Research, research. I think it’s the reason I write historical novels. Here are some places that are mentioned in the novel set in San Antonio, Texas, 1901.
Inspirations for the novel – true characters in The Last Bordello (San Antonio in 1901) Opposing forces or unified goals?
For readers, one book closes while another one opens. I suppose this is true for authors as well. However, No Hill for a Stepper is not only my first published book, it is my father’s story. Aside from the story itself, it is a reminder of the two years spent beside him taking notes and recording his comments on a cheap Sony recorder. It is a reminder of the trip we took back to his roots both in conversation as well as physically to Rotan, Ranger, Roby, Sweetwater and Temple, Texas. Although Dad did not live long enough to see the published version, my sister gifted me with a fabulous present. She looked at me and said, “This is a present from Dad and I.”
“Dad,” I asked. “Our Dad?”
And there it was, my favorite photo of Dad sitting on the front porch at our homestead except this time, he was holding a copy of my book in his hand.
After the book was published, I began asking readers to send me pictures of themselves reading my father’s story. Not only did the photos make me feel proud, it made me think of how much my father enjoyed sharing his story with others.
So what’s next? An author’s pen is always close at hand. Meta, one of the central characters in my new book, was the first to introduce herself to me. Other characters have either snuck up behind me and tapped me gently on the shoulder or have introduced themselves quite spontaneously, yelling “here I am! Put ME in your new book.” Each time I sit down to write, I am eager to learn what they will do or say next. I have little control over these characters.
It is 1910. There is a farm girl who lives in a German community outside of Fredericksburg. There is a prostitute in a bordello in San Antonio, a thirteen-year-old newspaper boy with a rolled cigarette in his mouth and a wise great aunt. There is the madam of the bordello with her trusty assistant who is laced with spice and grit, and a young man with a deep scar across his face. There are strangers and connections. There is murder. There is innocence and guilt. There are lies and deceit. There is only one truth.
THAT is what is next.
But No Hill for a Stepper? It rests comfortably, open, in the center of my chest.
The following is from a first place winner in the “No Hill for a Stepper” essay contest.
“I was blessed with the name of Brandy De La Cruz. For starters, though I was born in Perryton, Texas, I was raised in Oklahoma. After an unexpected tragedy, I was encouraged to move to good ol’ Rotan, Texas to reside with my aunt, Aida. Being the “new kid” in this small town was a life-alternating experience. As a senior in high school, my main goals include establishing Christ-centered relationships, preventing further damage of my GPA, and pursuing a career in the medical field. My mother was the strongest woman I knew and will forever be my hero. I believe her personal experience with domestic violence will prevent me from making the mistakes she once did.”
Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. As a family, there are many precautions that can be taken to prevent these kind of incidents from happening. In this essay, I will provide my personal account of domestic violence, the negative impact violence has on children, and the effective way to prevent such violence.
I always thought my childhood was average. I had a loving mother who knew how to raise her voice when necessary, a beautiful brother that often annoyed me to an unreasonable extent, and a step-dad that was nothing but kind to two children that did not belong to him. The trouble started with a subtle raising of the voice. This progressed to yelling. It was not long until the man I called “dad” placed his hands on my angelic mother. Tears welled up in my eyes as my baby brother tried his hardest to console his older sister. This was not suppose to happen to my mom and dad. This should not have been a part of my “average” childhood. It took many years for my mother to find the courage to make a phone call to the police. This finally resolved the issue that tore my family apart. My stepfather was placed in prison and the three of us moved far away to start a knew life.
Though the man was gone, the violence left a scar on my family forever. It was apparent in my mother’s attempts to establish relationships, my brother’s frequent misbehavior, and my desperate attempts to avoid the fate my mother endured. Domestic violence can definitely alter a child. As a school-age child, it puts them at a significant risk for delinquency, substance abuse, school drop-out, and difficulties in their own relationships. Younger children often experience feelings of guilt and anxiety. This leads them to express their feelings through behavioral means. The children can become withdrawn and non-verbal. They may also experience concentration problems and sleeping difficulties.
The only way to prevent domestic violence is to avoid abusive relationships entirely. The key to refraining from these affiliations is to become familiar with the warning signs of a possible batterer. Cues are present in the subject’s personality. These may include, but are not limited to, emotional abuse, threats of violence, jealousy, and an abusive past. Though many people consider abusive relationships to contain merely physical violence, sexual abuse and psychological battering are also common elements in domestic violence. If you are in an abusive relationship, you must get out, stay out, and seek help.
Because my mother was a survivor of domestic violence, I feel it is necessary to do whatever is in my power to assist in the prevention of abusive relationships. This includes presenting my personal experience of domestic violence, showing how children are effected, and explaining how it can be prevented. Though it took a few years, my mom finally realized that her relationship was no hill for a stepper; it was easily overcame once she set her mind to it.