Divine Providence--Elijah's promise and writing the stories of the Pioneers
When I was writing Lightning Tree, several things happened to made me feel Heavenly Father was guiding me. I'd come upon just the right information in a way that seemed miraculous. Hard copies of pioneer journals would fall randomly into my hands, and they would describe exactly the historical events I'd be writing about. I'd research family names, fall in love with them, and then suddenly come upon them several times in a row either in reading or just walking around "provo town" and seeing monuments.
I have spent the last several months researching and outlining Lightning Tree's sequel (currently untitled), and recently have begun on the actual writing. And something astounding has happened already.
I'm going to be exploring the Mountain Meadows Massacre a little more in this story (just as incidental plot thickening and backstory, of course... my books are not exposes. Although, with the research I've done, and some things I've found... well, they could be if I wanted them to.)
I have a good friend in this new town I've moved to, who is also interested in history. He read Lightning Tree, and said it moved him because the main character's experiences closely mirror some that an ancestor of his endured. Her tragedy has a direct connection to Mountain Meadows and her story is not very well-known, so of course I was interested in it.
As he told me about this great-great grandmother of his, I started identifying with her. This happened with Lightning Tree--I'd find a family, fall in love with them, and sort of use them as the rough outline for some characters in my story, so I am always interested in biographies and journals of the early pioneers.
He gave me some material to read about her-- I started loving her. And I realized that an event that happened to her would be perfect to put into this next book. It occurred at exactly the time I'd planned to have my main character pass through the town where she lived. So I did further research--comparing and contrasting sources to get some finite dates & details correct.
And then just two weeks ago, I found out (through talking to this friend, and comparing family history) that I am related. She is my (4x, I think) great aunt's daughter. Not sure what that makes me to her. But I feel sometimes like, in writing historical fiction, that phenomenon of Elijah and the hearts turning to fathers has occurred for me. For whatever reason, these people want this story told. And that gives me the strength and determination to tell it. And it validates me as a writer--even though I'm mother of 7, with all the different "hats" that role tends to bury me in, I am supposed to write. Heavenly Father wants me to write.
I feel my heart expanding to include these people I read about and identify with as I write these stories.