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Spoiler alert! Read this after you've read Joy for Mourning.

Joy for Mourning - Author's Note

A long time ago, 2010 to be precise, I first developed and introduced Joshua Harrison as a character. When he failed to win Hannah’s heart in A Dream Unfolding, my first novel, the idea for this story started to develop. Unfortunately, Joshua’s story did not fit with the theme of Prescott Pioneers, so I set my ideas aside and focused on other stories.

When I created Grace Talbert’s character in Hidden Prospects, I knew I eventually wanted her to be a leading lady and have her own story. I always pictured her with a much older man.

As I started to plan the Desert Manna series, a match between Joshua and Grace was destined. I had written Joshua’s rich back story of unrequited love with Rachel Feagan years ago. The idea to make Joshua a never-have-been-married single dad came to me 2021. I’m so glad his character developed in the way that he did.

In so many romance novels, it seems like the topic of unrequited love is rarely told. I understand why. The reader wants a happy ending with two people who love each other. But in real life, unrequited love is so painful. It shapes the way we interact with people we date or even end up marrying. This was a big motivating factor for me in developing Joshua’s character. He needed to display what happens in a man’s heart when he feels rejected not just once, but multiple times. No matter how confident a person appears on the outside, the deep wounds of rejection create self-doubt and insecurity. This is Joshua’s story.

In an early version of Beauty for Ashes (book 1), I had written some Tolkepaya characters as an antagonist for Perry Quinn. I did a lot of research about the Yavapai and their subtribe called Tolkepaya. The stories in Joy for Mourning about the “Yuman-Apache” came out of that research. The Tolkepaya were called “Apache” or “Yuman-Apache” by the whites even though they were a distinctly different group of people from the Apache. The battle scene in Joy for Mourning came out of that research. The dates may not be exact, but sometime in September of 1872, the Tolkepaya and Yavapai attacked General Crook and his men at Camp Date Creek. They were not successful in their uprising and showed up to the reservation days later seeking asylum from Crook. They were granted it.

Perhaps one day I will write the story of the Tolkepaya characters. But for now, know that I carefully researched what really happened from both their perspective and the perspective of the whites. It was so much fun to write Grace as an unconventional champion for their cause. There were many real whites in history who were advocates for the native tribes of Arizona.

You might question my decision to include Joshua’s torture by the Indians. This was based on a firsthand account from some Irish settlers who settled in the Gila River Basin. They were tormented by the real Apache. A woman who was widowed recounted her story of how the Indians left dead animals on her doorstep or body parts of dead people. That’s where the inspiration for Joshua’s torture and Rachel’s death came from.

In the history of Arizona, great atrocities were committed by whites, Indians, and Mexicans. No one is innocent and no one is all evil either. Each people group had their motivations and justifications for the actions they took.

Anyway, I tried to handle this difficult topic in a fair way through the characters of Grace and Joshua.

I hope that you enjoyed reading their story.

Karen Baney

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