K. L. (Karen Lea) McKee earned her B.A. in English from Regis University, worked in the Reference Center of the Mesa County Library for 29 years before retiring in 2014 to pursue writing full time.
She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She and her husband reside in Western Colorado. Her roots in the North Fork Valley run deep, and so the valley seemed a fitting setting for her North Fork series. “Stolen Heart” is the second book of the series.
The following is an excerpt from “Stolen Heart.”
Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to show readers the value of honesty and integrity, plus give them a look into rural America, specifically dairy farming.
Place this excerpt in context. How does it fit into the book as a whole and why did you select it?
It shows the conflict my heroine, Abby, has for compromising her integrity, and the conflict that Jake has for being attracted to his brother’s fiancée. The scene is early in the book, but sets the tone for the entire novel.
Tell us about creating this book: any research and travel you might have done, any other influences on which you drew?
My aunt greatly influenced me early in my life by her integrity for paying off her husband’s debts. My research was basically three-fold: I interviewed Andy Wick of Upper Valley Holsteins to find out how a modern dairy is run; I took lessons in fly fishing from two friends—Pat and Carol Oglesby—so that the fishing scene would be authentic; and I did several interviews with Dick Conkle who worked in mine safety and rescue for forty years. Since I grew up in the area I write about, I also relied on my experiences and memories.
What were the biggest challenges you faced, or surprises you encountered in completing this book?
The biggest difficulty was taking the information I researched and making it believable, while still adapting to my story. The biggest surprise was how computerized modern dairies are.
Walk us through your writing process: Where and when do you write? What time of day? Do you listen to music, need quiet?
I usually write in the mornings in my office. I can close the door and shut out the world, except for my west window, which provides lots of light. I usually write to movie soundtracks—orchestrations only—and can generally pick the mood I want.
What’s your next project?
My next project is the third book in the North Fork Series. It will be about a fruit farmer who lost his wife and children to a drunk driver and is looking for a simpler way of life. It’s about forgiveness, reconciliation, and new starts.