Pam Hillman and I “met” when her second novel, Claiming Mariah, was released as an ebook with Tyndale at the same time as my novel. On today’s post, Pam talks about the inspiration behind her debut novel which has just been released into print.
Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog to talk about my debut novel, Stealing Jake.
When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-Fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.
Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy―literally while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town―as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off―Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.
Interwoven throughout is a group of street kids arrested in Chicago and sold as child labor. Leading this band of ragamuffins is young Luke, a scared, determined orphan intent on rescuing his little brother at any cost.
Jake and Livy’s story started out as a novella proposal for Tyndale House Publishers several years ago, but didn’t make the cut. In hindsight, I think we can all agree that this was a good thing! I liked the premise so much that I revised it, working with the story until I had a full-length novel.
As a novella, Stealing Jake was a light-hearted love story of a former pickpocket and sheriff’s deputy sparring with (and against!) each other and ultimately falling in love. But as I built it into a full-length novel, it evolved into so much more. The gritty world of coal mining worked its way into Jake’s past, and the even grittier world of street kids in the late 1800’s into Livy’s traumatic past. And along the way, a kid named Luke took hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go.
The manuscript garnered several awards, and the attention of a few editors, but something was lacking. I knew what it was: Luke’s story. But I was afraid I couldn’t weave scenes from his point-of-view in seamlessly. But his story, and that of his friends, demanded to be told. Finally, one night at the ACFW conference, romantic suspense author Robin Caroll helped me brainstorm ways to weave Luke into the story. I think she (Robin) was tired of hearing me gripe about it!
I loved the results, and the revised version went on to final in the RWA Golden Heart contest before being contracted by Tyndale House as one of the launch books for their Digital First Initiative program. Readers raved, reviewed, and clamored for more, and here we are. Stealing Jake, my debut ebook, is now in print.
I’m not sure who’s happiest: me or my readers!
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com