“What if?” and the Mountain Man – Suzanne Ferrell

Writers are asked all the time, “Where do you come up with your ideas?” Of course the smart-aleck in me wants to reply, “OH, you know, the big book of ideas.” But the wiser self always wins out and I tell them the “what-if?” game I play.

In Cantrell’s Bride I played the “what-if” game. What-if a woman came to Colorado to be a mail-order bride? What-if she was hiding from someone? What-if it was a murderer of a U.S. Senator? What-if her new husband had a friend who was a mountain man who helped save her from the murderer?

That’s when Micah Turner walked onto the page. Micah is the hero of Turner’s Vision, my second American historical romance just released. He’s big. He’s blond. He’s from Georgia, so he has a lovely southern accent and believes in honor above all else.

I fell in love with the movie Jeremiah Johnson when I was a teen. Honestly, has anyone ever looked so sexily shaggy as Robert Redford did in that role? Of course, the fact that I researched Jim Bridger the same year for a history project might’ve had something to do with my fascination with Johnson in that movie. Something about a man who wanted to travel into the wilderness to carve out their own world and live how they wanted, appealed to me.Cantrell-FRONT

Now, because of that paper I wrote I knew Jim Bridger had died in 1881, and that at the age of 77 was one of the last living mountain men. This was a problem, because that was the year I set up my first book in which Micah appears. Taking literary license let me go ahead and make Micah a latter day mountain man. He would’ve missed the boom days of trapping.

The next problem I had was, if Micah wasn’t one of the original mountain men why would he choose to live in the mountains, isolated from almost everyone but his old trapping partner? Both men served in the Civil War and came west afterward. They’d started trapping and tried their hands at mining. Nathan Cantrell went on to start a farm, but Micah retreated further into the mountains. Why?

What-if something in his past haunted him? If so, why would he leave his mountain sanctuary and head east?

What-if Micah has the gift of premonition? What-if those premonitions were accompanied by visions if it pertained to someone close to him? What if in Cantrell’s Bride, he learns there is a conspiracy much larger than the murder of a senator? What if one of the visions is of a much-loved sister in trouble? What if another vision was of a woman he’d never met, but was investigating the murder conspiracy?

Now, I had my mountain man coming out of his comfort zone to rescue two women. Sort of “a fish out of water” story.

Turner's VisionHis visions of the future brought them together…

Micah Turner’s visions have brought him down from his Colorado mountain refuge to the nation’s capital in search of his lost sister. Her disappearance may have something to do with the murder of a senator and a beautiful woman who is also haunting his visions.

Claudia Davis spent most of her life in fear. Now she has the chance to put her past behind her and help discover who is behind the senator’s murder. When a giant man approaches her one night with a letter from her friend who’d witnessed the murder she must decide if she can put her fears aside and trust the stranger.

As the pair work together to solve the murder they discover a deeper plot, one that has its roots buried in Micah’s past. Can they fight for justice and their love? Or will Micah’s visions of blood and death be fulfilled?

Not only does Micah’s past drive him out of the mountains to Washington D.C., but eventually back to the Rocky Mountains, where he discovers that sometimes dealing with betrayal and guilt in your past is the only way to have a future.
[Find out more at http://suzanneferrell.com/books/turners-vision/ ]

What-if you had to leave your home and travel into the wilderness, would you survive? Do you like “fish out of water” stories?


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51 thoughts on ““What if?” and the Mountain Man – Suzanne Ferrell”

  1. I wanted to thank Tracy and all the ladies here at Petticoats & Pistols for hosting me today. I love lurking here and reading all the great posts. Feeds my American historical and westerns addiction!

    Please let me clarify something. At the time I wrote the blog the plan was to have TURNER’S VISION published as an ebook today. However, due to the flu hitting my editor, we’ve had to move the release back to later this week.

  2. Hi Suz

    Oh doing the happy dance I am so looking forward to this one woohoo 🙂

    I love fish out of water stories and I know I am going to love this one and as for me I am not sure I would make it in a wilderness zone I like my comforts

    Have Fun

  3. I love to read about how authors come up with their ideas – makes me appreciate their stories so much more. My idea of traveling into the wilderness is staying a hotel without a bar or room service. So, I probably wouldn’t survive long.

    • Hello Alisa!

      Inspiration does hit authors at the oddest times. My friend Jaye Wells tells the story of this line popping into her head as she was driving down the highway. “Digging graves is hell on a manicure…” She had to pull over and immediately write it down. It became the first line of her very successful Sabina Kane, urban fantasy series.

      LOL I love your idea of traveling in the wilderness. It’s mine, too!

  4. I love your “What-if” questions! It’s a creative way to come up with new stories. I look forward to reading some of your books someday. 🙂

    • Hello, Faith!

      The “What-if” game also helps when I get stuck and not sure which way my characters should go. I usually try using the “what-if” to send them in the worst directions possible. Often I have to weed out the most bizarre paths and come up with something they’d actually do, but hate doing.

      I do hope you’ll take a chance on the books. I’d start with Cantrell’s Bride. Laura and Nathan are such dear characters and I’ve always loved their story. And of course that leads us to Micah and Claudia’s meeting.

    • Hello Janine,

      I would become a vegetarian, that’s for sure! Not sure I could kill an animal to eat, but I’m pretty sure I could forage for greens!

      Now take away my wifi? Yeah, that might kill me! 🙂

  5. I love What If moments, It gets a person’s creative juices flowing. Some call it speculating but I like the term What If.

    I’ve never been comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone, but I have had to do it on occasion and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it wasn’t pleasant either.

    I would love to win a copy of your book. It sounds like a wonderful read!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    • Hello, Cindy!

      One of my favorite “what-if” games is…what if I won the lottery? What would I do with the money? This is a safe game for me as I never play the lottery, but great fun to imagine the possibilities! 🙂

      Stepping out of our comfort zones can be fun…for a short time, huh?

  6. Good morning, Suzanne, and welcome to The Junction! We’re so happy you could join us.

    I also use the What if? when I’m writing. Sometimes the ideas are a lttle far fetched, but often just asking opens me to new possibilities in my story.

  7. I enjoy “fish out of water” stories and am intrigued by this one. It sounds like a great story! I loved reading about your “what ifs”. Thank you for sharing this post and giveaway!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

    • Hello, Britney!

      One of the things I love about the “what-if” game is that it opens up possibilities I’d never considered happening before I asked that question. Often it leads to new twists and turns in the book.

  8. Robert Redford was great in that role, but he’s great in every roll he’s ever played. I so remember the scene when he found his Indian wife dead–the rage and the pain. You picked a great time period to write about. I attended a modern day Rendezvou and shot my first gun – can’t think of what you call it — that uses powder and you ram it inside the barrel. I was surprised that it didn’t send me flying backwards. Happy writing.

    • Hello, Chelley!

      Yes, Robert Redford pretty much is great in all the roles he plays, although I loved him in the Jeremiah Johnson and the Sting roles the best. 🙂 But then, I was a very impressionable young teen at the time.

      How heavy was that gun? I’ve held some original Colts and OMG! those things are heavy!

  9. Hi Suzanne! Welcome to the Junction. We’re thrilled to have you visit. What an interesting subject. It takes a special kind of guy to be a mountain man. It would be a lonely life for sure. But I can relate to that because I’m reclusive myself. Sometimes I go for days without speaking to anyone. The thing I would miss would be a grocery store. But back to the subject. I loved Jeremiah Johnson also. In the summer I watch the series Mountain Men on the History Channel. That lifestyle mesmerizes me. So very simple.

    Congrats on your new release! Great cover. He looks like a mountain man. The blurb hooked me. Wishing you much success.

    Thank you for coming. Visit again sometime.

    • Hello, Linda!

      Thanks for having me again. I love visiting here at the Junction.

      I had a great aunt who lived alone on the side of a mountain in Eastern Tennessee’s Blue Ridge. She still had an outhouse and a coal burning stove. She was as close to a “mountain woman” as I think I’ve ever been. Very independent. Grew her own food and only went to town once a month when my mom’s sisters would drive up and take her.

      I do love that cover. When we were deciding how to incorporate the elements of the story into it, I told my designer…first and foremost it’s a romance. And then I told her Chis Helmsworth is as close a description as I can give you for the hero. 🙂

  10. Hello Helen!

    You’ve been waiting quite a few years for Turner’s Vision, I know. So glad I get to bring Micah and Claudia’s story to you!

    As fascinated as I am by living in the extreme like the mountain men did, I’m like you and enjoy my comforts too much. 🙂

  11. Hey Suzanne! I followed the trail of petticoats here to this great blog about Turner’s Vision…haven’t we had that talk about keeping your underskirts on?? Hmmmm?

    Anyway, you know I love your writing and I love Western/Civil War stories! Can’t wait to read this!

    • LOL, Joanie!! I do try to keep my undergarments in their propler places, but you know…so many petticoats, so little time. 🙂

      Love your writing, too! Especially our new Irish paranormal series. OMG!!

  12. Hey Suzanne! I followed the trail of petticoats to this great post about Turner’s Vision! Haven’t we had that talk about keeping your underskirts on? Hmmmm??? Propriety ma’m….

    You know I love your writing and I love Western/Civil War settings. Can’t wait to read this!

  13. Loved the post, Suzanne. I do like fish out of water stories because they show how clever and ingenious hero or heroine can be. That said, I’d probably die in the wilderness. I have NO skills in that arena.

    • Hey, Jo!

      While I took Micah out of his element in the mountains, he manages to maneuver his life through the city and the mystery there quite well. But he sure does hate wearing a suit.

      I know this much about starting a fire, Jo…don’t use wet or green wood. That’s it!

  14. Hi Suzanne – welcome to the junction! I agree, “What if” is such a powerful tool for a writer! Your cover is gorgeous and the blurb of the story is very intriguing – this one is going to land on my TBR

    • Hello, Winnie!

      I do love the cover. My cover designer is my daughter, Lyndsey Lewellen. She has a cover design company, LLewellen Designs. LOL. Most of my cover consultations take place over family dinners. 🙂 We call her the cover savant.

      I hope you enjoy Micah and Claudia’s story. I had such fun writing it.

  15. I think I would be alright if I had my family members with me… If on my own… I know I would do the very best I could… Thanks for sharing your post with us today! 🙂 I am one that does enjoy fish out of water stories!

  16. I really wouldn’t want to leave my home and go to the wilderness but I think I could survive. We all can do a lot of things when we have to. Your book sounds fabulous and I would love to read it.

    • Hello, Quilt Lady!

      You’re right. I think people will rise to the occasion and handle problems, especially when survival depends on it. Although I think animals would be safe from me for a while. I have done fishing before, so maybe trout my be in danger! 🙂

  17. talking about mountain men brought back some memories,,back in the early 90’s,I worked as a Nurse in a small southern hospital,,one day they brought in a “mountain man” he was so dirty that we couldnt even put him in the bed,,we had a separate shower/tub on the wing where we were supposed to wash and clean things that were too dirty to go into a patient room,,this was my first experience with a “mountain man” so another older nurse helped me,,omg,,we put him in that tub of suds and hot hot water and the bugs ran outof his beard and head,,,i screamed,,she ran and got the sissors and commence to shear him,,lol,,,head beard all that nasty hair went,,,we had to drain that tub and refill it 4 times before it was clear enough to see ,,took us over 2 hours to get him clean,,,sounds like your mountain man could find a stream to wash in,,the old feller hadnt seen water on him in decades. maybe a thought for a story,,its funny now but not then it was a nightmare

    • Hello, Vickie!

      Ewww, ick on the bugs in the beard and hair. Yes, Micah is quite good at his own hygiene. As a nurse, I’d have to insist on it with my characters. 🙂

      Sadly, I too had a patient like that when I was working at OSU hospital. This little lady showed up one day. She was homeless and pregnant, which was hard to believe because she looked at least late 60’s, but was in reality only in her 30’s. We had to hibiclens shower her twice before getting her into the bed. The nurses managed to convince the residents to let her stay the weekend under observation so we knew she and the baby would get a good meal and some rest before going back out into the community. When she came back to have her baby, we had to repeat the hibiclens showers again. She gave the baby up for adoption because she “couldn’t care for her at her camp”. Was very sad.

  18. I love your “what-ifs”and I, too, loved Robert Redford as the rough and rugged mountain man. I know your story is wonderful… I would love to read it!

  19. I enjoy the unexpected and this type of story always makes things interesting. I think I could survive but only if I had help – I’d be willing to learn. Nice to see you here 🙂

    • Hello, Catslady!

      Imagine meeting you at the Junction and not the Lair, huh? 😉

      I imagine the mountain men had help at first, learning how to survive in the elements. Even Jeremiah Johnson had help from people he met along the way.

      Micah get help from Claudia and her band of helpers, then from some friends from the war…and even when the story moves back into the mountains, friends play important parts there, too!

  20. Suz, what a fun post! I loved Redford as Jeremiah Johnson, but I was never motivated to go learn about mountain men. What you’ve shared was interesting.

    And you know I love that little hint of paranormal. Can’t wait to read the book!

  21. I love fish out of water stories! And there are not enough historicals with a hint of paranormal out there.

    As for surviving in the wilderness – in not so sure I could hack it. I eat meat but don’t know that I’d be able to do the hunting and dressing.

  22. Fish out of water stories are always fun. It is enjoyable seeing reactions as well as how they cope.
    We as a family would probably survive quite well. We have all done much outside. We have all fished, most hunted, we have our own garden and know many of the wild plants we can eat. I can cook on a wood stove or a campfire, and am able to start a fire pretty well. My son and husband can build whatever we need.
    I can’t say we would love it, but I think we would manage better than most.

  23. Hello Suzanne. Very interesting post. I have read many Mountain men books. All were good. And I loved jeremiah Johnson also, and loved Redford as him. He was so good in so many movies I watched. I need to watch Jeremiah’s movie again. Been too long. Please add my name to the drawing. Thanks and GOD bless you.
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  24. Sounds like your story is a winner. I like your what-if approach. Although most mountain men were gone at the time, many who turned to mining, as you said, I’m sure with the aftermath of the Civil War there were plenty of men who wanted to run far away from civilization that even the most remote parts of the mountains weren’t far enough. I look forward to reading your novel.

    Robyn Echols robynechols AT gmail DOT com

  25. I believe that if the circumstances were to merit it, I’d definitely move to the wilderness. I’d last as long as I could be inventive enough to come up with food & shelter. Desperation would be my driving force.

    I like fish-out-of-water stories, because I can relate to them. I have felt like a fish-out-of-water more times than I can remember. I like to see how the characters successfully overcomes being a fish-out-of-water.


  26. I really think I could make it. My folks taught me many skills growing up that would help. I have always loved being a in a rural setting, and I think that would set me in good sted. I don’t think it would be easy, it would be do=able.

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