To limit Stephanie Grace Whitson to just writing about Nebraska would eliminate too many of her wonderful book titles. Yet I have to credit part of my fascination with Nebraska history to the introduction that Stephanie gave me in her books. Reading her first title, Walks the Fire back in my early days of teaching school, transformed my view of pioneer life in this state. Stephanie Grace Whitson definitely impacted how I saw Nebraska.
Part of my appreciation of her books developed through personally interacting with her. Albeit sporadically, but our primarily online conversations have been still been meaningful to me. She is a longtime friend of my mom’s. Now I consider her my friend as well. Recently she graciously allowed me to interview her over the phone. The majority of the interview will soon be posted on my other site (Sacred Line). But I wanted to highlight just her Nebraska books here as well. If you are looking for a meaningful way to interact with Nebraska history without delving into a thick textbook, her books are a lovely way to begin.
What began Stephanie’s writing career was a longtime fascination with history. At the time, she discovered a small cemetery near her home that featured a few pioneer gravestones. She started to wonder “what if” and how these long ago people might have lived life over 100 years ago. Her writing goal is to pay tribute to the women whose pioneering spirits have forever changed the land. Meticulously researched, Stephanie’s books are based on historical facts. In fact, her book ideas come from a situation or a setting in history. Generally her fascination is with life west of the Mississippi.
The Stephanie Grace Whitson Nebraska Trilogies
The first three books of Stephanie Grace Whitson comprise the Prairie Winds series: Walks the Fire, Soaring Eagle, and Red Bird begin in Nebraska. Sections do feature life in the East. They are primarily focused on interactions between Native Americans and “the white man.” Her next series is the Keepsake Legacies (Sarah’s Patchwork, Karyn’s Memory Box and Nora’s Ribbon of Memories). These titles center around life in early Lincoln and the surrounding pioneer communities. All six of these books in both series are connected with major characters acting as minor characters in other stories. You would definitely want to read all six books in order of publication!
Pine Ridge Portraits introduces the reader to historical Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Secrets in the Wind addresses army life in 1878. Watchers on the Hill continues the story several years later. Footprints on the Horizon jumps to World War 2 to talk about the Nebraska POW camps – how Germans helped to farm our land. I read these books right before our trip to Fort Robinson several years ago. They definitely brought a new level of meaning to that experience. The same family is found in each title.
The Quilt Chronicles begin in the Lincoln area. The Key on the Quilt actually has to do with the early day of the Nebraska State Penitentiary and an unexpected prisoner. The Shadow on the Quilt features the theme of starting over after a tragic scandal. The Message on the Quilt moves the setting to Beatrice, Nebraska. This story takes place during the time of the Chautauqua. The characters in the first two books are connected with a similar quilt theme found in the third.
More Stephanie Grace Whitson Titles
When Sixteen Brides exit the train in the fictional town of Plum Grove, Nebraska, the town is changed forever. This book is based on an actual historical snippet that Stephanie discovered in her research … “This was decidedly the best lot of widows that had arrived thus far.” Stephanie noted in our interview that throughout writing this particular book with lots of storylines, these characters captured her attention. In fact if any of her heroines could ever come to life, these would be the ones that she would like to have lunch with.
With all of her fiction, only three stories have been set in “modern” times. A Garden in Paris and a Hilltop in Tuscany begin in Omaha and end (not surprisingly) in Europe. These two titles might be some of my very favorite books. I love the storylines of forgiveness, redemption and having a fresh start. Her other “current” fiction title happens to be out-of-print.
The Stephanie Grace Whitson Giveaway
Recently I found an “almost new” copy of Jacob’s List. I would like to pass it on to one of my readers. Although this title is a bit sad, you end with a strong feeling of hope. And with understanding just how important living intentionally is. To win a copy, please comment below on which Whitson book set in Nebraska you would like to read. After writing out the list of her books, I have a REALLY long list of her books that I want to re-read again.
Stephanie Grace Whitson latest read and what she recommends …
By the way, her latest book, Messenger in the Moonlight is also set in Nebraska. Sadly I have not read that title yet. But I am eagerly anticipating it arriving in the mail soon. The focus of this title is on “The Pony Express,” especially how it impacted Nebraska. I think this title deserves a column of its own. Don’t you agree? 🙂
Interestingly enough, one of Stephanie’s favorite authors happens to be a Nebraskan. Bess Streeter Aldrich. Aldrich’s stories, written long ago, are also worth reading.