Please join me today in welcoming Peggy L. Henderson, author of the Yellowstone Romance Series, and we're here to talk about the first book in her new Teton Romance Trilogy. Welcome Peggy!
Evelyn Lewis' secret dream of marrying her brother’s best friend is shattered when he leaves their home town to seek his fortune elsewhere. For six long years, she’s waited and wondered if he would return. After the shocking murder of her parents, her brother is the only family she has left. Refusing to accept a betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, she decides to take control of her destiny and confront her parents’ killer.
Growing up, Alexander Walker has known only violence at the hands of his cruel father. After the death of his mother, he embarks on a journey into the uncharted wilderness to test his resolve as a fur trapper and mountain man. When an impulsive decision leads him back to his childhood home, he finds more than he bargained for.
Amid the rugged Teton wilderness, fate suddenly throws Alex and Evelyn together. The quiet protective boy she remembers is now as strange to her as the world she’s been forced into. Wary of the hardened man he has become, Evelyn must put her trust in him in order to survive. Alex’s memories of Evelyn are of a pesky little girl, but he can’t deny his growing feelings for the beautiful and spirited woman she is now. His biggest obstacle in winning her heart may not be her uncertainty of him, but a fear that has haunted him all his life. In a primitive and brutal world, can Alex and Evelyn forge a love as solid as the mountains, or will the past come back to haunt them both?
An Interview with Peggy Henderson
Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?
Writing just sort of happened to me. I’ve always been a fan of historical romances set in America, and western romance. I’ve been fascinated with the mountain men and fur trappers, and their history in the Rocky Mountains. When the story idea for my first book, Yellowstone Heart Song, came to mind, I searched for similar books as the one that was in my mind, but everything I found fell short. So, I finally decided to write the story myself.
What is your favorite non-writing pastime?
I love to go hiking and camping with my family. I love to read (which I hardly have time for anymore), and I just hang out with my two ponies.
When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author?
After I wrote the fourth book in my Yellowstone Romance Series, my critique partner told me to stop writing if I wasn’t going to publish something. January 1, 2012, I took the plunge into self-publishing.
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?
My greatest challenge is time, and the lack of it. With a full time career, and a family, my time is stretched very thin.
Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?
I would love to make writing my full-time career. I’m hoping it will happen someday. Until then, my work days, or rather nights, are spent as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist.
If you had to sum up Teton Sunrise in 30 or less words, what would you say?
Teton Sunrise is a grittier romance than Yellowstone Heart Song. While it is still a feel-good romance, in order to more accurately portray the era of the fur trapper, the characters had to be more hardened due to their upbringing and environment.
What inspired the idea behind your book?
The Teton Trilogy came about as a spin-off sort of, of the Yellowstone Romance Series. I was in the Tetons last summer when the idea for this trilogy struck me.
What has been your greatest challenge in writing Teton Sunrise?
This book is the first in a trilogy and closely related to the Yellowstone Series. My greatest challenge was to make this trilogy NOT like the Yellowstone books. My hero, Alex Walker, had to be completely different from my hero, Daniel Osborne, and that was a challenge.
What is your favorite scene in Teton Sunrise?
My favorite scene is when Alex Walker chases after the Indians who abducted his wife, Evelyn, and he loses control of his horse. My critique partner said to me that this makes the hero seem weak. He’s an experienced rider, he shouldn’t lose control of his horse. First of all, I am an experienced rider, and anyone who is will tell you that it’s very possible to lose control of your horse. Second, I took that scene right out of the pages of the history books. This exact scenario happened to famous mountain man Joe Meeks.
Which character in Teton Sunrise will be the most difficult to part with?
Laurent Berard. Although he came across as gruff at first, he is such a likable and kind-hearted character, but he had to go at the end.
What kind of research was involved for Teton Sunrise?
A lot of my research was on location, if it’s even called research. Hiking in Grand Teton National Park gave me the feel for the location. I spent a lot of time reading books on mountain men and fur trappers, and while my books “romanticize” them, these men were the toughest of the tough.
Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?
Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
Of all the books I’ve written, Yellowstone Redemption (Book 2 in the Yellowstone Romance Series) is hands-down my favorite book to date.
What kind of research was involved for the series? Did you find it became easier with each book?
The research for the Yellowstone Romance Series and the Teton Romance Trilogy was pretty much the same, and I didn’t need to research a whole lot, because I was very familiar already with most of my subject material. For my Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, I’m having to do a lot of research because the setting in each book is different.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
My current plans involve writing the final book in the Teton Romance Trilogy, titled Teton Sunset, and the second in the Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series. I also have readers asking for more books in the Yellowstone Romance Series. While I do not plan to write any more full-length novels in the series, since it is complete, I have a few novellas in mind.
What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author?
My greatest pleasure is interacting with my readers. And I have so many tell me that, after reading the Yellowstone books, they now want to go visit Yellowstone. It thrills me to hear that.
Did you have a favorite character or hero as a child? Do you have a literary hero as an adult?
My favorite character(s) when I grew up were Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. They were larger-than-life characters from a German author, Karl May, who wrote westerns (sort of an equivalent of Louis L’Amor). Those books got me hooked on “the west”, and growing up in Germany, the American west was just fascinating.
What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?
The one book I wish someone else would have written is the one I ended up writing - Yellowstone Heart Song.
Do you write your friends or family members into your books? If so, did they figure it out?
I modeled my best friend after my heroine, Aimee Donovan in Yellowstone Heart Song. Whether she figured it out or not, she hasn’t said.
What is your greatest weakness as a writer? Your greatest strength?
My greatest weakness is writing dialogue and action scenes. My greatest strength is narrative.
Why did you choose to be an Indie writer and would you choose to self-publish again?
I love the freedom of being an indie writer. I like having control of my own story.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
“Find a critique partner”
Does where you live or have places you’ve been influenced your work?
I don’t live anywhere near there, but Yellowstone is certainly the greatest influence on my books.
How long did it take to get this book from idea to being published? What was the most grueling process?
Two years. The most grueling process was rewriting the entire book.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote a full-length novel in seventh grade about a racehorse that came from outer space. It will never see the light of day.
Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen/pencil for writing?
Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you?
Yes, and it happens all the time, usually around 2/3rds of the way into the book I’m working on.
Is there a book you’ve ever read more than five times? Which book and what drew you back to it? Dorothy Garlock’s River of Tomorrow. Loved the romance and the characters. (I named my first hero Daniel because that was the name of the hero in that book)
Have you ever literally deleted or thrown away a book you’ve written?
No, but I’ve come real close several times.
Best Christmas present?
A clock my husband made me using wood from Yellowstone
Wabash River Trilogy
Wag more, bark less
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Meet the Author
I never thought I'd be a writer, much less publish a book some day. I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I guess life just had other plans for me. When my husband and I decided to start a family, vet school pretty much went out the window. I used to work with a vet who had three children while going through vet school. To this day, she is my hero.
I live with my husband and two teenage sons in southern California. I have a Welsh pony and a miniature horse (down-sized from a barn of six horses). A crazy Labrador retriever who is a food vacuum, three cats, a Holland Lop bunny, two parakeets, three bearded dragons (my compromise with my sons when they wanted a snake), and a small flock of chickens complete our menagerie of critters. I can’t imagine my life without my animals. My dream is to live in Montana some day.
Three years ago, I began writing a story that, for whatever reason, was stuck in my head for almost a year. I have been an avid romance reader for a long time, and the idea took hold to - why not? - write my own! What a simple idea, right?
It has been a long and difficult journey from my first sentence to a completed, and hopefully polished, manuscript. Today, I have a completed series of 5 books and a novella in what I called The Yellowstone Romance Series, a first book in my new Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and I am currently working on a trilogy set in the Grand Tetons.
Enjoy an Excerpt
“Where are you going?” Laurent shouted, running at him, his eyes wide.
Alex circled his excited mount. The animal’s muscles bunched up underneath him while it pranced in place, as if sensing Alex’s urgency.
“To get my wife back,” Alex retorted between clenched teeth.
“Don’t be a fool. Wait for us to come with you,” Laurent implored frantically. “It is suicide to give chase by yourself.”
“They’ll kill her, and you know it. I don’t have time to waste.” Alex glared at Laurent, who had no response. He eased up on the reins and kneed his horse in the sides. The gelding sprang forward. Alex raced his mount toward the creek, and the animal plunged through the water, sending up jets of cold spray. He gave his horse its head and leaned low over its neck, racing in the direction the warrior had taken. His heart pounded fiercely in tune with his horse’s hoof beats. Visions of the terrified look in Evie’s eyes as the warrior slung her over his shoulder spurred him on.
The setting sun cast a golden glow in the western horizon, the last of the light disappearing quickly behind the mountains. It would be completely dark soon. Alex pressed his thighs against his gelding’s sides, urging the horse to go faster. If he lost the trail in the impending darkness, he’d never get Evie back alive. Clenching his jaw as the cool evening air whipped around his face, Alex was well aware of the fate a white captive encountered among the Blackfoot. No man had ever escaped with his life. The Blackfoot enjoyed toying with and slowly torturing their captives. What would they do to a white woman?
Blinding fury tore through his heart. Had it really only been minutes since he told Evie that she was better off in St. Louis so she’d be safe from him? If he hadn’t walked away from her by the creek, her life wouldn’t be in danger at this very second. Alex growled in frustration.
The trail the Indians left behind cut through a small swath of forest, only to return to more open terrain of sagebrush and willow. The freshly trampled grasses made for an easy trail to follow.
The fresh tracks once again entered a section of forest that wasn’t very dense, but would certainly hinder his pursuit. Alex pulled back on his horse’s reins to slow his mount’s speed. The animal beneath him apparently had other ideas. The horse grabbed hold of the bit, and tossed its head forward, refusing to alter its pace. Racing amongst the trees, the gelding leapt over downed logs as if it’s hooves had taken on wings. All Alex could do was grab hold of the animal’s mane and guide its head in the right direction.
When the forest opened up to another clearing, excited shouts ahead alerted him that he had caught up with his enemies. In the dim light, he saw six riders stopped at the far end of the clearing, their horses dancing nervously beneath them. One horse carried two riders, one of whom was struggling wildly. He spotted the warrior who had taunted him earlier, the white stripe of warpaint across his face distinguishing his from the others. Alex didn’t hesitate. Images of the man striking Evie merged with images of his father hitting his mother. He pointed his rifle between his mount’s ears, then took aim and fired.
A shot rang out, and the warrior dropped from his horse. Loud war cries hung in the air. Alex yanked his tomahawk from his belt. His horse galloped wildly toward the small group, its ears pinned back as if it knew what the stakes were. Alex fumbled with the flapping reins, and by the time he regained control of his charging mount, his horse had reached the raiding party. Among loud whoops and surprised hollers from the Indians, Evelyn’s high-pitched voice screamed his name. The sound of her pleas drove him into the midst of the group of warriors.
“No one steals Shadow Walker’s woman,” he roared in the language of the Blackfoot. He raised his ax, and charged among the startled Indians, close to another rider. He swung his arm back and to the side, and knocked the warrior from his horse with a well-aimed blow to the man’s abdomen. Quickly, he yanked his horse’s neck around, and kicked the gelding forward. The smell of blood and sweaty horses hung in the air. Again, he raised his tomahawk, ready for an attack. Gunshots rang out behind him, and Alex recognized Laurent’s whoops and hollers. Three of the four remaining wide-eyed Blackfeet wheeled their horses away from him and kicked their mounts into a run. The final warrior dropped Evelyn to the ground just before his horse bolted forward in pursuit of his kinsmen.