A WORD FROM B. J. MYRICK
Have you ever wondered where a writer gets the idea for a particular book and what is involved in the creation of the story that looks so enticing in the book’s description? In a series of blog posts this month, I will touch on what is involved in creating a novel while trying to remain faithful to history, move into a character interview, and end with a reading from the novel. I’ll start with the idea for the novel, which was inspired by both my mother’s stories about homesteading in No Man’s Land and my great-grandmother’s recipes for herbal cures—she was a medicine woman.
Within the tattered pages of the old Dr. Chase’s book, published sometime in the 1800s, were my great-grandmother’s handwritten recipes for medicines written on the blank pages at the end of chapters. They contained weird ingredients such as sugar of lead, chloroform, sarsaparilla, sulphuric ether and acid, iodide of potash, stillingia, poke root, morphine, to name just a few. Her cures covered diphtheria, blood purifier and liver regulator, piles, worms, and a host of other ailments. With her concoctions, she healed ill and dying patients who had been given up to die by the doctors. Unfortunately, she never passed down the tradition of healing with herbs.
As I considered how I could use the herbal healing in a novel, what story I could tell, I remembered all those family stories my mother told me about homesteading in No Man’s Land. As a child, I used to beg her to retell the stories, and she would laugh and say, “Oh, you don’t want to hear that again.” But she always recounted those fascinating tales of digging the dugout, confronting outlaws, and surviving the war between the cattlemen and the settlers. I never tired of hearing about those frightening experiences of what it was like to homestead in that wild and untamed territory.
The story, Nelly of No Man’s Land takes place in Oklahoma over a two-year period. A pioneer family homesteads in The Strip where they struggle to survive in a lawless territory. Nelly Duncan is a dying woman who battles to regain her health while struggling to resolve the personal pain of her husband’s alcohol addiction and infidelity. Through the help of a medicine man, she regains her health there. Then the past returns to haunt her: the handsome peddler she turned to for comfort during her husband’s unfaithfulness and who fathered a child her husband thinks is his own, reappears in her life.
Take a step back in time and travel with me through the pages of Nelly of No Man’s Land as I share the journey with you. The historical novel is scheduled for publication around the first week of December, just in time for Christmas.
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