Beehives — Why?

Every mind is unique. We each like certain things and dislike others; we are intrigued by some things, bored by others. The argument as to whether these preferences are environmental or genetic or something else entirely could go on for hours. There is even debate about whether such preferences can be changed by experience and/or education.

For a writer, life is all about these preferences. I’ve always been curious and that curiosity has caused me to sometimes test boundaries or step out when others would not advise it. Truthfully, looking back, I wonder about some of my choices, and feel lucky to have gone on to live another day with only a bruise or two.

Beehives is my next book, and I’ve already been asked: why that story? why that place? why that title?

It all goes back to my curiosity. I visited Osage Hills State Park in north central Oklahoma for the first time back in my twenties. I was working for Oklahoma State Parks as a park planner, and I was on a mission to determine what parks in the system needed historic signage. Osage Hills was on my list.

I remember arriving there in the fall, and finding a beautiful woodland park, and a rocky stream where water ran over boulders to create small waterfalls. I stayed in one of the cabins and walked the park, considering what this place had to offer people interested in history.

For one, the park was one of the original seven state parks in Oklahoma, and was built by the WPA’s Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Cabins, picnic shelters and bath houses were all built of native stone and timbers by men enrolled in the CCC during the Depression. How could these massive rocks have been cut, moved and positioned by these men? Yes, there was history here. And yes, it was worth telling.

I also learned about the history of Osage county – the outlaws, the Osages and oil. As a native Oklahoman, that history runs through my veins.

I didn’t get to tell that history in signage back then, but I didn’t lose that nugget of interest. When it came time to search for a locale and a story for Jamie Aldrich’s third adventure in the Family Secret Series, Osage Hills State Park popped to the front of my mind. And entwining the histories of the CCC workers and the Depression-era outlaws seemed a logical plot line for my story.

But, what about the bees? (And for that matter, why ‘cobwebs’ and ‘ant dens’ in previous books?) I have to admit something to you. Even as a nature lover, there are things that creep me out. I try to love insects, I really do. But I don’t. And I can’t imagine anything creepier then getting ensnared in a cobweb or crawling through a tunnel (ant den) or – spoiler here – getting trapped in a hut full of bees. So I made some of the characters beekeepers and some of the extras – bees. Buzzzz. Shiver. (Poor Jamie.)

Stay tuned in coming weeks for interviews with the characters!

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