1. Mother Before Wife is the second book in the Compound series, what should your readers expect from this story?
-In Mother Before Wife, we switch to Aspen's POV, who is still on the compound, but has been reassigned per her request to a new husband. The plot really begins once she's settled in with her new family. But, there may be a glimmer of other characters from Wife Number Seven.
2. What kind of research did you do before you wrote this series? What inspired you? - I did a ton of research, which I love to do. It's one of my favorite things about being a writer. I've always been fascinated by the FLDS, so I'd already read a few autobiographies written by women who escaped the compound. I watched dozens of documentaries and 20/20, Dateline episodes and read more non-fiction books on the topic. I took lots of notes and then found a way to layer the facts within the fictionalized story.
3. If you could choose a favourite character, who would it be and why? -Aspen is actually my favorite character. She's strong, independent and very smart. And despite her tough exterior, she'd go to the ends of the earth for those she loves.
4. What are your plans, any new projects apart from continuing the story in this one? -On February 16, Montlake Romance will release my latest contemporary romance called "If You Can't Take the Heat" which centers around a reality cooking competition. Whitney Bartolina (a character from Red Carpet Kiss) is the casting director and finds herself torn between three different men.
“I’m scared, Mama. I don’t want to die.” My youngest’s skin was ashen with trails of tears staining her cheeks. Cradling Beatrice in my arms, I pulled her tight and kissed her forehead.
And just as my mother had said twenty years prior, I said to my daughter. “Keep sweet. The Lord is bringing us home.”
She fell asleep in my arms while Ruthie and Susan played with their new brothers and sisters, only pausing to join me on our small blanket for sustenance. Dozens of ladies were gathered in the center of the field, hands clasped together as they prayed to Heavenly Father. As the hours passed by, their voices continued, but the fervor they carried throughout the daytime hours was dimming along with the setting sun.
Our Prophet, looking much healthier than he had the day Paul and I married was nowhere to be found. Paul explained that he needed an hour for self-reflection and communication with the Lord. But, that was hours ago. Where was he?
My eyes wandered the field, kissed by twilight and darkened clouds. Hoping it wouldn’t rain, but enjoying the cool breeze the looming storm would offer, I pulled Beatrice closer to my chest as she snored softly.
And then I saw a face I didn’t recognize. A face that made my pulse race and my fingers tremble. My focus no longer lingered on the likely storm that approached. It remained on him. This stranger. This man who didn’t belong.
I was, by no means, an expert of the residents of our community, however, we had only a dozen major bloodlines and most of the men were honored members of the Priesthood. Our Prophet explained that our Lord was weeding out the wicked and so, even if I didn’t know a man personally, I recognized his face as the brother, cousin or uncle of another man with whom I was familiar.
But, not this man.
No, this was a face I’d never seen. A face that didn’t belong. A face of pure evil.
He leaned his stout body against an imposing oak tree on the outskirts of the field. He was dressed just like the men in our community in a plain buttoned-down shirt and trousers, his hands deep within his front pockets. If his goal was to fit in, he was succeeding. I glanced around at my sister wives, none of whom had seemed to notice this mysterious figure against the old oak tree. I watched him for, what felt like, hours, tempted to ask Paul if he knew of the man’s identity, but I couldn’t find my husband either.
My thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice. A soft, timid voice I’d left behind months ago. Rebecca.
My former sister wife was standing a mere two feet away, cradling a newborn to her chest. Of course. The baby who sealed her fate with the Cluffs. She forced a smile on her drained face.
“Rebecca, my goodness, how are you?” I asked, patting the spot next to me on the blanket. She obliged and sat cross-legged, clutching the babe who was wrapped tight with blankets. “And who is this…blessing?”
Rebecca closed her eyes tight. “Margaret. My first girl.”