Every story has an origin, and Rory’s Choice is no different. The novel stems from one of my mother’s childhood stories.
She grew up on a farm, and on this farm was a horse named Duke. He was an amazing animal in every way, except, he didn’t like being tied up. He would work, and work a rope, rubbing against whatever it was tied to until the rope broke and he was free.
One autumn day, my grandfather took Duke and another horse up the mountain to bring the cows down from the high grazing lands and into the pastures. After the first day of gathering cows, my grandfather tethered Duke to what he thought was a huge railroad tie sticking out of the ground, leaving him to rest. He rode the other horse he had brought back up the mountain to finish the job.
When he came back down with the rest of the cows Duke was gone. My grandfather wasn’t very happy—he thought Duke had broken another rope. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to find Duke. Less than a quarter-mile away, he stood in a shallow pond. When my grandfather began to draw him out, he could see that one of his front hooves had been severed. The railroad tie my grandfather had tethered him to wasn’t as big as he thought.
Like times before, Duke had worked, and worked on the rope, but it didn’t break the line this time, it loosen the tie from the ground. When he galloped away, the chunk of wood he’d pulled up from the ground launched toward him, cutting off a front hoof. Nothing could save that animal, no matter how smart and amazing he was. My grandfather had to put him down, and all because of a bad habit he refused to give up.
Right about here my mother would turn the moral of this story back on us and say, “Remember, it only takes one bad habit—get rid of them before they can destroy your life.”
I didn’t write this novel to recreate that story. In fact for those that have read the novel you know it doesn’t resemble the story at all, although I did give the horse, Duke, in my novel the same flaw and name as a token to the memory of this true story. It was the moral my mother always touted that I wanted to explore. Every character in Rory’s Choice has a flaw, or bad habit. Whether or not they choose to overcome it will determine if they are destroyed or not.