Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring into Love: An Unlikely Hero

Interview with Mary Davis, author of “An Unlikely Hero”:

Alexis: What makes 1 Samuel 16:7 the focus of this story? Explain the significance.

Mary: This is the verse where God doesn’t look on a person’s outward appearance like people do. My hero in this story was always judged by his small size and deemed incapable. The Pony Express hired only small men and boys to have less weight on the horses so the horses could run faster. And like most other people, the heroine also misjudges the men at the station by outward appearance as to their ability to protect her.

Alexis: Your story is set at the Head of the Echo Canyon Pony Express Station in 1861. Would your book be a historical romance then? Explain what that means in this case.

Mary: Yes, “An Unlikely Hero” is a historical romance. People often get a historical romance mixed up with a historical with romantic elements. What’s the difference you might ask? A historical story is a story set in the past, in a historical setting and can encapsulate a variety of other genres with it and may or may not have romance. For instance, the TV series Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman is a historical with romance elements. The romance isn’t the main part of the story, but there is romance. A historical romance is a romance first and historical second. If you tried to take the romance out of a historical romance, the rest would fall apart and you wouldn’t have a story. It’s a story about a boy and girl falling in love that happens to be set in the past.

Alexis: BethAnn White is the heroine of your story. What does she look like? What are her life passions and goals? How does she act and why?

Mary: You wouldn’t think so, but this question gives me pause. It seems like a simple enough one, but I’ve written another novella and a novel as well as several proposals since finishing “An Unlikely Hero,” so let me think a minute. BethAnn has golden blond hair and blue eyes. Her current goal in the story is to keep herself and her sister safe. She is a helpful person. She treats all people kindly and doesn’t think of some people as better than others.

Alexis: What was the terrible mistake that BethAnn made and why is she in grief?

Mary: When BethAnn’s other sisters and parents got gravely ill with diphtheria, she mistakenly allowed the wrong sort of man to help her with medical expenses and then funeral costs. Her other sisters and parents died, thus the reason for her grieving. So now it is just herself and her little sister, Molly.

Alexis: How old are BethAnn and her younger sister? Why are they on the run?

Mary: Hold on a second while I look that up, BethAnn is in her early twenties. Her sister is twelve. They’re on the run because the man who gave BethAnn money to pay for medical treatment for her family is demanding repayment . . . in one form or another. He’s not a nice fellow.

Alexis: Why does BethAnn believe that she needs to find a strong man to protect she and her sister?

Mary: Because the man she owes money to is coming after her, and she mistakenly believes that only a “big, strong man” can protect her from this other man.

Alexis: Fox is the hero of this story. Tell us about his looks, personality, and heart. What makes him “An Unlikely Hero”?

Mary: He has red hair, “kind, gentle green eyes with flecks of gold,” and is small in stature. Think horse jockey. He has a quiet personality and the heart of a romantic. He has a knack for drawing and fills his sketchbook with secret drawings of BethAnn. What makes him “An Unlikely Hero”? His size, but not his heart.

Alexis: How did Fox start riding for the Pony Express and how long has he done that?

Mary: When the Pony Express first started looking for riders, Fox answered the recruiting poster asking for “Young, Skinny, Wiry Fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” This was the one place that Fox’s smaller size was wanted and needed. There were riders over eighteen even up towards thirty, but most were teenaged boys. Fox joined at the beginning, so since April of 1860. The Pony Express ran for about eighteen months. My story takes place near the end of the Pony Express, which ended in October of 1861, so he’s been riding for them for over a year.

Alexis: Describe BethAnn and Fox’s meet-cute. What draws them together and what keeps them together?

Mary: BethAnn’s sister nearly gets run down by a speeding Pony Express horse and rider with the setting sun in his eyes. Fox swoops in from out of the shadows and gets her sister out of harm’s way and rolls her to safety. BethAnn approaches and thanks him profusely. This event draws them together, and both being at the station keeps them together.

Alexis: What is it about BethAnn that makes Fox fall in love with her?

Mary: Her appreciation for him. Because of his smaller size, no one had ever appreciated anything he did. Her kind heart and willingness to help others.

Alexis: What is it about Fox that BethAnn admires? Explain.

Mary: His quiet way and his willingness to risk his life for a stranger. His kind heart and helpfulness. His actions and sketches speak more than his words because he doesn’t do a lot of talking. When he isn’t on a ride, he’s near to BethAnn and her sister, helping them in various ways. He helps them in the garden and teaches Molly to sketch.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story and how does it affect the ending?

Mary: Both BethAnn and Fox are Christians and believe the good things that happen are because of God. If they both didn’t believe in God, I don’t know that they would get together at the end. BethAnn might not have stayed as long as she did if the Lord didn’t make her feel safe at the station, and Fox would have left when he felt BethAnn thought poorly of him and wouldn’t likely fall in love with him.

Alexis: As the author, how does your faith in God in the real world affect your fictional storytelling?

Mary: Every story I write is through the filter of knowing a loving God who never gives up on me and sees more than what is on the outside.

Alexis: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?

Mary: Creating a believable hero from a jockey-sized man. But I believe I’ve succeeded in creating a man who measures up to hero status regardless of his height.

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Mary: Don’t judge a book by its cover or, in this case, a hero by his size.

Alexis: If you were not a writer, what would you like to be? Why?

Mary: A craft teacher. I love to sew, quilt, and do various other crafts. Being able to help someone else create something wonderful out of this and that is quite rewarding.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Mary! God bless you. 

Mary: You’re welcome! I had fun!

Author bio: 
Award-winning novelist Mary Davis has over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. 

She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups. 

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. 

She has three adult children and one grandchild.

Book Blurb for Mary's story inside The Pony Express Romance Collection: 

In "An Unlikely Hero", BethAnn is running from a mistake and finds security at a Pony Express station and love in the quiet affection of a shy Pony Express rider known as the “Fox.”

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Wow! I think I already fell in love with an unlikely hero! Lol. My husband definitely wasn't on my radar, and I'm so thankful!

  2. Hi PhDMama, I'm glad you already like my hero. He was fun to write. He's different sort of hero but still very heroic.

  3. What a great lesson about love - the way God wants us to love. I can't wait to read "An Unlikely Hero!"

    1. Hi Erin, I for one am glad that God is so much better at this love thing than we are. I strive to love others better with His help. I enjoyed writing "An Unlikely Hero."

  4. An Unlikely Hero is sure to reached romantic hearts everywhere. It's awesome to find heroes in all sorts of places, including on the back of a horse!


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