This is Book 3 in the Chance at Love Series. Here are the books in order:
1. Originally, The Accidental Mail Order Bride was supposed to be the last book in the series. I wasn’t originally going to write about Carl, but there was a scene where Abe and Carl got into a fight, and I realized Carl wasn’t really as bad as he appeared at first. I got a glimpse into his life and knew he felt as betrayed by their father as Abe did. This made me feel sympathetic toward him, and I wanted to write his book. But I couldn’t write his book until I got rid of his wife (Lydia). That’s why she was murdered in Book 2. But I didn’t have time to wrap about the murder in Book 2. I had to extend that subplot through Book 3 in order to make way for Book 4. That’s why I spent significant time in Book 3 on Carl.
2. Allie, the heroine of this book, was originally slotted to be the heroine in Book 2, but I couldn’t come up with a good plot for that story if I used her. So I went with the plan to delay her arrival and gave the book a heroine who wasn’t the one the hero was expecting. Originally, Allie was supposed to marry Eric, and Caroline was supposed to marry Travis.
3. The beauty and beast trope has been used many times over the course of written history. The earliest account in written literature that I’m aware of is the Greek myth of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) and Hephaestus (the deformed god of craftsmanship). The version I read when I was in high school was the one where Aphrodite had her pick of any god she wanted to marry. She wasn’t impressed with the gods who glorified themselves and their beauty (like Apollo and Ares were doing), but she came across Hephaestus who didn’t feel worthy of her. She was impressed with his humility and chose him. He might not have had outward beauty, but he had inward beauty as well. There are other versions of this myth, of course, but that’s the one that most appealed to me. Since then, I have been fascinated with this specific plot in storytelling. This is a very popular trope in fiction. I chose to use this trope for this book. I’ve also used it in Eye of the Beholder (except in there the heroine was the unattractive one). I used it in The Marriage Contract. The hero in that book had a mask that was my nod to the Phantom of the Opera since the phantom wore a mask to hide his face. I’m also currently using this trope in my current work-in-progress titled Nobody’s Fool. In Nobody’s Fool, the hero is more geeky than ugly or scarred. As you can tell, this is just a setup I really love, so I use it if there’s a storyline that appeals to me.
4. I didn’t start up with the idea of Travis being scarred when I started Book 1. It’s just that when Abe went out to get the metal scraps from him, something in my creative brain gave me the image of what Travis looked like, so I went with it. Most of the time, I don’t know what any character is going to look like until I write the scene they appear in. My mind will present the image of the character (hair color, body type, height) within a second. The image often doesn’t match what’s on the cover, but since it’s very difficult to find a picture of a person that fits what is in my mind with the right time period clothing, I just have whatever fits best for the cover while keeping my own image of the character in mind while I write the story. In this case, I didn’t even bother trying to put a “Travis” type on the cover because people are not attracted to romance covers that have imperfect people on them.
5. Some of the townsfolk saw Travis as a monster. This idea was inspired by To Kill a Mocking Bird. I didn’t read the book, but I watched the movie with my mom several times during childhood. In that movie, the kids were scared of Boo Radley and came up with stuff he did that was evil. But when we get to the end of the movie, we realize Boo wasn’t the monster the kids made him out to be. So the rumors circulating through town about Travis having an extra eye, having strange origins, and so on had its roots in the way Boo was thought of in that movie.
6. When Allie was cleaning up the cottage, I kept thinking of the Snow White cartoon in the version Disney made. All that was missing were her singing while the animals helped her clean. I couldn’t put that in since this isn’t a fantasy, but the scene did play out in my mind.
7. I always felt that Travis and Carl were kindred spirits. They understood each other better than anyone else (except for their wives) did. I enjoyed the dynamic between them. What others couldn’t tell them, they could tell each other. This was a tough-love situation, and they matured because of it.