Dave and Mary have been married for 10 years, and I used the way marriage has been for me (20 years now) as a basis for a realistic view of marriage. Your average day isn’t going to be the drastic ups and downs of how things seem when you first fall in love and wondering if the other person loves you back or not. After you’ve been married for a while, you settle into a routine, and things have a natural flow to them. The love is still there, and deeper, and you really do feel like your spouse is an extension of you.
People had a mixture of thoughts on this book when I announced I was writing it. Half of the people were excited, and the other half were like, “Not another Dave and Mary story. Haven’t you already done two?” But I always felt they had a trilogy to write, and the series would not have been complete without it.
The original plot idea came to me in 2013. It was much different from the way things turned out to be. Originally, Dave was supposed to injure his leg and be unable to do any work. That was the only part that stayed the same. One of Mary’s brother-in-laws (whom I introduced in To Have and To Hold) was Bert. I don’t know how many people remember him, but he drank a lot and would pretend to shoot himself because he was miserable in his marriage to Mary’s sister. Anyway, Mary’s sister was going to die, and Bert was going to leave Maine with his son to make a new life in Omaha. He was to spend time with Dave and Mary while he figured out what to do, and as payment for staying there, he was to do the chores around the place that Dave usually did. Anyway, long story short, Dave was supposed to worry that Bert and Mary were getting along too well, and Dave was also supposed to have trouble maintaining an erection and such. There was also a part in the story where Dave was supposed to fix the fence in the pouring rain to stop the cows from escaping. (This was when everyone was gone.) As a result, he was supposed to get seriously ill and almost die. As you can see, this was intended to be a serious story. However, Dave didn’t care for that plot, so I opted to go in a completely different direction, and the story ended up being light-hearted comedy instead. Dave is much happier with this version.
Also, here was the original cover I had planned. (Thankfully, I never used it.)
The things that happen with the kids like when Rachel pushed Adam to get him away from the spilled milk, the impatience Isaac had over the cornstalks not growing fast enough, and Rachel forgetting to tell Isaac not to go to the barn while Mary talked to Dave are all incidents based on real life with some minor tweaks.
The purpose of the scenes when all of the Larsons are together in any Larson book is to give an update on how the family is all doing. I know there’s a lot of people to keep track of, but this is for the benefit of people who have been reading my books over the years. They aren’t necessarily important to the plot.
When Tom throws the roll at Joel, it’s my reference to when Joel threw the biscuit at him in The Marriage Agreement. (Unlike Joel, though, Tom wasn’t able to hit him.) Sometimes I like to draw on something from another book I’ve already done for fun. Another example, Joel’s reluctance to do any laundry or cleaning stalls was a reference to how he was in Eye of the Beholder when he used every excuse possible to get out of the chores.
I thought it would be nice to show the transition Richard and Amanda went through in living in the small apartment and getting their first modest home (in Wagon Trail Bride) to when they became wealthy, so I chose that to replace the original plot with Bert in it. At the time, I didn’t know what I would do with it. Thankfully, while I was writing the scene where Dave and Mary were eating at his parents, the idea of Dave getting jealous over Isaac’s sudden admiration for Richard came to me. I was so relieved I nearly jumped for joy because I felt like I was starting to write the book with no sense of direction.
During the writing of the book, I switched the two horses (Jack and Susannah) around so much that it took several read throughs to get them right. In one scene, Jack was the horse Dave been on when he fell, and in others, the horse was Susannah. I also kept changing the position of where Jack was at after Dave fell off of him. One time, he was standing close by, and at another time, he was near the barn. The whole thing with the horses was just crazy.
Mary could never sell the apple pie recipe. I did fiddle with the idea of having a bad storm ruin half the crops, but I can’t think of Mary without her apple pie, so she kept telling Maureen and Connie no.
This is a side note that has nothing to do with this story, but Jacob Larson (the kid Mary and Dave had after Adam) took over Ralph Lindon’s mercantile when he grew up. I like the idea of doing Adam’s and Jacob’s stories, but I don’t know when I’ll get to them.