Message From The Author
Pamela Clare Shares the Incredible Journey Behind her Debut
It was July 28, 1994. My father, a mountain-climbing instructor and lifelong climber, was taking me on a four-day backpacking trip through the Rocky Mountains, near my home in Boulder, Colorado. The trip was my birthday present from him, a chance to get away from the responsibilities of motherhood and be a daughter again.
We started out at 5 am, early enough to watch herds of bighorn sheep grazing in the tundra. We had a lot to talk about. I had just won First Place in Colorado Romance Writers' Heart of the Rockies contest for the first two chapters of my historical manuscript, now titled SWEET RELEASE. After several hours of hiking along the Continental Divide, we began to descend Mount Ida. We needed to move quickly, as a thunderstorm was moving in.
After climbing down high lava cliffs, we ran into an unexpected 20-foot wall of ice that dropped to a steep rockslide area strewn with boulders. I had never climbed ice before, but it seemed to pose no problem for my father, who crawled down it like Spider-Man. I tried to shout for instructions, but he couldn't hear me, thanks to the wind and thunder. I decided to do what I'd seen him do. I climbed to the edge, reached down with one leg—and fell.
I heard my father yell my name. I felt myself hit rock. Bones and ligaments snapped. The world was a gray blur around me as I hit and bounced, hit and bounced. The next thing I knew I was sitting with one leg wrapped around a rock, unable to talk, unable to move, unable to respond to my father, who was trying desperately to assess my injuries.
That was the end of our climb. I fell 40 feet and was severely injured. I had to be airlifted to the hospital by helicopter, but I had to wait eight hours and climb for an additional hour and half with my injuries. We were in such a remote and vertical location, the rescue team couldn't help me until we got further down. I had a brain injury, three broken ribs, a broken tibia, a torn Achilles tendon, a ruptured quadriceps and sprains and bruises too numerous to name. I had survived a statistically unsurvivable fall.
The next years were a haze of painkillers and physical therapy, as my body tried to mend itself. I had no energy to write, and my chapters languished in a dusty computer. To make matters worse, my marriage of 10 years had fallen apart. Within a year, we were divorced. Although the divorce was amicable and we shared custody of our two sons, it wasn't easy. I worked full-time at a local newspaper, struggled to make ends meet.
By 1996, my two chapters had grown to just six, and I wondered if I would ever finish. I loved my hero and heroine—Cassie and Alec—but with a full-time job, physical therapy and two small children, I could carve out only
a couple of hours each weekend to write. As often as not, I used
those hours to sleep.
Hopeless, I gave up. I decided I couldn't do it. My dreams of writing
fiction would have to wait until my children were grown.
And then I got a letter dated April 24, 1730—a letter
from Alec, my hero: "It pains both me and my love, Cassie, to hear of your doubts," wrote my hero. "You are a storyteller, a weaver of tales. Listen to the cadence of our love—Cassie's and mine—in your soul. Trust in it, because we have trust in
you. You will finish this book."
I read the two-page letter, tears pouring down my face as Alec's kind words urged me to take up the story again. My ex-husband had written those words. His display of deep faith in my dreams touched me in a way I will never forget. I tossed hopelessness aside, carved out every spare minute I could to write. Slowly, my manuscript grew.
I finished SWEET RELEASE in April 2001. It sold a year later to Leisure Books. When I got my cover flat and saw Cassie and Alec come to life, I couldn't hold back the tears. There they were, beautifully rendered and standing together, when I had almost given up on them.
I continue to have problems with my old injuries. Despite physical limitations, I recently climbed Mount Ida again and looked down on the place where I almost died. Standing there was indescribable, as is seeing my novel on bookstore shelves. I now have a plaque on my bedroom wall to remind me of what I almost forgot: Believing is the first step to making your dreams come true. G
For more on SWEET RELEASE and Pam's next release Carnal Gift: www.pamelaclare.com.
Read Book Review ›