Bronwyn Long Borne is a nurse by day and writer by night. She also wrote under the pen name, Rohret Buchner, which honors grandmothers whose courage and determination are the inspiration for her heroines. Bronwyn is published in health care-related academic journals and was a freelance wine writer for Examiner.com and coloradowineandfood.com. She lives with her husband in Denver.
Tell us this book’s backstory. What inspired you to write it? Where did the story/theme originate?
Since I was in grade school, I’ve been fascinated with the people who settled the West. I grew up in Laramie, Wyoming. On the drive west of town to the Snowy Range—a range in the Rocky Mountains with peaks that rise to elevations of 12,018 feet—when the afternoon light is just right, you can still see the wheel ruts in the trail traversed by emigrants traveling West. This led to my admiration for the bravery and grit of those settlers and the rigors of the journey.
I enjoy tales of adventure and stories about women who triumph over adversity. I’m a hopeless romantic. Put these elements together and you have the setting for “Custodian of the Spirits,” the first book in the Valley of Heart’s Delight series. The Valley of Heart’s Delight is known today as Silicon Valley.
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Place this excerpt in context. How does it fit into the book as a whole? Why did you select it?
The excerpt from “Custodian of the Spirits” depicts an interaction between Fiona, Kier, and Caleb. Kier has been described as a man who has lived with the Sioux, traveled the world, crossed the Pacific Ocean, and is “the best tracker, best shot, and best guide of our time.” Fiona has befriended Kier’s parents, Clare and Gideon, and has been looking forward to meeting him.
As a romance writer, there’s anticipation for the moment the heroine and hero meet. Will there be magic? The opposite? Something unexpected?
Tell us about creating this book. What influences and/or experiences informed the project before you actually sat down to write the book?
Growing up in the West, there is romance in the landscape and in the courage of emigrants willing to take it on. A number of books, movies, and TV shows have been an inspiration, as have tales from family members about their experiences working the land and building farms passed to the next generation. One family member was a widow and single mother who had to find her way while adjusting to her new circumstances.
Once you began writing, did the story take you in any unexpected directions? If so, how would you describe dealing with a narrative that seems to have a mind of its own?
Discoveries about historical events and phenomena took the story to unexpected directions. For example, learning about “Seeing the Elephant” was something I had to include after reading about it.
Similarly, learning there were bands of white men masquerading as Indians and attacking wagon trains was something new to me. One woman was so angry that her husband had taken her away from her family that her journal consisted of a tally of graves she saw each day.
Some graves were placed in the trail so they would be concealed from predators, hidden beneath the tracks of thousands of wagons. Intriguing historical nuggets will find their way into the book.
What were the biggest challenges you faced, or surprises you encountered in completing this book?
Time. I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day! I work a demanding job as a nurse, which limits my time to write.
Has the book raised questions or provoked strong opinions among your readers? How did you address them?
Perhaps the biggest question is what will happen next. Some reviewers said they gave it only one star because of the cliffhanger. My original draft was too long per the publisher’s guidelines, so I needed to find a good place to stop.
Given that it’s category romance, readers can look forward to happy events ahead—and cowboys! Lots of cowboys.
Walk us through your writing process: Where and how do you write?
The characters and storyline are alive and evolving in my head. I jot notes on scraps of paper as ideas arise. I’m an outliner-pantser hybrid who works from a general outline. The Valley of Heart’s Delight series is a family saga, so I’ve been thinking of where to end the next book and the book after that.
It sounds like the next book will be set in the Valley of Heart’s Delight in California. Will future storylines have a Colorado connection?
Yes, one of the characters will spend time in Colorado in a future book. Another character is an Indian Agent who is very upset by the Sand Creek Massacre. Distress over the treatment of Native Americans will be woven throughout the series.
Tell us about your next project.
The next project is the next book in the Valley of Heart’s Delight series. The storyline picks up right after the end of the first book, “Custodian of the Spirits.”