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But she can find no rest from the ghosts of the past and flees to Cheyenne to put the pieces of her life back together.
Wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry must make a sensible match if he is to be elected senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming. He needs someone with connections. Someone without a past. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.
Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?
And now, behind the book:
“Write what you know.” I don’t think there’s a writer alive who hasn’t heard that advice. It’s good advice – no doubt about that – but it isn’t the answer for every writer or every book. Sometimes it’s important to go beyond your comfort zone and write about what you don’t know. That’s what I did in Waiting for Spring.
I’ve always been intrigued by family dynamics, which is one of the reasons the heroines of the three Westward Winds books are sisters. Each of them, because of her birth order and her individual personality, views the world differently. Abigail, the heroine of Summer of Promise, and With Autumn’s Return’s Elizabeth were relatively easy to write, since they’re single professional women.
Even though I’ve been married for many years, I could identify with them. Charlotte was a different story. As Waiting for Spring begins, Charlotte is a young widow with a child. I’ve never been widowed, and I have no children. So why on earth did I choose to write about Charlotte? The answer is simple: I wanted to know what her life was like. I was writing not about something that I knew, but about something that intrigued me, something I wanted to learn more about.
I started asking myself questions and then searching for answers. We all know that some women have the strong maternal instincts we associate with mama grizzlies, while others neglect or even abuse their children. Why are they so different? And what makes a good mother? I had to create my own definition before I could proceed.
You won’t be surprised that Charlotte is one of the good mothers, the ones who’d do anything to protect their children. If I left her at that, the story wouldn’t be interesting, and I wouldn’t have learned too much. So, I complicated the situation. Not only did I make Charlotte a single mother, but I made her the single mother of a special needs child in an era when those children were routinely sent to live in an asylum.
I considered a number of different disabilities and did a lot of research (much of it heart-wrenching, I might add) into mental disabilities before I finally decided that Charlotte’s son David would be blind. One of the reasons I ultimately chose blindness was that I knew something about it. Yes, I was listening to those mentors who told me to write what I knew, although I was still stepping out of my comfort zone.
My maternal grandmother, whose glaucoma resulted in blindness when she was in her seventies, lived with my family for four years when I was a child. Seeing how Grandma reacted to her changed circumstances made an indelible impression on me, but of course life would have been very different for David, who was blind from birth. More research was required. I needed to learn how quickly blind children progressed, how their childhood milestones varied from children who were not visually impaired. I needed to learn how blind children would have been taught in the late nineteenth century. And, most of all, I needed to put myself into Charlotte’s shoes, feeling the pain that mingled with her love for her son.
Poor Charlotte. Her life wasn’t easy. As if being widowed and dealing with David’s blindness weren’t bad enough, she’s being pursued by an evil man, one who’ll do anything – even harming her son – to find the money he believes she has. How will she keep David safe at the same time that she supports them both?
I had to delve deep inside myself to learn the answers to those questions. There were times when I shuddered, other times when I cried, and still others when I laughed as I created Charlotte and her life. The process wasn’t always easy, but the result was that I see the world – and ‘see’ is a deliberate word choice – differently than I did before I wrote Waiting for Spring.
So I say to those writers who are reading this, consider writing about what you don’t know. The rewards may surprise you.
Amen, Amanda! As a writer of historical fiction who has never lived on a farm, I often say, "write what you would like to know about, because you can always research."