Wednesday Writers welcomes June Foster back to the blog. June will be talking about The Story Behind the Story of her contemporary romance novel Dreams Deferred. Welcome back, June!
Dreams Deferred is inspired by the true-to-life story of my great grandfather and great grandmother. I chose to set it in contemporary times, nevertheless, I borrowed many of the story elements from the true story.
Frances Mathew Halbedl grew up in the European Austrian Empire and followed tradition in which the oldest son became a priest in his family’s Catholic faith. After being ordained in Moravia, he immigrated to the United States in 1866 to serve in a parish in the state of Louisiana.
My aunt and mother always told the story of how one Sunday while saying Mass, he spotted a young teen, much younger than my Mary Louise. He waited several years for her to grow up then stepped down from the priesthood to marry her. I wish I knew some of those rich details of their courtship, but since I don’t, I fictionalized their romance.
They later moved to San Antonio, Texas, and had five children, three girls and two boys—Ida, Mamie, Alice, Roy, and Clifton, who was my grandfather. Just for fun in one scene, I imagined that Matt had a dream he was riding in a car with Mary Louise and the three youngest kids. In my story, the dream helped him realize how much he loved Mary Louise.
Mathew taught music both in the public school and privately. Later he became the first principal of a high school in San Antonio. In December of 2005, my husband and I visited San Antonio and looked up Matthew and Mary Louise’s house. The large, two-story home is still there on Roseborough Drive. We weren’t able to go in because it’s a private residence. But I had so much fun envisioning Matt and ML’s lives as they lived there with their children.
We also visited Clifton Halbedl’s home, which I remember from childhood. I also had the address for Mamie’s home, and we were able to go inside. A gracious lady who spoke no English invited us in. I have tons of pictures and hope to share them on my blog.
In the story, Matt gets a job at Jefferson High School. This is patterned after Thomas Jefferson High School where my mother went to school. Her name was Mary Louise, as well, named for her grandmother.
If I’ve learned anything from writing this book, I wish I’d probed for more information when my mother and aunt were still alive, but I’m grateful for what I do know.
By June Foster
Father Matt Hall wants to serve the Lord. School teacher Mary Louise Graham needs freedom from her unforgivable past. They never expect to fall in love.
The evening breeze lifted a strand of his dark hair, and he ran his hand over the back of his neck. “I’ve always loved music, especially the violin and performing with the symphony. I believe God can use our talents for what He wants to accomplish.”
“How could God use the San Antonio Symphony for His purpose?”
“I don’t mean specifically the symphony.” He stared at something over her shoulder. “But music in general.”
“I don’t understand.”
He lowered his gaze and captured hers, his eyes magnetic. “I haven’t discussed this with many people, but I have a heart for teenage kids. Especially those who’re destroying their lives with drugs.”
“Hmm. How does that relate to music?”
A slow smile worked its way over Father Matt’s lips. “I’ve always wanted to begin a ministry teaching underprivileged kids to play an instrument and involve them in an orchestra. To instill in them the joy and transforming power of music. If teens are busy learning the trombone or flute, they might not have time to hang out on the streets and become vulnerable to drug use.”
She hadn’t heard of the concept before, but it sounded wonderful. Something or Someone must’ve put the desire in his heart. “Have drugs impacted your life?”
“Yes, you might say that. It was in high school. I had a friend who overdosed and died.” He turned his back to her a moment, maybe in an attempt to hide his emotion. After a few seconds, he faced her again, his gaze focused on something over her shoulder. “Carlos and I were good friends but not close enough, apparently. I thought I knew him, but I didn’t. He never told me he took street drugs.”
Mary Louise reached toward him then yanked her hand to her side again. How could she think of touching a priest, even if she’d only wanted to comfort him? “I’m so sorry.”
“I think God used the incident to put the desire in my heart. The memory is always with me, and the longing to help young people is stronger than ever.”
“You’re very close to God.” A position she’d give anything to enjoy.
“Yes, but anyone can draw near to Him.”
Mary Louise didn’t care if she stared now, searching every inch of his beautiful face—from his short, dark hair to his prickly cheeks to his masculine lips. If only she had access into his heart and the treasures he stored there.
Want to read more? You can find Dreams Deferred here.
About the Author:
June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next contemporary romance or romantic suspense. June’s characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. To date June has seen publication of 19 novels and 1 devotional. Find June at junefoster.com.