The "Behind the Ranges" Series
Where wilderness challenges heart and soul...
Every Saturday afternoon my great aunt and I went to the double feature at the Granada Theatre in Boise. Two westerns, a newsreel, and a serial. We didn't have popcorn--she was too poor to afford it--but we had a wonderful time anyhow. We continued to do so until I was a teenager, when the weekly outings became occasional. She rarely missed a Saturday until a stroke felled her, at the age of 83, in the Granada Theatre where she was watching a western.
Those westerns had a great influence on me and what I write. So did living nearly all my life within shouting distance of the Oregon Trail. When I finally began seriously thinking about writing a book, instead of technical stuff, setting it on the Oregon Trail made perfect sense. Setting it in Idaho did too, because that was the country I knew best.
It took me the better part of ten years to write the first draft of The Queen of Cherry Vale, mostly because for about eight of them I thought about writing it. I read diaries of women on the trail, researched all sorts of interesting topics like how oxen were hitched, how one packed china for a cross country journey in a covered wagon, and how much space a million dollars' worth of gold would occupy, given the price of gold in the 1840s, and a hundred other topics way more fun than settling down to write. It wasn't until I'd written a couple of other books, collected a bunch of rejections, and realized I'd better start writing what I liked to read instead of what I thought would sell that I began telling the story that eventually became the first book in the "Behind the Ranges" series.
Even before I finished the first draft, I knew I'd have to write a series, not just one book. My characters had come to life and were clamoring for stories of their own. Some of the characters settled into Cherry Vale and started having babies, while one youngster went off to see the world. Three books, easy, because he was bound to come back someday.
Then the babies grew up and began having adventures of their own. Those first three books became six, and finally nine. I'm pretty sure there's at least one more coming. Someday...
So where did the series name come from? One of my favorite poets for reading aloud is Rudyard Kipling. His poem, "The Explorer" perfectly expresses what I wanted to say about those folks who went into the wilderness in search of better lives, practically from the day the first explorers landed on the shores of the New World. Especially these two lines:
Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the ranges--
Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!
The Behind the Ranges books are all available from Uncial Press as well as from nearly every other ebookseller in the world. Or order the trade paperbacks from your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore. Details are on the Historicals Page.