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  • James Wheeling

Where did it all come from?

I started writing in 2009.

Granted, it had been a very long time since Freshman English in college but I started nonetheless. I took a continuing education class at the local college in non-fiction, fiction and editing where I got lots of encouragement. I attended a women’s writing retreat in Asheville, NC – an event that altered my universe in a very good, very profound way. And I learned to write from my inner self.

Simultaneously to this exploration, I had personal events that ripped the fabric of my life. I had never known betrayal, deception and isolation before this time. I grieved the loss of trust, relationships and a dream. It was a dark time.

J.J. Wheeling, author, glamour shot.

But, I kept writing.

I learned to give the problems to characters. To take the hateful words that had wounded my soul so deeply and weave them into dialogue. And, after a few years, all of those feelings made my characters more complex, relatable and flawed. When I ached, my characters felt and expressed it.

A life-long interest and curiosity in the mid-19th century bloomed into an all-consuming passion. I started with the area around my home place. I wondered about all the people who came here and their motivations. What made them leave their familiar, safe havens and come to the mountains of Southwestern Colorado in the 1870’s? What made them think the native Ute peoples wouldn’t resist the invasion of their homeland?

A character bloomed to life after a particular writing assignment. I love her. I kid you not, to this day, I love her. She came when my children were spreading their wings and going into the wide world of careers and relationships that I would have no control over. This character can say all the things I can’t say about love and relationships. But I didn’t know how to answer all the questions about what her life history was and how she came to be so wise.

Then a friend lent me a book saying that there were a few chapters about the California Goldrush that I might find interesting. I devoured the entire thing and found my story’s premise.

I am so grateful.

From my rocking chair in front of my mountain cabin’s wood burning stove, I researched on the internet and read books. I traveled back in time and all over the world. There were times when I discovered something so shocking I would jump up with the words, “What the…?!!”

And then the magic happened.

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