Eunice Boeve


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Angela Bates, Me, Andrea Downing and daughter, Crystal, at Angela's Restuarant in Nicdemus, Ks. posted 10-5-16
A 2012 Interview with Andrea Downing, author of Loveland, a western romance novel, slightly edited to fit this year of 2016

Eunice Boeve, a Kansas resident, grew up in Montana and Idaho, influenced by a story-telling cowboy father and a reading, poetry-loving mother. Her first submission for publication—and subsequent rejection—was a poem her sixth grade teacher encouraged her to send to the Weekly Reader. Besides a few short children’s stories and as many articles, she is the author of six middle grade historical novels, and two adult historical fiction/western novels, Along Shadowed Trail and its sequel, Along Winding Trails. She has written one sixteen chapter middle grade children's story every year for six years for a program called Newspapers in Education, or NIE. Currently six newspapers feature the stories each year in segments of two chapters a week for eight weeks. Before retiring, she worked as a speech paraprofessional in a school for special needs children and as a bookkeeper/secretary in her family-owned funeral home.
So Eunie, with two parents who loved stories and reading, what books and authors influenced you?
As a child I grew up with stories about the west and about cowboys, like Will James’ Smoky the Cowhorse, and Zane Grey’s stories, but also the Bobbsey Twins, Heidi, and Little Women. I never liked the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys stories. Actually, I could fill your whole blog with books I’ve loved, then and now.
What research did you have to do for your stories?
In regard to the places, or settings where the stories take place, if I’ve not been there, I make the trip, and because I write historical fiction, I have to go back in time as well, traveling by a conveyance called research. The year I wrote Along Shadowed Trails, my husband and I were on a winter trip to Port Lavaca, in South Texas near Matagorda Bay. While there, I heard about Margaret Borland, who once lived just north of there at Victoria. A widowed ranch owner, she took a herd of cattle to Wichita in 1873. I researched her thoroughly, but she would not come to life for me, and instead, although I’m not at all sure how, I found Joshua Ryder in Indianola, TX, standing outside his mother's adobe where she entertained men. He was eight-years-old. When Josh is 19 he hires on to help drive a trail herd to Wichita, and Margaret Borland shows up in the person of a widowed ranch owner named Martha Rawlins. I’ve researched the areas of my other books as well, from West Virginia for A Window to the World, from Springfield, Ill to the Sierra Mountains for Trapped!, from Texas for Along Shadowed Trails, to Montana (once my home state) for Along Winding Trails. Maggie Rose and Sass, The Summer of the Crow, Wishing You home, and Echoes, were all set in Kansas (now my home state) so the traveling was minimal.
How do you choose time and place? For instance for your two adult westerns?
Texas in the first story because of Margaret Borland and being in Port Lavaca that winter, and visiting what little is left of Indianola (It was wiped out by hurricanes) and because Along Winding Trails is a sequel to Along Shadowed Trails, I had to stick to that time period, but in Montana rather than Texas. Why Montana? Maybe because it was once my home, and that’s probably a part of it, but I think the protagonist Joshua Ryder decided it himself. At the end of Along Shadowed Trails, feeling footloose and with no definite plan in mind, when he hears of a cattle drive headed for Montana in the spring, he decides to see if they'll need another hand. And although I had not idea at the time that I'd write a sequel, when I did find my self involved in his life again, I just took his thoughts and went with them.
So the idea for this second book wasn't even an idea in your mind when you wrote the first?
Nope. When I finished Along Shadowed Trails, I had no idea I’d carry Josh on into another story. To me it was finished, to my readers, it was not, at least to their liking, enough of them came to me wanting to know more. So, I decided to see what did happen next and the result was Along Winding Trails.
We’ve mentioned your parents and their love of stories and reading—but how did your upbringing influence your writing?
In several ways, including the time and place where I was raised, where the old west was/is still revered and the influence of a father who was the last of those old time cowboys who hated sheep, farming, fences, and the encroachment of so called civilization. Two other factors that influences my writing are, first my dad’s death when I was five which tore a very large hole in our family, a hole never really mended, and secondly because Dad wrote a book about his cowboy days in Wyoming and a horse that was special to him. He died shortly afterwards so the manuscript was never published and was lost some years later. (My stories often have a missing or deceased father as if I’m still trying to come to terms with that loss)
Your character/hero is not the usual romanticized hero. Did you set out to make his life so complex?
No, I don't write from a plan. Joshua had a stable childhood in the sense that he was loved. Some might argue the point since his mother was a prostitute and he lived with her until he was eight, he was always well cared for, always loved. Later, after his mother was killed, An old cowboy took him in and finished raising him. Having always wanted children, he loved him as a son. In our formative years, the knowledge that we are loved, makes all the difference. I have no plans for my stories. I start with the time period, the setting, and the main character and do lots of research and then start the story. My characters seem to be who they are and all, but the main character who is already there, step into the story, unannounced. I have no designs on them, they come in and then I find out who they are, their names, and backgrounds. In Along Shadowed Trails, Josh begins the story as an 8-year-old boy whose father was white and according to his Mexican mother, deceased. I first started with the mother's story and then I flashed forward to Josh's on the night his mother is killed. My three daughters are my first readers and one of them said, “Mom, you don’t need those first three chapters about the mother, just get rid of them.” Her sisters agreed and so I did. The mother’s life is never fully explained as the story moves on, but enough so that the reader understands the “what and why and wherefore” of her being in Texas and specifically in Indianola.
You also write YA and children’s stories: is there a big difference in your style, story or character development for the two, or even for research?
Obviously one doesn’t use adult themes or cuss words. Otherwise, I don’t think so.
In your stories, as in Along Shadowed Trail, someone dies, someone whose death seems out of line or even cruel and heartless on your part. Was it a difficult decision and have you had readers give you any flack about it?
First of all, both times it happened—the other time was in my book Summer of the Crow—it’s unexpected and I’m crying as I’m typing those words and usually I have to quit writing for a while. I actually mourn the loss of that character whom I’d grown to know, who seemed to live and breathe in my mind. I am also sad for the other characters who will grieve their loss. Sure, I could have snatched them from the jaws of death, but to be true to the story that is unfolding as I go, I’d then have thrown the proverbial “monkey wrench” into the works. In other words I’d have taken control and the story would no longer be theirs but mine and I’d not be surprised if the whole thing ground to a halt.
Would you say your writing is plot driven or character driven? Do you find your characters suddenly do things you hadn’t expected?
Definitely character driven. They tell the story, not the other way around, so yes, often I’m surprised. I cannot plot a story, the only exception is Trapped—about a girl with the Donner Part of 1846-47. That is a true story, so I had to follow the actual events and use the actual characters, but for my fictional stories, the plot/theme develops as the story unfolds.
So what’s next?
I’m not sure. I need to write another NIE story to come out in the newspapers in March of 2017, I think a Pawnee Indian boy will be the main character. Sometimes I toy with the idea of writing about the little half Chinese, half white girl in Along Winding Trails. I like her and wonder what she will be like all grown up. I like to do short stories and articles about yesteryear, featuring someone who was interesting, colorful, etc. A couple of years ago, my short story Happily Ever After won first place in the Winfield, Ks, annual Kansas Voices contest... So we’ll see... I actually need more hours in a day or more years ( if I still have my mind) added on to my life, if I do all I think I want to do. I love writing. It has given me so much pleasure as well as self confidence, expanded my knowledge of history and brought me into contact with people I now count as dear friends (see photo above). So if I never write another word, I’m still count myself privileged to have been in the game at all.

With the exception of Trapped, published by Royal Fireworks, Uniontown, NY, Rowe Publishing , 785-425-7350, is the publisher and the books are available on her website; through me at roneun@​ 785-543-2903; Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Book sellers note the books are also available through Ingram and other wholesalers. Maggie Rose and Sass and The Summer of the Crow are now in audio book form by Books in Motion, Spokane, Valley, WA 1-800-752-3199.