Shannon here: Sherry Shindelar shares her inspiration for her debut Historical Romance, Texas Forsaken (May 2024). I love when the aspiring authors I feature make it to published author status! Comment or answer the question in this post to enter Monday’s drawing. Deadline: Oct 28th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Sherry:
Captive Romance: The History that Inspired the Texas Forsaken
My debut Christian Historical Romance novel Texas Forsaken (May 2024) was loosely inspired by Cynthia Ann Parker’s life, the most famous captive of 19th century America. Twenty years ago, I read her story and cried profusely. I so wanted her to have her happily-ever-after with her beloved husband, but it was never to be. Ever since, I have been haunted by her broken heart.
Captured at age nine during an attack on her family’s frontier Texas fort in 1836, Cynthia Ann lived with the Comanche for twenty-four years before being recaptured by the U.S. Calvary and Texas Rangers in 1860 on the eve of the Civil War. During her years with the Indians, she had several opportunities to return to settler society, but she refused. She had a husband she loved and children. These were her people.
During the Battle of Pease River in December 1860, she was taken from her tribe along with her infant daughter, Prairie Flower, never to see her beloved husband (Peta Nocona, a Comanche war chief) or her two sons again. Historical sources disagree about whether Peta Nocona died in that battle, as I have portrayed with my fictional Dancing Eagle, or survived for a couple more years.
Cynthia Ann was held against her will and sent to live with relatives, but she never fully re-acclimated to settler society. She made numerous attempts to run away from her bewildered relatives who couldn’t understand her passionate desire to return to the Comanches. Her daughter died of pneumonia in 1864. Cynthia Ann never saw her husband or sons again. (Her son, Quanah Parker, went on to become one of the most famous Comanche chiefs who had ever lived.) She died of a broken heart a few years later.
Texas Forsaken reimagines a happier ending for a young woman similar to Cynthia Ann. Eyes-Like-Sky is not Cynthia Ann, but she like Cynthia is a woman caught between cultures.
Eyes-Like-Sky has only been with the Comanche for seven years instead of twenty-four, and she only has one child. And unlike Cynthia Ann, Eyes-Like-Sky has another chance at love.
In addition, I used Olive Oatman’s life experiences for further research. Olive was a captive who spent five years with the Indians from 1851-1856, most of it with the Mohave, before she was recaptured. Margot Mifflin describes Olive’s life in the non-fiction The Blue Tattoo.
I love captive stories, and I love happy endings. Sometimes the two don’t come together. In Texas Forsaken, they do.
Question for Readers: Is there something in history that fascinates you? Tell us about it and why it fascinates you?