An Interview with Darlene Franklin from the Texas Trails Series

Hello Fiction Fans,

You were introduced to Texas Trails author Darlene Franklin here, then here, now we would like to dig in a little deeper with this interview. Deb sat down with Darlene and this is what we learned about her and the book Lone Star Trail, the first in the six book Texas Trails Series that will begin being released early next month:

Lone Star Trail highlights the roots of German influence in Texas. What drew you to this subject?

All four of my mother’s grandparents arrived in America in the great wave of immigration in the late nineteenth century; I have an abiding interest in the people who left their homes and everything they knew to risk it all in a new land. Also, when I started writing books set in Texas, with Texas authors, they were quick to point out “there’s a huge German influence in Texas.”  So when Susan, Vickie and I brainstormed ideas for our Texas series, I knew I wanted to write about the German Verein. 

What research did you do in preparation for writing Lone Star Trail?

I did my usual online research and also ordered books. One book in particular, German Seed in Texas Soil, gave the kind of detailed information that writers live for: what crops did they grow? How much did a cow cost? Where did they live? How was their way of life different from their American neighbors? I also got to take a trip through the Texas hill country, the heart of German culture in Texas. I spent two nights in historic Fredericksburg, drove to the modern port of Puerto LaVaca which is in the general vicinity of Carshafen (the original town was destroyed by two hurricanes), and spent another night in Victoria, the setting for Lone Star Trail. In Fredericksburg, I went to the Pioneer Museum Complex. I got to poke around Sunday houses, a one room school, half-timbered dwellings (amazingly cool in the hot summer heat!). I enjoyed chatting with the docent about the Verein. 

Tell us a little about the German influx into Texas in the mid-1800s.

Prince Carl von Braunfels founded the “Adelsverein,” the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, in 1842. At the time, Texas was an independent country. The Society was an attempt to colonize a New Germany within Texas borders—the source of Jud Morgan’s displeasure. Texas was encouraging immigration, however, and offering land to any who wanted it. Although the Verein was organized by a noble, it appealed to the common man, and the immigrants flooded the port of Carlshafen in 1844-1845. Faced with limited resources, no way to get to the promised land, and disease, the members of the Verein bonded together, formed societies to learn from each other, and created a vital community. A later group of German intelligentsia arrived in 1848, after revolutions rocked their homeland.

 Lone Star Trail is the first of six books in the Texas Trails series. Texas Trails is unique in that it features three different authors. How did you connect with fellow authors Susan Page Davis and Vickie McDonough?

I’ve known Susan and Vickie for years; Susan and I met when I was looking for authors from the state of Maine; and Vickie lives just down the road from me (I’m in Oklahoma City and she’s in Tulsa). We’ve written a number of novella anthologies together, although this is the first time all three of us have worked on the same project. We also happen to share the same agent: Chip MacGregor. Chip asked the three of us to develop a series of historical romances set in Texas. We jumped at the chance! 

Jud Morgan, the hero of Lone Star Trail, was thrust into his position as head of the Morgan family at a young age. Tell us a little bit of his history.

Jud’s parents moved to Texas when he was only a small child and worked on establishing the Running M Ranch. By 1834, things looked bright for the family—Jud had been joined by his brother Calder and his sisters Marion and Billie. Then Jud’s father went off to fight in Texas’s war for independence from Mexico and never came back. Jud jumped into position as the head of the family. Time passed him by while his brother Calder married and left home and his sister Billie was captured by Comanche. He’s stayed so busy taking care of his brothers and sisters, he wonders if he will ever have a family of his own.

What were the special challenges about writing the first book in a six-book series?

Myriad! I had to not only set up Jud’s story, but the family background for all six books. Also, being first meant I had a little less time for every step of the publication process than Susan or Vickie. I also carry the responsibility of introducing the Morgan family and the series to our readers. If they love Lone Star Trail, they’ll be enticed to read Captive Trail and Long Trail Home. If they don’t, I’ve let down River North as well as Susan and Vickie.         

What’s next for the Morgan family?

The Running M Ranch remains in operation, but the family scatters. Our readers will meet stage-coach owners, nuns, civil war vets, Texas Rangers, ranchers, cowboys (and cowgirls) and more.

What did you enjoy most about writing Lone Star Trail?

I enjoyed looking into German customs. A lot of my readers know about the origins of the Christmas tree, but maybe they’ll be as surprised as I was to learn about the Easter egg tree!

How can today’s reader identify with the pioneer experience?

Pioneers represent much of the best of America. Brave, resilient, resourceful, they depended on each other—and God—to see them through the worst of times. In spite of the difficulties they faced, they maintained faith and fought for what they believed in. Isn’t that what we still want for our nation?

Wande Fleischer represents the millions of immigrants who came to America in search of a better life. What can we learn from her today?

Reach for the brass ring. . .how much are we willing to risk to live the life we’ve always dreamed of? What do we cling to when we’re separated from everything familiar?

Look for Lone Star Trail at your favorite local bookstore or online at your favorite store early September.

  1. I’m very excited about the release of Lone Star Trail! I hope our readers enjoy losing themselves in another time and place as much as I did.

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