All tagged love story

My novel, Little Alice Brings Solace to a Ghost Town, is about two little Indian girls: Little Alice and her sister, Harriet. They are mixed race: half white and half Native American. And their native half is also mixed: Navajo and Hopi. One theme of my story is the dilemma faced by these two sisters: whether to assimilate into the white culture of their beloved Aunt Julia, who has adopted them, or to remain true to their Indian cultures. Little Alice opts to become Christian, learn English and Spanish, and assimilate into the white culture of her aunt. Harriet opts to keep her native religion and language, and remain part of the Hopi culture of her mother. They are fortunate, in that their aunt does not try to force them to go one way or the other—assimilate or not.

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“1847 … that’s when it began,” my elderly Irish-born pastor replied, when I told him that my ancestors immigrated to America from Eire because of the potato famine. After Palm Sunday mass, Monsignor had come into the parish hall and sat down where I was having coffee and doughnuts. Somehow, the conversation led to the greatest tragedy in the history of his homeland.

“Genocide,” he then quietly commented. “That year—1847—saw the most abundant wheat harvest ever. But the English exported it—to feed the British army, and they deliberately left the Irish field workers to either starve or emigrate. The only crop the workers had been allowed to grow in their little gardens was potatoes. But that year, the potatoes turned black and the vines died.  Our island’s population went from eight million to one million. … Genocide. … Tragedy.”

“But Father, good came from it,” I told him. “… at least for my family. … Romance: My famine-exiled great-grandparents met on the boat to New York, fell in love and married as soon as they landed. … So for me, tragedy and romance go together. … I’m writing a novel about it.”

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My stories always have a happy ending. Why is that? Actually, they not only have a happy ending, but they always end, “and they lived happily ever after.” That is, there is no doubt that nothing will happen that will keep the two people in the romance from staying together the rest of their lives … and in love—no matter what!

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  I’ve always liked “Runaway Bride” stories. It’s a genre unto itself. As my wife and I meandered down the winding, narrow canyon drive, I began to imagine a runaway bride, who was lost and running out of gas in one of the many rustic campsites along Oak Creek.

            In this genre—actually a sub-genre within romantic fiction—brides run away for all sorts of reasons. I imagined that the bride in my story was running away from an arranged marriage. I pictured her in a car she had stolen from the gentleman whom she was being forced by her family to marry. She was coming from Texas and going west to California. I saw her ending up in a campsite of a man who was coming from California and going east to Texas.

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In most of my novels, I bring in interracial relationships. Why? First of all, my marriage is such a relationship. I am a white man who is married to a Latina. For young people today, that’s no big deal. But for the older generations, who are the majority and who politically are in control, it still is a big deal—whether they will admit it or not.

            It is hard for a young person today to grasp the idea of going to jail for marrying a person of another race. But until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, over half of the states—and at one time two-thirds of the states—made what was called “miscegenation” a crime, punishable by imprisonment. (See: Loving v. Virginia.) That is, if a white person married a person who was legally non-white, the two parties were subject to criminal punishment and their marriage was not recognized—similar to the situation today for same-sex relationships in some states.

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Suffering from “shell shock,” as they called PTSD in World War I, Billy had gone to New Mexico and married into a Navajo Indian tribe. In 1947, when he died in an automobile accident, he left two Indian granddaughters, Alice and Harriet Landergin. What if Julia went to Gallup next to the Navajo Reservation and brought the two little girls home, to raise as her own?

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The novel is not a war story. It’s a love story and an adult romance. Nadya is a human being who doesn’t even know that she is also an angel. By falling in love with a suicidal veteran, she slowly brings him back home and restores his will to live. She keeps “Joe” from dying. So that now when I remember him, I remember going to his funeral, after “Joe” died an old man, surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

That’s why I wrote this Flying Tiger story.

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Now, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Jack admiring her. She knew that all he could see was her profile, but apparently that was enough. Finally—it was already almost ten and he had been there since six—Jack got up, bent down, and gave Tayla a gentle kiss on her forehead, whispering, “Good night.” This was the only thing he had said in the last four hours! He then went strolling to his car, got in, started the motor and disappeared into the night.

Tayla couldn’t move for another hour, thinking about Jack.

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Her name was Tayla—Tayla Neel. In September of 1959, she lived in the Golden Spread Trailer Park, a refugee camp of next-to-homeless people at the far northeastern corner of Mackenzie, Texas. The snobby crowd at her high school laughingly called her “Trayla Trash.”

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