Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of several "sweet" romance novels and dozens of children's books. Many of her titles have won both national and regional awards. She is a member of numerous writing organizations, including Women Writing the West, Southwest Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives with her family in New Mexico. Amanda’s Beau is her 28th published title.
Welcome back to my blog, Shirley Raye. Please tell us about Amanda’s Beau.
Thanks, Linda. The novel takes place in the year 1905 in New Mexico territory. My heroine Amanda Dale is burdened with the responsibility of caring for her widowed sister, an invalid, and Ella’s two children—one a premature infant. Schoolteacher Gil Gladney is handsome, intelligent and sensitive. When he and his pupils discover the relics of an ancient culture among the ruins outside the village, Gil contacts an old college friend. The possibility of an archeological excavation excites the community of cash-strapped farmers, eager to earn extra money working on the site. When a rabid skunk reels through the excavation site, threatening the lives of Amanda and her nephew Rex, Gil realizes that life is short and the possibility of true happiness can be fleeting. In the end, Amanda learns to trust God to provide the happily-ever-after ending she’s been praying for.
I read your book and I enjoyed it very much. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?
My novel was inspired by the true story of a schoolteacher in New Mexico who (along with his pupils) discovered some ancient Anasazi ruins on the outskirts of the town. I took my own youngsters to Aztec, New Mexico, several years ago and knew then that one day I wanted to write a story focused on the ruins there.
I am so intrigued with the ancient ruins of America. What kind of research did you do for this book?
To refresh my memory about the history of the Aztec ruins and to learn more about the early excavations there, I read the book, Aztec Ruins on the Animas by Robert H. Lister and Florence C. Lister, which I bought years ago in the museum bookstore when we visited the Aztec Ruins National Monument. I also read Rabid, A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy to help me with the rabid skunk scene. It was grim but fascinating reading.
I think it’s interesting when authors add real life situations to their stories. Did you put real experiences from your research in this book?
Absolutely! Much of the information about chickens I learned from my son, who raises chickens as a hobby. Like Gil and his pupils, my family and I rambled through the ruins on the outskirts of the town of Aztec. So the sights, sounds, smells and tactile sensations in the story are all based on personal experience.
Even Bonita, the ragtag Irish setter in the novel, is based on a real dog named Fly, which belonged to my father when he was a boy in the 1920s back in Virginia. Unfortunately, the dog succumbed to blood lust, attacking chickens and other animals on the family farm. When the dog snatched my dad’s infant cousin from a blanket on the ground during a family picnic, he had to chase the dog into the woods, shoot her and rescue the baby. I vowed my story would have a happier ending, and it does.
I had never heard of blood lust before. When I read your novel, I was so surprised. Thank you so much for this interview, Shirley Raye. I hope my followers will check out your book.