Today’s “Story Behind the Story” comes from Tiffany Amber Stockton!
Hi! My name is Tiffany, and Nicole has invited me here to guest blog about the inspiration behind my first novel. It’s a story I love to share, and today I get to share it with you.
Although I’ve been writing since I was in the 5th grade, I didn’t seriously begin pursuing professional publication until 2002 when I joined ACFW-American Christian Fiction Writers (then ACRW, American Christian Romance Writers). A good friend and favorite author, Tracie Peterson, suggested I join, so after 2 years of her nudging, I did.
But let’s back up a little bit. Not long after I first started reading Christian fiction, Barbour Publishing began a book club called Heartsong Presents, putting out 2 contemporary and 2 historical novels every month. I joined right from the start, and by 2002, I had read over 500 of their books. It was a dream of mine to one day be published with them, so I started doing a little research about what they wanted in a story.
As it turns out, they were in the middle of doing regional settings by state, and not a single author had proposed Delaware as a setting. Since I spent 25 years of my life living there (I was born in Maryland and now reside in Colorado), I jumped at the opportunity to showcase that little state.
Promises, Promises became the title of my first book. It released on February 15th, 2008 from Barbour Publishing and was the first in a trilogy that was released as Liberty’s Promise (repackaged) in March of 2010. The setting of these books is Colonial America, from the Great Awakening to the Revolutionary War, with the focus on the area of what is now known as the state of Delaware. The second, Quills & Promises, released in July, and the third, Deceptive Promises, released in November 2008.
In 2003, I was driving by a house I passed almost every day while running my usual errands. This day, in particular, something made me stop the car on the other side of the road. I rolled down the window and looked at the historic marker at the edge of the driveway with a notation that said, “circa 1740.” I thought to myself, “If only those walls could speak.” What a story they would tell!
That started me on a research journey where I learned everything I could about the home, only to discover not a lot was known or recorded about the actual family who lived there for nearly 200 years before the house and original land was sold at a state auction. So, being the writer that I am, I took a literary license and … made it up!
The ’what if’ moment came when I developed the story line for the first book. Without a lot of background, I had to rely on my imagination. Some excellent advice given to me included the method of taking your character to a point that seems hopeless…and making it worse. So, I asked, “What if a heroine with no siblings also loses her parents, then finds herself as the sole owner of land in a new world where women have no voice, feeling as if God has forsaken her?”
A key theme in the book is promises, in case you couldn’t tell from the title. (winks) Raelene, the heroine, promises her parents she’ll see their dreams realized and turn their land into a successful farm. Gustaf, the hero, promises Raelene’s father he’ll look after Raelene. Unfortunately, the previous year, Gustaf had asked for Raelene’s hand in marriage solely as a business merger so he could have her land. When Raelene discovers Gustaf’s promise and realizes she needs his help, she agrees only out of respect for her father and her own desire to see her parents’ dream fulfilled.
You can imagine the trouble that’s brewing from there. (grins)
The other 2 books in that series follow the family through 2 more generations and the Revolutionary War where the state of Delaware was formed.
This series is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. And starting this December, I have the privilege to again return to Delaware for another series—only this time, the setting is 100 years further into the future. Post-Civil War and near the turn of the 20th century. The Gilded Age is what some call it. I’m excited to begin! Hope you’ll be there to join me.
Thanks for dropping by today. And feel free to share any thoughts or ask any questions in the comments. You can even come to my web site and send me a message from there. I look forward to hearing from you.