Thursday, September 10, 2009

Linda Ford's Dakota Child Book Review and Author Interview

Linda Ford, who has written over twenty published novels, weaves a story rich in tenderness that depicts the struggles of two “misfits” in 1890s America. Though they see themselves as flawed, Vivian Halliday and Billy Black are willing to lay aside their own desires and dreams to protect those entrusted in their care. 

Young, unwed Vivian is lost in a blizzard with her two-month-old son, Joshua. A huge but kind man rescues them and shelters them in his home until the weather improves. Wary but grateful Vivian is surprised when she realizes he’s Big Billy, a childhood acquaintance, but she panics when his screeching, emotionally unstable mother, dubbed Mad Mrs. Black by taunting town folk, reacts hostilely toward her.

Determined to confront and wed the man who seduced her and fathered her infant, Vivian confesses her sin and guilt to Billy. He agrees to help her by taking her to town to find the man, an act he'd normally shun to avoid reoccurrences of the ridicule he and his mother suffered due to her erratic behavior and his large size. In town Billy and Vivian are dismayed to discover her potential husband-to-be has gone away for an undisclosed period of time. With no place else to go, she and Joshua return home with a reluctant Billy, who knows their presence will upset his mother. His concerns prove true, for Mrs. Black wants Vivian and the baby gone and makes sure everyone knows it. Billy takes on the role of peacemaker but secretly wishes that Vivian and Joshua would stay. And Vivian learns to appreciate Billy and doesn’t want to leave, but she must for Joshua’s sake.

Dakota Child deals with several issues: the guilt, shame, and fear that results from bearing a child out of wedlock, the lack of rights and other difficulties foundling children face, bigotry and cruelty toward people who are “different”, unprincipled men stealing from the innocent, and unforgiveness. Through their trials, our hero and heroine continually turn to the Lord in prayer, and even when Billy offers up a desperate, selfish prayer, his frailty only makes him more precious.

I definitely recommend Dakota Child. It’s a testimony of God's provision and forgiveness, and the power of unconditional love that works to change people’s hearts and lives.

Publisher: Steeple Hill Publication date: Sept 2009

Author Interview:

MAP: I've always had great respect for people who adopt children when they already have a brood of their own. You and your hubby had four homemade children and chose to adopt ten more to fulfill your dream of running an orphanage with at least twelve kids. That must have been quite a challenge. 

LF: Yes. Our adopted children came with lots of baggage that unfortunately did not go away with love, discipline or any other tool we had at our disposal. When several of the kids acted out in weird and awful ways in their teens, my dream seemed more like a nightmare.

MAP: So how did you cope with it?

LF: Interestingly enough, I got invited to a writer's meeting. The group listened to a tape telling how to organize our thoughts into chapters and write a non-fiction book. It all sounded so controllable. I went home and started to write. From the beginning I was hooked because my writing gave me a world to control and kept me relatively sane when the one around me seemed out of control.

MAP: When you started writing fiction, how long before you switched from writing for yourself to making getting published a goal?

LF: I was first published in non-fiction—farm papers, human interest stories—but some of the human interest stories touched my heart and made me remember the joy of fiction. So a few years (the exact number has slipped my sieve of a mind) I tried my hand at fiction.

MAP: What's the easiest part of fiction writing for you?

LF: I could always make up stories in my head, often late at night when I couldn't sleep. I thought everyone did the same thing. To this day I can remember one rancher hero I created tall with a rolling swagger and a smile that didn't end.

MAP: What's your greatest fiction writing challenge?

LF: Getting the story from my head to the paper in some form of structure that will resonate with readers and portray what I see in my head. I have many, many stories where I missed it entirely.

MAP: You've worked through the family challenges of the past. I take it life is a lot calmer these days?

LF: In most ways now but never dull. I share my life with my ever-patient husband (yup, the rancher of my dreams), a paraplegic-double-amputee client for whom I provide personal care, a grown son who lives at home, and a yappy African grey parrot who knows far too many insults. I have an open door policy to my large family, which means special occasion family dinners for twenty or more, visiting grandchildren, crisis counseling (let's talk to Mom about it) and generally sharing the joys and trials of my children's lives. All of which provides me lots of research material for my historical and contemporary books, which have a recurring theme of foreverness, commitment, the power of faith and the joy of family.

MAP: Those themes shine clearly through your books, Linda. Thanks for sharing with us. To find more of Linda's books, go to her website, (FYI, Linda's website also contains some great fiction writing tips. Click on my sidebar link, Linda Ford's Writing Articles, to access them.)

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