Heidi Thomas on Writing Family Sagas

I’m delighted to present author-friend, Heidi Thomas’s account of the role of family sagas in her writing life.????????????


 How many of you have read a book and become so invested in the character(s) that you hate for the story to come to an end? Whether it’s a likable detective or a boy who would avenge a traitorous plot against his noble family or the patriarch/matriarch of a homesteading pioneer family, you want to continue to count these characters as friends. You want the story to continue.

As social media maven, Kristen Lamb, wrote in a recent blog post, Why Series are Becoming Hot, Hot, Hot!: (http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/why-series-are-becoming-hot-hot-hot-how-dragging-out-the-pain-is-good-for-your-readers/ ), “Every setback is an opportunity for an even greater comeback….With a series there is, bluntly, more time and more opportunities to 1) generate love and affection for a wide cast of characters and then 2) torture them then 3) wait for the comeback.

She continues, “The same urges that drive viewers to lose an entire weekend or night of sleep dying to find out what happens on a show…is the same phenomena that is driving series and novellas to greater popularity.”

The sweeping family saga has known much popularity through the years, e.g. Jeffery Archer’s “The Clifton Chronicles”, Ken Follett’s “Century Trilogy”, Frank Herbert’s “Dune”, the Harry Potter and Twilight series. Amazon, Goodreads, and Wikipedia all have long lists of books that are “shelved” under the term family saga.

Little did I know when I was growing up on the isolated prairies of eastern Montana in the 1950s and ’60s, that my own family would be the source of a novel series. I, like most kids, undoubtedly thought my family was pretty boring, and the stories my parents and grandparents told flew over my head like geese heading south for the winter.

But as I grew older and knew that the “writing thing” was my passion, I turned to that family history to write what has become the “Cowgirl Dreams Trilogy”, Cowgirl Dreams based on my grandmother who was a bucking-steer rider in rodeos during the 1920s. And from researching and writing those books, grew a non-fiction book, Cowgirl Up!, about the old-time rodeo cowgirls of Montana, due out in September.

The next novel is actually the first one I ever wrote, but I am rewriting, and it will follow the Cowgirl trilogy with the next generation, based on my mother, who emigrated from Germany after WWII. I’m calling it An American Dream, and it may turn into two books, followed by a purely fictional story, starring the great-granddaughter of my original character, Nettie.

My readers tell me they have grown to like Nettie Brady Moser, that they root for her to overcome the prejudice against women riders, cry with her when she loses a baby sister, and are happy when she finds a cowboy to love and share rodeo with. And I hope they will continue on the journey with me with Dare to Dream and then on to the next generation.Dare to Dream

Our families truly are a source of rich information for our stories—if only we pause long enough to mine that source.


 Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana. She had parents who taught her a love of books and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos.

Heidi’s first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, won an EPIC Award and the USA Book News Best Book Finalist award. Follow the Dream, a WILLA Award winner, is the second book in the “Cowgirl Dreamseries about strong, independent Montana women, and the third book in the series, Dare to Dream is due out in May. A non-fiction book about the old-time cowgirls of Montana, Cowgirl Up!, is scheduled to be released in September.

Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Professional Writers of Prescott, is also a manuscript editor, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes in north-central Arizona.

Website: http://www.heidimthomas.com

Blog: http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com

Buy links (my website) http://www.globepequot.com/dare_to_dream-9780762797004

One Response to Heidi Thomas on Writing Family Sagas

  1. Heidi M. Thomas April 11, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Thank you, Judy, for hosting me on your blog today!

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