Intersection Column | The Day That Changed It All
by Rachel Fordham
Every book has a catalyst, a seed that grows into a vibrant tree (hopefully, worth reading). My latest novel, Where the Road Bends, began when I was scouring historical documents in search of inspiration. I was reminded, like always, that history is fascinating! One detail that stuck out was the fact that people sewed money into their clothes when traveling by train or stagecoach, in hopes that if they were robbed, they would not lose their money. Of course, I began the classic author what if game? What would happen if someone found someone else’s clothes and in them found a fortune? What if one simple wardrobe change affected the course of a lifetime? There was my seed!
In the end, I didn’t write about money sewn into clothes. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we think we’re planting one type of seed, and we end up discovering it was in fact a different variety? My story that began one way went in a different direction, but it contained the original idea that someone’s life can be completely altered by one decision (or event), on one day.
Don’t we all have those moments where we know things could have gone very differently if not for a choice?
I can think of a great many from my own life.
My husband asked me to go out with him after a college class. I said, “No, I’m busy this weekend.”
He said, “That’s okay, the concert is tonight.” (It was a Thursday.)
I stumbled over my words. I had no good response (It was awkward, like a meet-cute in a novel). I knew he was a nice guy, I just didn’t think I wanted to date anyone. But I ended up saying yes. That one date led to many others, and now 18 years later we’re still going strong. That one yes was the best yes!
Another moment that changed my life was when one of my son’s was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy. The medical crisis that led to diagnosis was frantic and scary and stole my life-is-so-good innocence. And then the diagnosis shattered me and rebuilt me as a different version of myself, never again to be the same. (He’s doing well, for those curious.)
I could tell you many more moments, but I’ll keep it to just one. I had recently had a baby, I was busy and overworked, but hungry for a creative outlet. My husband, in his loving way, said, “You read so much, why don’t you write a book?” And I did! And a new part of myself came alive.
What moments in your life were pivotal, life-changing moments? Change so often comes slowly; but on occasion, it’s sudden and stark, and you can see exactly where your road divided.
I wrote Where the Road Bends at the start of the pandemic, when one germ was changing everything and our days weren’t looking like we expected at all. In many ways, I resonated with my characters and their wrestling with the unexpected, unpredictable, life-changing nature of their lives. Little did my family or my characters know exactly how those life-changing moments would affect them; but we try to live so that when we look back, we know we did the best with the unexpected.
When one day, one event, one decision changes what you know, just think, one day it might be a story worth telling!
About the Author
Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs, Yours Truly, Thomas, and A Life Once Dreamed. Fans expect stories with heart and she delivers, diving deep into the human experience and tugging at readers’ emotions. She loves connecting with people, traveling to new places, and daydreaming about future projects that will have sigh-worthy endings and memorable characters. She is a busy mom, raising both biological and foster children (a cause she feels passionate about). She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.
About the Book
As Norah King surveys her family land in Iowa in 1880, she is acutely aware that it is all she has left, and she will do everything in her power to save it—even if that means marrying a man she hardly knows. Days before her wedding, Norah discovers an injured man on her property. Her sense of duty compels her to take him in and nurse him back to health. Little does she realize just how much this act of kindness will complicate her life and threaten the future she's planned.
Did You Know?
The Battle of the Alamo took place in 1836. Though I absolutely love American history, I didn’t know much about the Alamo. As I did my research for my latest novel, I came across mention of a ring that’s in the museum at the Alamo today. It’s a cat’s eye ring that’s very unusual and has an interesting background.
Cat’s eye is an optical illusion in a stone that makes it appear like a band of light is running from the top of the stone to the bottom. This thin strip resembles a cat’s eye when they are in bright light.
We don’t know how William Travis, the de facto commander of the Alamo, came into possession of the ring, but the legend states that, just before the battle began, he slipped the ring onto a piece of string and tied it around the neck of 14-month-old Angelina Dickinson, the daughter of one of the Alamo defenders.
Travis asked that the ring make it to his son, Charles, but it never did. Angelina gave it to her husband, a Civil War veteran, who presented it to his commander. The ring was passed through that family, who donated it to the museum in 1955.
If you ever visit the Alamo, be sure to stop and take a look at the ring in its display case. The black stone is set in a gold band and is nestled between Davy Crockett’s knife and William Travis’s poetry book.
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