In 2007, not long after I published my debut novel, I started a story about an optometry intern who found herself—in more ways than one—serving the people of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. I’ve been asked, “Why Montana, and why the Blackfoot?” Sometimes stories come to me in the strangest ways. But before I get to the root of why I choose this particular setting, I must disclose the dream that prompted me to write this story in the first place.
Don’t laugh, but remember that Expedia commercial a few years back showing the couple planning a trip to Hawaii? The husband searched the Internet and came across surfing lessons. His excitement about learning the sport dwindled as soon as he imagined a rather handsome Hawaiian coaching his wife in the fine art of balancing belly down on a surf board. The husband didn’t like the insinuation his mind presented, so he suggested an alternate trip: horseback riding. Here’s the link to jog your memory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tpRVAf3Rwk.
For some reason, I dreamt about that surfing instructor, only in my dream he was laying shirtless in a hospital bed. When I awoke, the first thing to enter my mind was, “that was weird”, but that weirdness was enough for me to create a hero based on that one scene. I laugh about it now because my hero doesn’t teach surfing lessons and doesn’t really look like that instructor. He was, however, recovering from surgery when the main character—the optometry intern—first meets him.
The fun thing about writing is you never know where the story will take you. Characters take a life of their own and settings develop before your eyes despite your most detailed plotting. But how does this answer the two questions of why Montana and why the Blackfoot? All my life, I’ve had a passion for the history and culture of the American Indian. It’s never been just a passing fancy, but a deep interest and desire to know more. God put this yearning in my heart and has used my penning fiction to bring it to life. When the idea of this story first hit me, I knew it had to involve people indigenous to this country. After some thought and prayer, God led me to write about the Blackfoot people. Naturally, the setting would be Montana, the location of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Yes, you never know where your writing will take you and it’s never been more apparent than now when God has given me the opportunity to visit the very place and people I’ve been excited to write about. Thanks to my brother-in-law who offered to pay the airfare, I’m heading to Big Sky Country in three weeks. To make this trip even sweeter, I finally get to meet my “sister” who has mentored and guided me through this journey of writing about and learning what it means to serve and walk beside the Native People.
Through the coming weeks, I plan to share this journey with you.
Where has God taken you in your writing journey?