My story, A Fairy-Tale Bride, is set just after the Civil War in the make-believe town of Cuento, Texas. Nora, the main character, is a Southern war widow who has lost her husband, her home, and her land. She is impoverished and has no means to support herself. The only respectable option she has is to become a mail-order bride.
As I researched the story I wanted to write for this collection, I found it was very common for war widows, especially those from the South, to enter into such marriages of convenience. Most of them had lost everything during the conflict. Some of the surviving Confederate soldiers left the Southeast to begin new lives in the cotton fields of Texas. This air of familiarity helped with their transition back into civilian life.
The Texas cotton industry boomed around this time. With their former homes and crops razed and slaves gone, many men turned to Texas as a place to start fresh. The land was fertile, crops were good, and they were able to tap into the now-freed slaves as a work force familiar with growing cotton. Texas quickly became one of the leading producers of cotton in the nation. With the new plantation owners thriving, it was natural for the Southern war widows to go to Texas to enter into new marriages and to start new families.
While I considered not having the sharecroppers appear in the story because of the oftentimes unsavory aspects of the institution, in the end, I decided to show them because sharecropping was a way of life in the South after the war. The hero and his friend would not have been able to sustain their large plantations without this means of getting workers. Neither of the characters is unkind to the sharecroppers, and I don’t dwell on it because the characters wouldn’t have. It was part of daily life.
As I researched this book, I learned so much about what life was like for some Southerners following the Civil War. When you read it, I hope you learn a little something too.
About Liz Tolsma:
My life is always a changing scene, full and busy with writing inspirational historical fiction and raising a family. I have been writing seriously for a number of years now, but have wanted to be an author since the fifth grade when my teacher wrote, “I hope to see you as a published authoress,” in my autograph book. I was hooked. I’m proud to be represented by my wonderful agent, Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.
When I’m not busy writing, I enjoy reading, especially historical romance. You can also find me working in my garden, walking my black lab, Kylie, camping with my family, kayaking or crocheting.
My wonderful husband of twenty-six years and I make our home in the beautiful Wisconsin countryside with our children. We adopted our nineteen year old son from Vietnam when he was an infant, our thirteen year old daughter from Korea when she was an infant, and our eleven year old special needs daughter from the Philippines when she was five. They certainly keep me going! Our son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine.
I am also a breast cancer survivor. It has been a journey of deep faith and trust in the Lord, but he has sustained me and granted me healing.
The greatest love in my life is my Lord Jesus. I pray that my writing, as well as my entire life, will be to his honor and glory alone.