Song of the Prairie
Janie Dunn’s life changes when, at her dying cousin’s request, she flees with her cousin’s newborn son to protect him from his abusive father. She moves to Kansas, but life takes a dire change when her brother is killed. Is a marriage of convenience to a kind-hearted rancher the answer to her problems? Will the baby’s father track her down and exact revenge?
- ISBN: 1629111708
- Publisher: Whitaker House
Interview with Vickie McDonough
By Amber Schamel - June 30, 2014
Your new release, Song of the Prarie, is the third book in the Pioneer Promises series and has a strong premise of a woman who is faced with a decision to take her cousin’s newborn son to protect him from abuse. Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
The premise actually came together in a rather round-about manner. The hero in Song of the Prairie is Aaron Harper, the oldest of the three Harper brothers on whom the series is based. He was married once before to a city gal who wasn’t happy living at the rugged Harper stage stop—a woman who often lied to him. Aaron is from a Christian family and highly values honesty and was troubled by his wife’s deceit. I felt that a woman hiding a secret, albeit for a very good reason, and not being fully honest with him would create the most conflict for Aaron.
Janie’s dream is to be an opera singer. To create the most conflict for her, I had to come up with a good reason for her to leave the music world—and protecting for her deceased cousin’s baby from his abusive father was the perfect catalyst.
Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
Definitely Aaron because he’s so honorable and such a good man. He struggles because he wasn’t able to make his first wife happy and now he’s had to send his two children to live in town with his brother, Josh, so they can get an education, and he wrestles with that decision. He helps Janie when tragedy strikes and doesn’t ask for anything in return. He’s a protector, a godly man, and a wonderful hero. What’s not to love?
Which was the hardest character to write? Why?
Martin Metcalf, the baby’s father. He’s a selfish, controlling man, who only wants to prosper himself. It was hard for me to grasp that he could be so vile that he could harm his sweet, pregnant wife and that he was even willing to endanger his own son to get what he wanted. It’s hard to understand a person so vile and to make him realistic on the page.
What helps you the most when you're developing your characters?
When I first started writing, I often used a book called Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes to help me plot my characters. I love that the book gives the positive and negative traits of each archetype, and it also tells how the hero and heroine archetypes mesh and clash with each other. Knowing a character’s personality will help you understand how he/she will react to different situations, and knowing that helps make characters more realistic. I don’t use the book much now but I do still refer back to it at times. The other thing that really helps in developing real-life characters is knowing their backstory—knowing what made them the person they are today.
What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
I grew up watching the cowboy shows of the 1960s on TV and fell in love with the Old West. I’ve always had a love for horses and owned three of them when I was younger. Caring for my horses gave me an understanding of the beautiful animals so that I could one day write about them. I have written several contemporary novels, including Rancher Under Fire, a Love Inspired Suspense which debuts in September, but I will always consider myself a historical writer.
Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
The most significant step in my writing journey was joining ACRW, as it was called thirteen years ago. I was a brand-new writer with so much to learn. I took ACFW’s online classes, got into a critique group, and attended the conference each year where I met other writers who became good friends and critique partners. I met my agent and several of my publishers there, too. I don’t know that I’d be published today if not for ACFW and what I learned through the organization and the people I met there.
What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
When you have multiple deadlines, writing can take over your life if you’re not careful. I work hard to find a balance between my work and my family and home. Sometimes one or the other gets neglected for a time, but things eventually level out. For me, the trick is discipline. I try to stick to completing my daily word count early so that I can tend to the other tasks that need doing later in the day.
How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Writing is my ministry. I write to entertain readers and to inspire them in their faith in God. I want my readers to see that they don’t have to go through difficult times alone and that God is always there to help them if they call on him. Writing is a way for me to convey to others that God loves and cares for them. I have no desire to write a book that doesn’t have an element of faith in it. God called me to the writing arena, and my faith in Him will always come through in the stories I write.
Who/What spurs you to write?
A deadline is an incredible motivator. :-) I find that I’m better organized and stay on task more efficiently when my deadline is looming. The desire to tell my characters’ stories is another motivator. I get to know my characters so well that I feel badly if I don’t complete their story. It’s weird, I know, but I’m sure other writers can sympathize. Being obedient to God and the calling to write is the main thing that spurs me on. God has opened many doors for me, and I’ve been able to touch the lives of readers, and that’s an incredible blessing.
What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I have a unique sense of humor that tends to come out in my books. My dad was a big prankster who liked to tell jokes and play tricks on people in a fun, not hurtful, way, and I’m a lot like him. I also like a lot of adventure in my books and try hard to keep the pace moving in my stories.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I read, watch my favorites show on TV, do stained glass art, and I like to travel. My sister and I have a booth at an antique mall so I’m often going to garage sales or estate sales, looking for things to repurpose and resell.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
I’m currently reading Marylu Tyndall’s book The Ransom, and I have several books about the Oklahoma land run of 1889 nearby that I’m researching for my new series called Land Rush Dreams. Gabriel’s Atonement is the first book in that series, and it releases in January, 2015.
Finish this statement: The hardest choice in life is…
...the one you still have to make.
Any parting words?
Thanks so much for allowing me to be ACFW’s Featured Author this time around. The last time I was featured was in 2010, and I’d written 18 books at that time. It amazes me that I’ve now sold 35 books and novellas. There was never a time in my life that I planned to become a writer. In fact, I was a math kid way back when I was in school and hated writing. Then that first story came to me, fast and furious. And then another one came, and I wrote it down too. I finished two novels in less than two months and decided that God was trying to get my attention. I attended my first writers’ conference and learned about ACRW there. Through writing, God has opened doors for me to travel, meet some incredible people and friends, and touch the lives of people I’d never have been able to if I hadn’t been obedient to His call. I’m telling you this in hopes that you, too, will obey the call of God on your life and then watch and see the wonderful things He’ll do when you’re obedient.
Thanks for sharing with us, Vickie!
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