Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Promo- Eunice Boeve

Eunice Boeve, a longtime Kansas resident, was born and raised in northwest Montana and Idaho. Steeped in western lore, her father a cowboy turned forest service packer, her mother a voracious reader who often read aloud to her family the stories of B.M Bower, Zane Grey, and Will James, she and her siblings have always loved stories of the old west.

A mother of four, grandmother of five, she has worked as a speech paraprofessional in a school for special needs children, and as a secretary/bookkeeper in the family owned funeral home. Now retired, she and her husband have a summer place in Montana. Her main hobby is reading, but she loves to play golf and cards, and she is delighted when her son-in-law visits them in Montana and takes them geo-caching. (see her June 23, 2009 blog about geo-caching.)

Can you tell me why you deviated from your usual middle grade/young adult fiction to adult in Ride a Shadowed Trail?

I’ve always wanted to write a western and when I heard about a woman rancher named Margaret Borland who in 1873, accompanied her herd of cattle from her ranch near Victoria, Texas to the railheads in Kansas, I decided to write about her. We spent some time in that area of Texas and I researched her life story. But, when I started to write about her, she would not come to life. How it happened, I can’t really tell you, for I don’t know myself, but her story turned into Josh’s story, becoming a work of fiction, and Margaret Borland morphed into Martha Rawlins, who took her herd to Kansas, hiring Josh as a trail hand. Josh’s mother was a prostitute and the bad guy in the story is a rapist and murderer of many, but especially targets young Mexican girls, so the subject matter precluded it from being anything other than adult and high school age.

I understand Ride a Shadowed Trail won the Kansas Authors’ Coffin Award.
Yes. Each year, a book, designated as the best by a Kansas Club member, is chosen for the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Award and Ride a Shadowed Trail won this year. In 2001, my middle grade/young adult novel of the Depression and dust bowl days of the Midwest, titled The Summer of the Crow won the honor.(Info posted on my website about Ride a Shadowed Trail receiving the award.)

How long have you been writing?
My first piece written for publication was when I was in the 6th grade. At my teacher’s suggestion, I wrote a poem to enter in the Weekly Reader contest. It went into the mail and disappeared. Since then some of my other writings have disappeared in the same manner. My father wrote a book about his cowboy days, probably about the time I was born, but it was never published. He died when I was five. As I said, my mother was an avid reader, recited poetry for her own pleasure, and read to us. Maybe both parents influenced me to think about writing, but I was in my thirties before I actually realized I wanted to be a writer. I had loved journalism class in high school and would have gone on to college and majored in it, but for the fact -a really big fact- that we had no money and scholarships were not available, even if I‘d have know how to go about getting one. Also an itinerate counselor, hired by the school to judge our abilities, told me I had no talent for anything. He insisted I had to be a housewife. So I did. That was easy, the counselor didn’t know it, but in those days I had a talent for snagging boys and so I got a really good husband in a matter of months after high school graduation.

So what nudged you toward wanting to write?

In June of 1969, I was at a funeral and this woman character popped into my head and I began to create a story around her. I never did more than write a few paragraphs, mostly I just thought about her. Eventually, she went away, but she left with me the desire to write. Not knowing how to start, I took a correspondence course in writing for children and had 3 short stories published. Then I decided to do an article about my dad and I sold that to the Montana magazine. My six siblings were listed in the story, but when the article was printed, the magazine had dropped out one sentence, the sentence that told about 3 of my siblings who live in Montana. The magazine printed a “sorry” in the next issue, but the damage was done. I realized then how vulnerable one is to the written word. Your fault or not, it’s there for all the world to see. I quit writing for a number of years, maybe eight or ten, but the desire to write never went away and I decided to try writing a middle-grade novel. The result was Trapped!, The story of Virginia Reed, a girl with the Donner Party, published in 1995.

Do you know the whole story when you begin?No. I know the main character, and some of the others. I know the time and place, and I have a plot of sorts. But mostly the story just develops as I go along. Sometimes even if I think I know where I’m going with the story, the characters come up with their own ideas and then mine has to change.

Do you know their background, their motivation before they come into the story?
Not always. In fact usually not, I learn about them as I go along. In Ride a Shadowed Trail, I knew the bad guy, knew his name anyway and I knew he hated Mexicans, but I didn’t know why. When he was going to come into the story as a physical presence, where as before he had been only seen in flashbacks, or as an ominous presence, his past history just short of unfolded before me and I quickly wrote it down in my notebook, so if I got sidetracked, as I often do, and couldn’t get back to the story for a few days, or in some cases, weeks, I wouldn’t lose what I had discovered about him.

Do you do a lot of research before you start the story?
Oh, yes. I do tons of it. I don’t really like the start of research, but after I’m in it for a while it takes on a life of its own and hooks me. Eventually, I have to make myself stop and get started on the story. I don’t use everything I research, but I don’t know what will find its way into the story and what won’t. The story evolves from the research and unexpected surprises from the characters involved. Sometimes something, unexpected, comes into the story and I have to do more research. In The Summer of the Crow, it was a pet crow. That crow also gave me the title.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a sequel to Ride a Shadowed Trail. When I finished the story, I did not expect to ever see or hear about Josuha Ryder again, but many of the story’s readers wanted to know what happened next, so I’m back in Josh’s life. I’ve had a hard time getting it written, getting inside Josh’s skin again, but I think now, I’m there. I’ve heard since I started this sequel, which I originally had no intention of writing, that other authors, Louis Lamour and John Searles to mention two, say it’s hard to write a story someone else wants you to write and usually it doesn’t get written. Generally, writers have to write their stories, not a story someone thinks they should write. But this sequel, which lay dormant for so long, has now become a story I want to write.

What are some of your favorite books?
The Yearling, To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, Lonesome Dove, The Glass Castle, are a few of my favorites. My all time favorite movie is Cross Creek, the story of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It’s the only movie I watch every year or so.. I simply adore that movie. I imagine it appeals to me not only because she wrote one of my favorite stories, The Yearling, there, but also because she was so independent and lived alone. Well, she got married at the end, but still I know she kept her independence. I love my family, but also love the solitude of living without interruptions and writing without adhering to someone else’s schedule. If I lived alone, I’d probably eat standing over the kitchen sink and crawl into an unmade bed every night, especially when working on a story, so it’s a good thing that high school counselor told me to get married. J

Anything else?
Just that the publisher raised the price for Ride A Shadowed Trail $5, but recently they set it back to the original price. The online bookstores are still at the raised price, so those looking to buy the book might want to contact me or go online to Publish America and order the book.

An Excerpt:
Josh picked up the long strips of rawhide and began again to work at braiding his reata. They had sat in silence a while, then Pete said something that Josh figured would stick in his mind the rest of his life.

You know, son,” he’d said, “most of us at one time or another rides a shadowed trail. Ain’t no one’s got a clear, unblemished past or family ties they’re always proud of. So your mother worked at a job most of us look down on, but do you know why? Did you know her life? Do you know what shadows lurked back along the trail she’d come up to get where she was?

Josh had had to admit he didn’t, but he wasn’t quite ready to forgive her and with a new rush of shame and anger intertwined, he’d muttered, “I bet she could have done something else.”

Pete had laid a hand on his knee. “I’d slack up some on that rope you’ve got on your mama and dallied around your saddle horn, leastways ‘til you know the shadows in her life. When you know them shadows, then I reckon you can judge.”


Heidiwriter said...

I wish you great success with this novel, Eunice--you deserve it! Interesting how one character won't come to life and another takes over at times...
Good interview.

Eunice Boeve said...

Thanks Paty for giving me space on your website. I do so appreciate it. Eunice