by Peggy L Henderson
If you've been to Yellowstone National Park, there's a huge chance you loved it. With Peggy L Henderson, it was definitely love at first sight, and now we're treated to a whole series set there. Peggy, tell us what started you on this writing journey.
PLH: I never expected to write a novel, much less publish it one day, or write an entire series. I am a medical laboratory technologist by night, and a mother, wife, and now, writer, by day. My family and I live in southern California with too many animals to mention. I may live in the city, but I’m a country girl at heart. I am an avid dressage enthusiast, and because when in Rome, do like the Romans, I like to go hiking with my husband.
I love reading romance novels, especially early American historicals and westerns. I used to devour books at the rate of about one every day or every other day. When the basic story idea for Yellowstone Heart Song popped into my head, I didn’t think, “wow you’ve got to write this.” I was thinking more, “I wish someone would write a story like this.” I searched for romances about mountain men in the Rockies, and nothing came close to what was in my head. A year later, I finally thought I’d write this story down that had been in my mind for so long. I never thought to publish it, but after I found a critique partner, she urged me to get this story published. So that’s where I am today.
RTW: I'm so glad you did, Peggy! No please tell us a little about about your book.
PLH: Aimee Donovan is offered the opportunity to travel two hundred years into the past to the Yellowstone wilderness at the dawn of the mountain man era. Trapper Daniel Osborne’s first instinct is to protect this mysterious and unconventional woman from the harsh realities of his mountains. While he fights his growing attraction to her, he is left frustrated by her lies and secrecy.
Daniel shows Aimee a side of Yellowstone she’s never experienced. She is torn between her feelings for him, and exposing a secret that will destroy everything he holds as truth. Will she stay with him, or return to the comforts of the future?
RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Yellowstone Heart Song?
PLH: I’ve always been intrigued by the old west, the Cowboys and Indians, the scouts, and frontiersman. When I think of the “west,” I don’t so much think of cowboys riding the range. It’s wagon trains, and men scouting out the mountains that screams “western” to me.
I actually lived in Germany for the first 12 years of my life, and everything American was just a big thing to us back then. When my family moved to the US, I saw my first western movie where the actors spoke English! What?! I thought they all talked German.
My best friend and I didn’t play with Barbie dolls. We played with our little cowboy and Indian figures, making up great adventures of red men and white men as friends, working against an evil gang of outlaws. Probably most of that stems from the “western” books I grew up with. A German author by the name of Karl May wrote volumes upon volumes of adventure novels about the American west, with larger than life heroes. He didn’t write about cowboys, though. His characters were scouts and mountain men, and Indians. Old Shatterhand, the man who came to the west as a “greenhorn” fresh from Europe, and became an overnight legend as scout and frontiersman, along with his Apache blood-brother Winnetou, and his Mountain man/scout sidekick Sam Hawkens, kept us turning the pages and glued to the T.V. Other heroes had names like Old Firehand, and Old Surehand.
The one thing I always remember about Old Shatterhand – he dressed in buckskins. I think that’s where my fascination with the mountain man must have originally come from.
One thing that is amazing about these books and the author: he writes about the American west with such vivid description, it puts the reader into the stories. However, he himself had never been to America when he wrote the books (1890’s).
In my late teens, I discovered Yellowstone National Park, and I was hooked. I learned about its history, and I learned about the mountain man and fur trapper. So, when the basic story idea for Yellowstone Heart Song came to me, I could think of no other setting than Yellowstone, and no other hero than a man who carved out his living in the Yellowstone Wilderness of the past.
RTW: If you lived in 1810, what would you visit first? Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your research sources?
PLH: Absolutely I would want to visit the Yellowstone area, and see what it looked like back then, before it became a national park. It would have been quite scary, though. The closest white civilization would have been over 1,000 miles away. I would love to have seen the landscape as it was back then, since I had to make an “educated guess” in my books. Something else that was hard to find while researching – the Sheepeater Indians that inhabited the area in the 1800s. Not a whole lot is known about this “lost” civilization, and it would have been interesting to see for myself if the scant historical accounts are correct. But then I would have hopped back in my time machine and come home to the present. I definitely need my modern conveniences.
RTW: Me, too! And now we'd like you to set the scene for your excerpt.
PLH: This is the scene where the heroine, Aimee Donovan, gets her first real look at the hero, Daniel Osborne.
Excerpt from Yellowstone Heart Song
by Peggy L Henderson
Aimee stirred and slowly opened her eyes. One of her rescuers sat a short distance away, staring at her intently. She pulled herself to a sitting position, wincing at the throbbing pain in her ankle.
“Good morning,” she yawned, rubbing the temples of her pounding head. She glanced up as he walked towards her. She drew in a sharp breath. With her first clear look at his face, it became obvious that this man was not an Indian. It was easy to make that mistake in the dark of night. Although white, he could almost pass for an Indian.
Her eyes poured over his clothing and appearance. He wore a dark-colored breechcloth and leather leggings with fringes on the sides. His faded red flannel shirt had been poorly patched in a few places. Several leather pouches were draped around his neck, and over one broad shoulder dangled a powderhorn made from the horn of a mountain sheep. On the belt around his waist hung a tomahawk and large hunting knife. He wore un-decorated leather moccasins. His raven black hair fell to his shoulders, with some unruly strands tumbling over his forehead. Her eyes moved to his deeply tanned face, his square jaw line shadowed by a day’s growth of stubble, and dark brown eyes that betrayed none of his thoughts as he moved ever closer.
Her pulse quickened as she met and held his hard gaze. She couldn’t help but stare. Those penetrating dark eyes drew her in. She blinked, but found herself unable to look away. Dear God, she couldn’t recall ever seeing a painting or drawing of a mountain man that looked like this guy. Images of rough looking, bearded wild men came to mind. The man in front of her was quite simply…stunning. The feral, masculine virility he projected took her breath away, leaving her head spinning dizzily, and not from dehydration this time.
Yellowstone Heart Song is available at Amazon.
Thanks to Peggy for the wonderful excerpt! Now take a look at her book video!
RTW: What’s next? Is Yellowstone Heart Song a part of a series?
PLH: Yellowstone Heart Song started as a fun experiment for me. I never had publishing in mind when I wrote it three years ago. I had so much fun interacting with my critique partner, that I didn’t want it to end after she picked the book apart (guess I’m a glutton for punishment). So, when she asked me what I was writing next, I was dumbfounded at first. After thinking about it, I thought I’d better stick with the familiar. Why not write a sequel. Well, a sequel turned into a trilogy, which then turned into a series of five books so far. I’m pretty sure I’m done with the series, but who knows? If an idea pops into my head for a sixth book, I’ll probably write it. I’ve also got a “spin off” to the Yellowstone Romance Series planned, which will take us to the Grand Tetons, and another time travel series is also in the works.
RTW: Sounds like we have lots to look forward to! Anything else you’d like to add?
PLH: I never thought I’d be a writer someday, much less publish a book. The best advice I can give anyone who would like to try their hand at writing, is to find a critique partner. Not a friend, or someone you know, who will only tell you how wonderful your writing is. (One of my strictest rules – I don’t let friends and family read what I write.) Find someone who will be brutally honest, and pick your wonderful work of art to shreds. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at self-publishing, but if you do, make sure you’re putting out the best book you can possibly produce.
Thanks for joining us today, Peggy!
Thursday, we'll be treated to a tour of Yellowstone National Park with none other than Peggy L Henderson as our tour guide, so stop back by!