Charlie’s eyes shifted to his brother. “Will spits ’bacca juice at me.”
“Charlie lies,” Will said.
These are the first words we hear from two young brothers in The Girl on the Mountain, the first book in my Mountain Women series. When I introduced these boys, I had no idea how they would impact the story and no intention of writing a series. In their first appearance, Will and Charlie are eleven and nine and are learning how to survive in a poor family with an abusive father and no mother. The main character, May Rose, has been charged with taking care of the family, which includes the boys’ baby sister, neglected to the point of abuse. Throughout the series, these three children grow up to be important to Winkler, the fictional town that’s the setting for each novel, but they remain secondary characters.
This, I think, is what life is like. We are the main characters of our own stories, but our lives are affected by the secondary and minor characters who make up our world. The thirteen novels in the Mountain Women Series present the lives of people in difficult circumstances who manage to carry on, driven by their own determination but also helped by the characters around them.
The main character (May Rose) is most revealed as she becomes attached to destitute children. First there’s thirteen-year-old Wanda, whom May Rose meets after being abandoned by her husband. May Rose is only a few years older than Wanda and doesn’t know how she’s going to take care of herself. Wanda is essentially homeless, the daughter of an alcoholic prostitute, but she has the confidence May Rose lacks. Throughout the series, Wanda becomes the most important secondary character (and a favorite of readers). She is also the main character of book two in the series, Cold Comfort.
I find writing a series to be easier than writing stand-alone stories because I do not have to invent many new characters and settings. Each of my stories introduces one or more new people who in some way affect the plot. Currently I’ve been reading about the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal during the great depression. I expect to fit the CCC into the lives of my characters in the next story.
Currently the time period of the series is 1897 to 1934. I’ve written a draft of the final book in the series, set in 1976, in which May Rose is ninety-two. That book won’t be released until I’ve filled in the years with a few others.
Writing has been a great retirement pursuit. I enjoy the people in my stories, and it’s been gratifying to hear from readers who say they like them too. Thanks for reading!