Sarah J. McNeal
Grandfather McNeal’s Trunk
It’s funny how an everyday, ordinary things we take for granted can set off a whole series of stories. Such is the case with my Grandfather McNeal’s trunk.
One day I was just hanging out playing a tune on my harmonica. The harmonica was one given to me by my dad years ago when I was a kid. We used to play tunes together like Shenandoah, a favorite of mine. I had my feet propped up on my Grandfather McNeal’s old trunk where mementos were kept of each generation from way, way back including pictures, old watches, pipes and rodeo posters from Ranch 101. I was struck with an idea of how amazing and wonderful it would be if everything in the family trunk was new. What if I could go back to the time my father talked about, a time when townspeople socialized at church picnics and listened to a radio show at a friend’s house or went to the local amusement park for a night of fun? It seemed so cozy, so comfortable and peaceful.
My mental wheels began to turn. What if my heroine found a trunk like Grandfather McNeal’s, full of history and mystery? What if she tried on some clothes and a wedding band and accidently fell into the trunk? And what if that trunk possessed the magic to take her back to a pivotal point in history and she met the love of her life?
That family trunk inspired me to write Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. I had no idea that that book would lead me to write the sequel, For Love of Banjo, and then more stories about the generations of Wildings that would follow. Well, such is the magic of my grandfather’s trunk.
I am so happy that, even though I was only 7 when he died, I had a chance to know Grandfather McNeal. He was a post Civil War baby, born in 1866. I think about that sometimes and think how amazing it was that I had the chance to know him. He was an educated man, a teacher who had to earn his “real” living painting barns and houses. Because he never owned a horse or a car, he walked everywhere. I remember him as patient and kind, a very well-read man with old fashioned manners who still wore suspenders until he died. The trunk he thoughtfully put together, has been my inspiration for the Wildings of Wyoming and The Violin, a 1927 time travel story based on the life and death of my dad’s middle brother, John Douglas McNeal.
I think many of us draw our stories from our histories, those stories passed down to us or discovered by accident. What were some of your stories created from your family’s history?
Joe’s Reluctant Bride
A haunted plantation… A trunk… And a date with destiny.
When Lola Barton inherits a rundown plantation, she believes her life has finally taken a positive turn. But, when she finds a mysterious trunk in the attic, it takes her into the past and to a man with dark secrets—and she’s married to him.
FLY AWAY HEART
The Great Depression…Rum Runners and Old Fears…Love Against the Odds
Lilith Wilding can’t remember a time when she didn’t love the English born Robin Pierpont, but she knows he loves another so she hides her feelings beneath a hard veneer of self-protection.
Robin Pierpont dreams of flying airplanes and winning the heart of the one he loves, but when he gets involved in illegal rum running to help a friend, those dreams seem to turn into just a fantasy. When he is called upon to face his worst fear to save Lilith’s life, his fate may be sealed in death.
The revised re-release of FOR LOVE OF BANJO will be coming soon.
The anthologies for Christmas and Valentine from Prairie Rose Publictions, WISHING FOR A COWBOY and HEARTS AND SPURS also contain stories of my Wilding family.
Sarah McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery, Victory Tales Press, Prairie Rose Publications and Painted Pony Books, an imprint of Prairie Rose Publications. She welcomes you to her website at