The Story Behind the Story
It all began with the infatuation. Surprising? He was a character in a Western film that I could not set aside. This was pattern for me. Every time I had a crush on someone I couldn't shake, I found it effective to just "write them off". So this story I wrote as a form of catharsis that I never intended to share with anyone.
Another inspiration was the BBC mini-series, Lost In Austen. It, too, served a great escape for me. As said Amanda Price, "It is a truth, generally acknowledged, that we are all longing for escape."
I daydreamed my way through my fictitious story, as it began to unfold, until I'd hit a wall and have to set it aside for a time.
To help flesh out the world of the frontier town of Barlow and the Egan homestead, I'd take notebook and pen to nearby Paramount Ranch: a "Wild West" movie set-turned-national park. The Sunday picnic after church (in the book) I wrote lying under a sycamore tree there. Most of the story I hand-wrote before typing; I think better that way.
Working at the Leonis Adobe Museum was also very valuable as it replicates ranch life in the late 1880s. There I was able to experience the lifestyle and pick up interesting facts about the era otherwise hard to come by. It was also there that I became the adopted Mama of a lamb born with crooked legs and "Dobby"-shaped ears. I named her Feliz, thinking Feliz Navidad, when she was born a week before Christmas of 2013. She lived to be a year old -and what an extraordinary life she led! But that's another story.
Now that the book is done, my heart throbbing for ol' "what's his face" has long since ceased. But I now have a heart for the characters and story of The Branded Heart.
- Michele E. Fischer
Most dear to my heart are the animals in The Branded Heart : two of them (shown here) were animals I knew well, each bringing a special purpose to the story...
"Thursday, February 7, 1878
We've had a new visitor of late: a white dog with a blondish tint to his
short, floppy ears and coat; a fluffy, gleaming white tail that curls up;
big paws; and the most unusual, slanted, pale blue eyes...
It's a mystery where he comes from."
- The Branded Heart
Writing some of The Branded Heart at a
Civil War reenactment (2013-14)
"the fabulous fleece"
"Casper" is a real dog named Blue Eyes, who I call "Bluey", most just call him "Blue". He is a stray dog who escaped several times from a rescue. He since lives free and happy, and well cared for by my former pastors. He was a good friend of mine in California who liked to follow me around and helped with looking after the other animals I took care of. I described him just as he behaved in real life in The Branded Heart.
"And those ears! Her ears hang like God had put them on upside down; they look a little like the flaps on 'The Flying Nun's' cornette (headpiece on her habit) or the ears of Dobby, the house elf in 'Harry Potter'.
I made diapers for her to wear inside at night, out of some old burlap they had in the barn (eck, I know). I cut a hole in it for her tail."
- The Branded Heart