Spoiler alert! Read this after you've read The Resourceful Stockman.
The Resourceful Stockman - Author's Note
When I initially mapped out the Colter Sons Series, there was no Grady Thatcher. I intended book 4 to be Deacon’s story alone. Yet, once I introduced Grady’s character in book 1 and proclaimed him as an instant friend to Deacon, I knew there was no possible way to tell Deacon’s story without telling Grady’s.
In the end, I was very pleased with the way their friendship provided such rich material. In some ways, I imagined their friendship much like that of David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel. In other ways, their friendship was reminiscent of the bond between men who fight in battle together.
How did I arrive at the idea of livestock inspectors? It was a bizarre journey to get there. I originally wanted to make them Arizona Rangers, but my timeline was about eight years before the Rangers were formed, and I hate claiming “creative liberty” in situations like that.
Then I came across a snippet in a book about the territorial legislatures of Arizona from the 1860’s to 1912. In 1887, the Stock and Sanitary Law was passed and ratified by Governor Zulick. This was the catalyst for forming the Livestock Sanitary Commission, which included the appointment of a Veterinary Surgeon General. On March 19, 1891, the first livestock inspectors were appointed for each county in Arizona. Those real dates fit perfectly into my timeline. Also, the responsibilities of the original livestock inspectors were twofold: monitor for disease and enforce brand registration. This also fit with Grady and Deacon’s veterinary backgrounds.
During my research, I came across Calling the Brands by Monte McCord. This was a great resource that helped me understand branding rules, how to read a brand, and why livestock inspectors were a critical component to civilizing the West. That book also detailed how livestock inspectors alone could not curtail rustling. Despite all their hard work, very few rustlers were ever prosecuted. Like you, I would not have been happy with anything less than the capture and prosecution of the rustlers that killed Grady’s parents, so that’s what I wrote, even though it would have been very unlikely to happen in real life.
Because I built up Deacon and Grady’s friendship throughout the series, I really thought it would be fun if they fell in love with sisters, so they would at least become brothers-in-law.
Though much of the Harper’s childhood is heartbreaking, it was more common in the Wild West than one might expect. Deadbeat parents, abusive parents, and molesters have walked the earth for millennia. Good, kind-hearted people deal with the fallout of this in their own lives. I write about these things because I want to encourage those who have been victims of such atrocities that there is hope for a new life, a different life, full of healing.
Deacon’s odd behavior is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. My husband and I often ask the question: How did people back then cope with _____? Mental illness, cancer, disorders, and the like. I wanted to explore how a godly man might cope with his weaknesses which he felt helpless to control. Though it was a source of pain in his life, it also came with some gifts, which he did acknowledge.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Deacon and Lilian’s story along with the bonus story of Grady and Justine. Read Preston’s story in: The Restless Wrangler (Colter Sons Book 5).