Q&A with Tracie Peterson and Mary Connealy!

Welcome to the Wild West! In our releases this month, Tracie Peterson takes us to the real-life history of the Oregon Trail, and Mary Connealy brings us the second Boden sibling to find love. I asked Mary and Tracie to share a few inside details with readers so you can look forward to adding both of these to your TBR pile.

Amy: Describe your main characters for me.

Mary: Justin is the rancher. He’s especially in conflict with Cole, the older, more citified brother. For Justin, I wanted a heroine who really clashed with him. So I brought in a very dainty woman who’d been raised in elite, moneyed circles in Omaha, Nebraska. A rich father, a rich husband, and none of them kind and loving people. Justin is drawn to Angelique DuPree, but sees her as a woman who needs “civilization.” And who has no ranching skills, no kitchen skills. She is the worst possible choice to be a rancher’s wife in the rugged West. Angelique is driven by the notion that she has been a weakling all her life. She let her mother rule her, then later her husband, and it all led to poverty and hardship and a life without love. She is determined to stop obeying blindly and find the courage God expects of her.

Tracie: Grace is a healer who has learned the art from her mother and grandmother. She’s also rather prejudiced and opinionated. Her love interest, Alex Armistead, is running from the past and God. He’s determined to remain lost in the Oregon Country wilderness, but his heart has other ideas. As he and Grace clash, both come to learn that they have changes to face and that real love is there for them—if they are brave enough to accept it.

Amy: How did you pick your setting?

Mary: I took a trip to Chama, New Mexico, several years ago for a writers’ retreat, where we all rode a train on a narrow-gauge railroad. That train took us through the area I’m writing about. What amazed me were the desert-like conditions, and yet the grasslands, all brown and dead-looking, the tour guide said was lush and cattle got fat on it. It helped me to see that rocky soil for its real value—with the mountains rising up around us, covered in Aspen trees that seemed to grow right out of the rock. In fact, this has helped me see past the reputation of many places and understand how people can live, often comfortably, in what seems like a forbidding land, if they can just learn to live with the land instead of imposing the life they came from on a place that won’t support that.

Tracie: When I planned Treasured Grace, I wanted it to incorporate several actual historical events. The attack on the Whitman Mission was a fascinating one that played a big role in the way the government dealt with the Indians of the west for years to come. Frustrated and dealing with the deaths of loved ones, the Cayuse Indians of the area had reached their limit of cooperating with the whites—Dr. Marcus Whitman in particular. There were quite a few diary accounts of all that happened at the mission, making it nice for me as a writer to create as accurate a fiction novel as possible.

Amy: What themes come up in your novel?

Mary: The Boden family began for me with Jacob and Esau and this notion of how badly Jacob and Esau were treated by their parents, Isaac and Rebecca. The mom loved and favored Jacob. The father favored Esau. Deep differences in character between Jacob and Esau also put them naturally in conflict. That has always bothered me. I’ve known parents who had their favorites, bragged on one child and disparaged another, left more money to the favored child, things like that. So the seed of my story was: What if instead of spurring on the conflict between their sons, Isaac and Rebecca had done everything in their power to bring their sons together? Chance Boden is determined that his children will be close, will realize they love each other, and that the conflict between them is nothing compared to their loyalty to each other, as well as the connection they share as future owners of the ranch. Chance goes to some extreme measures to get his children to be friends. The conflict and the love between them continue to clash and grow in Long Time Gone.

Tracie: As with all of my books there was a desire to speak to the matter of forgiveness, but in this story there was also the element of trusting God when all seems lost—trusting Him even when bad and undeserved things happen. I also wanted to create a story where there were serious consequences for my characters—consequences for actions put upon them and not actions they chose for themselves. People so often struggle with the pain and life-changing situations that are thrust upon them because of things done to them. I wanted to present a story that would show the reader that even when those things are done, we can trust God to bring beauty from ashes.

Just for fun, let’s have a giveaway! I’ll pick one winner to receive Mary and Tracie’s new books on Monday, April 3. To enter, just respond to this question: Why do you think people are drawn to stories about the American frontier?

51 thoughts on “Q&A with Tracie Peterson and Mary Connealy!

  1. I think people are drawn to the American frontier, of course, for the romanticism of it, but also for the adventure. Possibilities were endless in the minds of the early settlers- the frontier offered hope of a new and better life. Also, the rugged inner strength needed to survive the unknown facing early settlers is intriguing. 🙂

    • Hi Crystal. And the adventure, part of that was, that wide open frontier called for huge strength, big, daring personalities. Men and women strong enough to tear survival out of a wilderness. Every life, everyone who survived had a story. They are endless.

  2. I have read Treasured Grace and loved the characters and the story, Life was definately hard and many choices were new and never been done before. Those at the mission wanted to spread news of Jesus and to help heal also but were met with resistance from those not understanding.
    Tracie was this story hard to write or easier for you? I could see this story being done with the dr and the healer liking one another and joining their techniques to help at the mission….why did you choose to have them not be closer?

  3. There are, at times, a desire to have the simpler things in life. The American frontier showcases that life. Faith would also play an important role in that life; the belief that things will get better.

  4. I think we are drawn to the American Frontier life because of the history and the bravery of the settlers. Yeah they may have been scared but they still made a choice to leave a life they knew for the unknown. I personally love reading about the hardships and how they reacted. I also just love the everyday work and how much time they put into their homesteads to make it all work.

  5. I’ve always loved the frontier stories – it seemed like a ‘rough’ way to go but very exciting, unpredictable and inspirational! Can’t wait to read it & present to my book club for an assignment.

  6. People are drawn to stories of the West because of a sense of adventure, danger and romance; plus it was a slower simpler time. There’s always a mystery surrounding the time with all the history. I love this time period!!

  7. I think people are drawn to it because it was a simpler time and a chance at an adventure. I love reading these kind of stories.

  8. I agree with others…I think people are drawn to the simpler times, the adventure and it’s nice to escape from our busy lives by curling up with a book and going back to another time in history.

  9. It was a rugged but in some fashion a simpler time and place, so I think that is part of the appeal. Historical fiction based on frontier life in the West is also educational, as most is well researched. I always enjoy books by both Tracie and Mary.

    • Cathy, thanks. I agree that, though it was a hard life, it was also simple. Eating, building, sewing clothes, tending livestock, the routine of everyday life took up all your time. When you think how much time people spend now days entertaining themselves. looking at their phones, watching TV, there was no time for that back then. So it’s a much easier life, but not nearly so simple.

  10. I am drawn to stories about the American frontier, because it is our history!
    I am also very impressed by what some of the settlers went and how they survived and even thrived.

  11. I think people are drawn to the frontier for the thrill of the unknown. The anxiety of what could lay ahead is mixed with the excitement of adventure and a great story.

  12. We admire those people who could carve out a life with no comforts, possible dangers, illness, etc., and still have self-discipline to stick it out. They were the pioneers. Reading books like these gives us the expectation of the unexpected; raw love and romance because you only had each other and God.

  13. They are drawn because they want to escape the harsh things that bombard them daily on the news, at their jobs, and sometimes miserably in their own families. The wide open spaces offer a chance to “duke it out” with their frustrations, without any repercussions. They want the good guys in white hats to stomp the bad guys to the ground, while saving all the pretty ladies. They want to breathe in some freedom, and to find happy endings after all. They want to sit around the campfires, and hear how the good guys won, while the coyotes and wolves are held at bay from the flames of the fires. Concrete and asphalt have nothing on broad prairies, and rugged beautiful mountains. 😉

  14. I think people are interested because it is our history and it is fun to see how they lived and worked back then. I love stories of the 1800’s.

  15. I think this time period is kind of romantic. There is a dependence on each other and a need to work together to make their lives better. No television or computers for entertainment, just the opportunity to share dreams and desires. Plus, more dependence on God. I know times were tough but that builds character.

  16. There is a romantic quality to the old west. How they lived was trying and difficult day-to-day. But hearing about their lives through novels filled with adventure with that special someone tugs at your heartstrings.

  17. Adventure… and we romantize (is that a word?) it to think the tough situations made people’s characters stronger and right and wrong more obvious

  18. I’m guessing we idealize it a wee bit, but generally Westerns are tales of hope and a future–conquering a rugged land, where skill, hard work, and determination makes the man, not inherited wealth or pedigree. It’s the American Dream!

  19. I am drawn to stories set on the Western frontier because I love reading about the hardships and challenges the pioneers had to overcome and how their faith played a major part in their survival.

  20. I think there are many reasons: history, adventure, survival, family, honor, hope, faith, teamwork and community. Things have changed so much since the American frontier days. Now instead of paving a new path into the unknown we have highways. Months of travel can be done in hours. For some reason going back in time through reading is exciting and fun!

    • Louis L’Amour said the west changed with the train. It was too easy to get there. Too easy to quit if you changed your mind. A new kind of westerner emerged who wasn’t as hardy and bold.

  21. A lot of people are saying it was a simpler time, but I don’t see it as simpler at all. However, it was less hectic, in that, at the end of the day, you could go out on your porch and just be with God. Today everyone is online for every spare minute, and running way past any reasonable time just because we can, we have electricity. Ah, for those quiet evenings on the porch!

  22. Louis L’Amour always said the strong people got bigger, stronger, the weak people, the scared people, went back east, or never dared come west to begin with. That filled the frontier with big personalities, people with nerve and courage. Good guys and bad guys were all tough or they weren’t out there. And that went for men and women.

  23. I always enjoy Mary Connealy’s books and Tracie’s as well. I know men and women who are true cowboys, still riding and roping, whatever needs to be done, into their 80s and even in their 90s. I think of them when reading books based in the era of The Cowboy.

  24. I am always draw to the frontier because it is a part of my personal history as an American. I also think some of the fascination lies in the fact that it is a time and place we can never really return to except in our books and imagination. I read and really enjoyed Treasured Grace. Great story! Looking forward to Mary’s new one as well. Thanks Bethany House!

    Mary Koester

  25. I love old west stories because they show the endurance and strong will in characters. Women who work along side men, striving for a better life or daily survival.

  26. It is always interesting to see what it was like before- how people and their conflicts are the same even though circumstances are different. The frontier gives us a glimpse of history and how it shaped those before us and ultimately us, too. Plus there is that fun of the rugged world and surviving it!

  27. I enjoy reading about simpler times where life wasn’t being concerned and worried about the world and how evil it has become. Where we didn’t have to worry about raising our children amidst global terrorism. I want to be able to relax and read a book that brings me back to the heart of America.

  28. We love them because they are OUR stories! My great great grandfather came to Texas from Alabama in a covered wagon. My great uncle tells me stories of farming when the mules would buck & run away every time they sang “This Little Light of Mine”! It is family, connection, home.

  29. I love the challenges of the old west. I love stories about cowboys and the work they did as well as what they did with their free time. I love to read about the relationships all of the characters have as well as the conflicts they have. I love Mary Connealy and Tracie Peterson books and try to buy them when they come out.

  30. I just love every book about the west..Next year in 2018 for our 50th wedding anniversary going back to deadwood, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Love the area so much!! I always read Mary’s and Tracie’s books. Loose yourself in their stories for sure!!

  31. Personally, I’m drawn to stories about the frontier because it’s a life I wish I could live. My dad and husband both say they were born in the weong century, and I kinda agree LOL.

  32. I think stories of the west let us learn a little more of history from a practical viewpoint . I love the day to day life lessons from a simpler time. And these are two of my favorite writers .

  33. I like reading how people ventured into new areas. I often tell myself to not complain about minor things. I compare them to the days of wagon trains and then see how blessed I am.

  34. I’ve real a lot of Tracie Peterson books. She is one of the most prolific authors I know. Right now I am reading A Beauty Refined. Love it!

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