Shadows of Brierley, Volume III: A Distant Shore
Since this series for me was about mingling the lives of some pretty great characters with some typical scenarios from church history, I felt a strong impression to take on the challenge of writing about the challenges of the missionaries and their families during those early years. Full-time missions have changed a great deal since then. It was not uncommon for Joseph Smith to ask men to leave their families behind and travel to faraway places to preach the gospel. The faith that it took to make such sacrifices is difficult for me to imagine—or at least until I wrote this book. Writing a story often gives me a strange sense of empathy, as if getting into a character’s head while they are experiencing their trials and struggles allows me to feel what they might feel; not perfectly, of course, but at least enough to portray a story with some emotional accuracy.
After Ian and Wren have gone through so much just to be together and be living in Nauvoo with the Saints, it seems too much that the prophet would now ask Ian to go back to England and be away from his family for a few years. Showing what took place at both ends brings into perspective the challenges and great strength of character it took, and yet many, many families did this.
I had to throw in some miracles and angels, because I know that they are both all around us, and it was a lovely full-circle experience to have Ian go back to his native Scotland and find himself needed to assist in a family crisis. I also love the way this story goes deeper into the bond of friendship shared by Ian and Ward as they embark on this endeavor together.
As I wrote the story I unexpectedly realized how metaphorical a mission can be of the veil that separates us from those loved ones who have passed on. For Ian and Wren their separation was difficult but temporary, just as it would be for a couple who had made eternal vows and lived for those blessings.