Melody Carlson has written 200 books for teens, women, and children (more than five million copies sold). She’s won several awards from the Romance Writers of America, the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, Christian Retailing magazine, and other national organizations. Melody and her husband have two grown sons and make their home in the Pacific Northwest.
Kentucky, 1854--Elizabeth Martin has mourned her husband's death for three years, but now she feels ready to fulfill the dream they had shared--to take their two children west. The dream becomes reality when her middle-aged parents and bachelor brother surprise her with the news that they want to go as well.
After converting three of their best wagons to prairie schooners and thoroughly outfitting them, the little party travels from Kentucky to Kansas City, where they join a substantial wagon train. Elizabeth soon finds herself being drawn to the group's handsome guide, Eli Kincade.
The long journey and deepening relationships challenge the travelers to their core, and Eli's mysterious past leaves Elizabeth with more questions than answers. She knows there's no turning back, but she wonders, What have I gotten myself into?
The Homeward on the Oregon Trail series brings to life the challenges a young widow faces as she journeys west, settles her family in the Pacific Northwest, and helps create a new community among strong-willed and diverse pioneers.
Welcome to Ink Dots, Melody. It's great to have you visit this week. Tell us about your family? I grew up in an unconventional household with a single mom and one sister. For that reason my extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.) became very important to me. This also made me long for a more traditional family as an adult. I’ve been married to a wonderful guy (who supports my writing) for more than 34 years now. I have two grown sons who live nearby. And we’re blessed with a delightful eight year old granddaughter who brightens our lives considerably. Oh, yeah, we also have a sweet yellow lab dog and a Mainecoon cat.
How did you come to write Westward Hearts? During my childhood, my grandparents were a major influence in my life and I grew up hearing stories of their adventuresome ancestors who traveled the Oregon Trail in the 1850’s. In light of our recent depressed economy, I got to thinking about that pioneering spirit and decided to write about this previous generation and how they rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to improve their quality of life. My hope was that these tales of ordinary people triumphing over hardships and challenges might inspire readers in their own journeys.
What’s the most fascinating thing you discovered in your research for this book? Several things fascinated me, including the political climate at the height of the Oregon Trailemigration. The United Stateswas on the verge of a Civil War that would tear the country apart. Also there was the relationship between Native Americans and the push toward “settling” the west. Although I try not to get too political in these stories, I do address these issues and I feel they make this series more interesting.
Have you been to Australia? In the mid 1970’s I was in Sydney (and thereabouts) briefly. I was on my way to Papua New Guinea where I spent a year volunteering with Wycliffe Bible Translators SIL program. I loved my visit Down Under and wished I could’ve stayed longer. My year in PNG I had numerous Australian friends (and an Aussie roommate) and felt like I was experiencing Australian culture. I even mastered a fairly convincing Aussie accent. I would love to come back to visit someday. How exciting!! I think you're my first author interview who's made the trek Down Under. I'm very impressed at your Aussie accent abilities. Not many people get that right!
So, what’s on the horizon for Melody Carlson? I’m always working on the next book. Well, almost always because I do take some time off. Right now I’m finishing a young adult novel and my husband and I are getting ready to head off to the Pendlexton Round-up (one of the biggest rodeos in America). After that I’ll be working on the third and final book of the Homeward on the OregonTrail series. In this novel the pioneers are settling into their new lives in western Oregon.
I really enjoyed getting to know you, Melody, and look forward to this series. Where can we find you on the internet? www.melodycarlson.com <http://www.melodycarlson.com/
Thanks for being my guest this week. We look forward to hearing more of your writing news.
Like me, if you'd like to read about Elizabeth Martin's adventures on the Oregon Trail, please leave a comment below and you'll be in the draw to win a copy of Westward Hearts. Tell us if you've ever ridden in a horse drawn wagon, or similar contraption. I'd love to hear your stories, and I'll announce the winner here in the comment thread on Friday. Good luck - and don't forget to leave your contact details if you don't have a blog link to your name. I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on a chance to win this book.