Thursday, August 13, 2015

Waking in Tombstone by Marilyn Brown --review and author interview

Waking in Tombstone

As an Arizona history sponge, I was delighted to find Marilyn Brown’s latest historical fiction novel, Waking in Tombstone. Read my review of the novel, and then read through the author interview with Marilyn.

Waking in Tombstone begins after the gunfight at the OK Corral. I wondered how a story about this legendary event could be told after the fact, but Brown pulls it off very effectively. If you’re looking for the particulars surrounding the deadly conflict between the Earp brothers, Doc Holiday, and several outlaw cowboys, you’ll find them all here, along with Tombstone’s history for the next six months.

Dressed in boy’s overalls, Libby Campbell escapes her oppressive employer in Kansas City—but his attorney, Mr. Grenville, is close on her trail. At the train station, she is fortunate enough to meet a preacher named Wendall Cotter, who becomes her protector and traveling companion.

On a whim, Libby tells Cotter she is going to Tombstone. It just so happens that is his destination—and Mr. Grenville’s. After a lengthy train ride and taking the last few miles by stagecoach, Libby peers out the window to see the booming mining town rise from the middle of a scorched desert.

Another passenger, a colorfully dressed woman named Marcella Baron, befriends Libby and offers her a room to board at what turns out to be a brothel. Over time, Libby comes to see the good in each of the girls there. Choosing not to work in their profession, she instead finds a job in a respectable saloon. She meets the Earps, witnesses the murder of Morgan Earp, and interacts with several other historical characters of the period.

Waking in Tombstone will captivate you until the end, give you a glimpse of the American Wild West, and keep you confused about who is the good guy. Since I’m a romantic, I appreciated the touch of romance in the story, though I would have liked to see the relationship blossom a little more. I guess that leaves Waking in Tombstone wide open for a sequel.

JOAN: Hi, Marilyn! Please tell us why you have chosen the genres you write.

MARILYN: Early in my life, a lover of reading, I saw a great need for INTERESTING stories that are ACCURATE about the LDS culture and the "untold West." Waking in Tombstone isn't about LDS culture. But I did get the Book of Mormon in there, and I was able to tell the story of the "Blue Lady." 

JOAN: Why did you choose to write about Tombstone? Have you been there?

MARILYN: Yes, I've been to Tombstone, (I love Arizona history!) and I looked for a "novel" and couldn't find an interesting one that would put me in the middle of that time. I loved Tombstone. It made me feel a part of the West. That's why I wrote this story. 

There is one more huge factor. When I discovered Endicott Peabody (Cotter) and found him to be such a good man, I knew I wanted to make him a hero. No one had focused on him before. I like true heroes of the West, which is why I mostly write about the Mormon pioneers. (Amazing.) Peabody is like our Mormon pioneers. I honor him for all he achieved. 

JOAN: What does "Waking" in the title mean to you?

MARILYN: By admiring "Cotter," Libby awoke to the goodness of his life and was able to begin a good life of her own.

JOAN: Do you have more novels coming out in the near future?

MARILYN: The Accidental Goodbye about the Mercur mining town comes out in November. My next novel is titled Black Canary and is about the coal mines in Carbon County, Utah. I also want to write about a young couple who survives World War II. 

JOAN:  What is something you don’t mind sharing with your readers that they might not know about you? 

MARILYN: My husband and I served an LDS mission doing computer records operations for indexers. In our last month there, I fell and broke three ribs. (Never had another broken bone and I'm almost 77!) So I guess I'm a klutz. (Ha!) I'm well now, though, so I don't have an excuse to loll around and get waited on.

JOAN:  So glad you recovered! What is your family like?--husband, cats, grandkids? 

MARILYN: After teaching English and achieving a BYU master's degree and a U of U MFA in creative writing, I settled down with a widower who had five children ages 1-12. It was a second marriage. My only biological daughter is in graphics design at Salem State University in Massachusetts. Almost all of these people we love have grown up. So we raised six kids, and now have sixteen grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Bill Brown, my excellent real estate broker husband found seven acres in Hobble Creek Canyon where almost every day we see the deer who eat off of our apple tree. We also get to see our two cats, our ducks, muskrats, raccoons, an occasional bear and cougar, and  a beautiful crippled swan who came to eat the algae out of our pond. And at family reunion time the grandkids maneuver the kyaks in the pond and row across to say hello to the swan who doesn't mind at all. His name is Oscar.  

Please learn more about Marilyn Brown by visiting her blog.
Buy Waking in Tombstone at Amazon and Deseret Book.

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