Posted by Literary Titan
A Higher Calling follows Sam as his reputation follows him even though he’s retired from his gun wearing days, and his new life is threatened as the opportunity for revenge comes knocking. Why did you think this was a good starting point for book 2 in the series?
At the closing of book one, Sam had gotten a glimpse of what his life could be instead of the anger and violence filled existence he had accepted. For a few months he is able to enjoy that normalcy. He is not only seen by the family and neighbors as a husband and father, he starts to see himself in those roles. Even a few friends from his past are willing to give him a chance to be a different man. Too soon, a stranger demands Sam return to the gun. The stranger bribes Sam with money, but also carries a threat in order to manipulate Sam to do his bidding. Sam must choose who he is to be.
Sam must achieve a series of steps in order to become a member of a civilized society. I think of them as similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. First, Sam had to forgive himself and see himself as something more than just a killer. Now, he is making commitments to a family. He has the chance to become a part of that family if he chooses. Hence the name of this book, “A Higher Calling.” Which is the higher calling? Be a husband and father or avenge the death of a friend.
We get to dig deeper into Sam’s character in this book as he has to decide if he is Sam Cardiff or Sam Moses. What were the obstacles you felt were important in develop his character further?
Sam, to me, represents soldiers and Marines who return from combat and are unable to adjust to the quieter life. We only hear about them, unless we know them, when they commit some horrendous act of crime or violence. Sam gave me the opportunity to tell people, who don’t know, that these men and women are wounded as surely as if they had lost a limb. The only difference is the wounds can’t be seen.
That’s what I wanted Sam to tell the reader. He was just a guy with dreams, plans and hopes who circumstances put in a situation so ugly he couldn’t cope. In the aftermath, his value system, his self-awareness, his expectations of himself as well as others are distorted.
Are you a fan of western novels? What books do you feel influenced you as a writer?
I grew up reading Louis Lamoure, Clair Huffaker and Will James. While I read more than just one genre, I am a fan of the western, but I also have a complaint about them. Too often, the characters are single dimensional or at best shallow. This series is the story of the internal struggles of a war vet. I chose the Civil War as I felt it allowed me to tell a better story. I could have chosen any war, but I felt there was a poetry in choosing a 19th century warrior inflicted with a 20th century injury.
Where will book three in the Sam and Laura’s Story series take the characters?
Recovery from any emotional/mental illness is a progression of steps. In book one, Sam came face to face with himself. Who was he going to be. The changing of his name represented that turmoil. In book two, Sam had to find his place in a family but also a community. Once he accepted himself, he had to find a way to accept those around him and allow them to accept him. Book three addresses Sam’s relationship with God and nature. He has spent several years cursing God and wishing God would strike him dead. Now, he must find a way to resolve that conflict.
“What is the matter with you? We do not need his money!” She stood behind him; her hands on her hips.
“It’s not about the money.”
His voice was calm. He could have told her what day of the week it was with the same level of excitement.
“Then why? Why must you go back and try to get yourself killed? You have responsibilities here!”
Sam stopped brushing and seemed ready to turn and face her. He then thought better and did not. He returned to brushing the horse.
“Samuel, you turn around and face me! You tell me why I have to get ready to mourn a second man in my life. You tell me what I’m supposed to tell our children!”
His turn was powerful and deliberate; he faced her, “Our children, Laura? It wasn’t that long ago you told me in no uncertain terms they were your children and I was a bad influence. You share them with me only when it suits you. They are our children if you think you can use them to your advantage.”
“Is that why you’re doing this? To punish me for what I said?”
“Laura, please. Do you really think that little of me? I gave the man my word. I promised him I would avenge him if this happened.”
“You promised? You promised? You also promised my husband you would look after us. I know Wiggins was your friend, but he is cold and dead in the ground. There is nothing you can do that will change that.”
Sam’s’ brows furrowed, “And how is that different from William, your husband? Is he not also cold and dead in the ground?”
Laura stepped forward and took his free hand. She placed his hand on her chest, between her breasts, “Does this feel like it’s cold and dead? Do you not feel the love that surges through my body with every beat of my heart? Tell me what I have to do to keep you here? What must I do to change your mind?”
Sam Moses was in a quandary, a crossroads. He had followed the beautiful Laura Stoddard and her children to Missouri in order to care for them as he had promised the dying William Stoddard, the husband and father. He was determined to keep his word.
Now, he had received notice a friend had been murdered. A friend whom he had promised to avenge if such a thing happened; now, it had. Avenging his friend would most likely kill him but he had given his word.
Now, after living most of his life being beholden to anyone, he must choose, which promise is the higher calling?
Posted in Interviews
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