Where the Road Bends is my pandemic book baby! My husband, who is a dentist, had his office closed to all patients except the rare emergency, my children were home from school, and nothing felt normal. It was under these circumstances that I began writing the story of two lost souls who find each other in a most unusual way, during very trying times.
Looking back, I wonder how much the pandemic, without me knowing it, trickled into this story. My characters deal with their own uncertainty and questions about their futures. They have fears and yet, try to find their footing. Writing fiction is an interesting thing, it’s made up, and yet, it is full of pieces of reality. Our family was also looking for our footing, trying to be optimistic despite our worries and praying for outcomes we could not see.
The initial idea for this change of fortunes story came from a couple places. The first is my love for Les Misérables. I love how one act of generosity changes the main characters trajectory. He is able to make a new life for himself (though still haunted by the past). The author wheels began turning, could I take a main character and suddenly change his course overnight? How would I do that?
I love how one question leads to others, until there is suddenly a story mapped out (usually a much different one than expected!). My first thought was for Quincy (my leading man) to find a fortune, but how? Then I discovered that people used to sew their money into clothing when they traveled by stage or train in hopes it wouldn’t be stollen if bandits came along. What if money was left, sewed inside of clothing and then someone else became the owner of that clothing?
I think the “what if” question is the key to good brainstorming! I kept asking what if over and over. In the end, Where the Road Bends does not very closely resemble Les Misérables and it does not include money sewed into clothing, but there is a change of fortune. My former boxer, who had no true course in life finds himself on a new path and it all happened because of an injury that nearly took his life. The sequence of questions led me to a story that fit perfectly in its Iowa setting where Norah (my leading lady) is facing the prospect of a marriage of convenience to save her farm.
Days before her wedding, she discovers an injured Quincy whom she nurses back to health and in the process discovers a friend (something she has not had in a very long time). But Quincy is penniless and without a marriage, Norah will be homeless…
I loved walking with these characters as they face some very difficult times. It was therapeutic for me to nudge them along as I was also trudging along, my characters and myself believing that happy endings do come in their own time. It was also comforting stepping back into Iowa (the setting of some of my previously published books), it was like visiting old friends (in fact a couple old friends make very brief appearances in this book).
When I look back on the writing of my novels, I often think of what was happening in my own life during the writing of them. The novels, for me, are a time capsule full of memories of the life that was happening around me as I wrote. My debut was written during one of my son’s medical crisis’s. It released the same month we said goodbye to our beautiful and loved foster daughter. That book will always remind me of the heartache and the joy of loving others. This book, Where the Road Bends, will forever remind me to keep taking steps forward even when I am unsure what lies ahead.
Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs, Yours Truly, Thomas, and A Life Once Dreamed. Fans expect stories with heart and she delivers, diving deep into the human experience and tugging at reader emotions. She loves connecting with people, traveling to new places, and daydreaming about future projects that will have sigh-worthy endings and memorable characters. She is a busy mom, raising both biological and foster children (a cause she
feels passionate about). She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.