When I was a little girl living in Queens, NY, I desperately wanted a pet. We were too poor for one, so my parents gave me brothers. Being a resilient child, I readjusted my perspective on life and decided it would be cool (before this word meant something other than a drop in temperature and a reason for my mother to put a sweater on me) to have a huge family. Again, poverty intervened and curtailed my plans to be the oldest sibling in a dynasty. Two brothers was all I was getting.
Once again, I readjusted, finding solace in an imagination I didn’t even realize was fertile. To me, it was just the way things were. You didn’t like something, think your way into something else. So, at the age of eleven, I began spinning the saga of Anna Marie Anders, Adventurous Girl. The adventure here was that Anna Marie, firstborn of large a pioneering family, crossed the wide country in a covered wagon filled to capacity with, yes, you guessed it, siblings. Siblings who grew and were eventually left to settle in different parts of the country as the journey continued all the way to California (prophetically where I eventually wound up living). I took Anna Marie through 23 siblings—pity the poor mother—and from the age of sixteen to her death decades later. I tied up events neatly by having her husband swiftly pine away and die two weeks later, calling for his “Adventurous Girl.” (Looking back, I realize now that was an unwitting case of plagiarism inasmuch as I had earlier read the biography of Annie Oakley, otherwise known to a few as Phoebe Ann Mosey, whose husband, at least in the book, was said to have died two weeks after she passed away, calling for his little sharpshooter.
That was the beginning of my love affair with large families. Over the years, as a writer, I have come up with regular sized families here and there, such as THE CUTLERS OF THE SHADY LADY RANCH (for Silhouette’s Yours Truly line), four brothers and a sister who took the reader through different stories about life in Montana. There were The Sinclairs, my first family in the Romantic Suspense line (then known as Intimate Moments). I’d do each story and then, like a mama bird shoving her babies out of the family nest, I’d watch them leave and fly away. End of saga.
Until I began writing about the Cavanaughs.
The Cavanaughs began as a five book series, the five
adult children of a retired chief of police, Andrew Cavanaugh. The five were all on the police force and woven through all five books was Andrew’s dogged determination to find the missing wife that everyone else presumed was not just missing, but dead. Andrew found his wife and all his children found their soul mates as well. End of saga—except I just couldn’t let go. I really liked this family too much. So, with an eye out to the future, I’d introduced Andrew’s younger brother, Brian, as well as mentioning his late brother, Mike. Both of the men had families. The rest is mini-history. And now, once again, we appear to be almost at the end. This month, CAVANAUGH JUDGMENT is on the stands. After that, I have one more Cavanaugh sibling waiting for his story to unfold. After that, the saga will finally be over.
Or will it? Anna Marie Anders would have been greatly disappointed if I didn’t have one trick left up my sleeve . . .