Interview with Calliope Jeffers from Donna Schlacter’s Calli

Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Calliope. What can you tell us about yourself?

Calli: Thanks so much. I’m glad to be here. Let me introduce myself. My name is Calliope Jeffers, but everybody calls me Calli. I guess you’d call me the heroine of the story, although that makes me sound so brave, and I’m anything but. You could call me the love interest, but that would be telling the end before the beginning. I’m a recent widow, my husband having died suddenly on duty here where we live in Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory. I’m stepping out in baby steps, figuring out what comes next.

Novel PASTimes: Okay, Calli. Please tell us something about where you live.

Calli: As I said, Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory. It’s an exciting time, 1870. There are still wagon trains heading west. Not so many as there used to be, I’m told. The fort is a popular stopping point for supplies, medical care, a blacksmith, and the town itself has several saloons, although I’ve not seen them personally. There are more than a hundred men stationed here, plus a good many civilian employees and military wives. Even a few children.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a cherished possession?  

Calli: The Bible my parents gave me. When my husband was stationed in Fort Bridger, he said I could bring one suitcase. Can you imagine? How to choose amongst my beautiful dresses, coats, hats, and shoes? But, as he reminded me, we would have nowhere to wear such fripperies, and so there was no point in bringing them. So instead, I filled my suitcase with medical books. And my Bible. It’s the only thing I have from them. I still had room for two dresses, a pair of boots, underclothing (which I won’t mention here), and essentials such as a hairbrush and hair pins.

Novel PASTimes: How do you feel about your occupation? 

Calli:  I love being a nurse. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to help people. Of course, back then, boys grew up to be doctors, and girls grew up to be nurses. Perhaps one day, that won’t be true. I do almost all the same things Doc Wheldon would do if he were there, which he often isn’t. And while I can, I still like the personal care of the patient, listening to them, talking to them, writing letters home for them. Most of my patients are soldiers and their wives, both of whom have made a huge sacrifice to serve their country. We should keep them in our prayers.

Novel PASTimes: What is your deepest, most closely held secret? 

Calli:  I struggle with the fact that I loved my husband so deeply that in simply looking at another man, I’m doing both a disservice. Yes, I understand marriage is “til death do us part”, but every time I see Bradley Wilson, I think of my husband. The only thing I can do is trust that God has a plan, and if Mr. Wilson is part of that, then love will come again. How lucky a woman could I be, to love deeply and eternally twice in this life!

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a personal relationship with the Lord? 

Calli:  I thought I did. I mean, I prayed. Read my Bible. Went to church. But when my husband died, I was angry with Him. He could have saved him, couldn’t He? So why wasn’t he worth saving? That’s what I wanted to know. And the platitudes from the women at the fort didn’t help. God needed another angel. Then why didn’t He simply make another like He did with the first of creation? I was certain my husband died because I didn’t have enough faith.

Novel PASTimes: Has it changed? Why? 

Calli:  When I had that tiny baby depending on me, seeing the way she needed me for food, changing her diaper, keeping her safe, I saw what God wanted to have with me. When I didn’t have what she needed, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t depend on somebody else to save us—I had to turn back to God. Knowing I’m a daughter of the King of kings has changed my life.

Novel PASTimes: That makes a big difference, I agree! What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

Calli:  I’m told I shouldn’t give away the end of the story but suffice it to say that now that my relationship with God has deepened, I know He will be with me all the way. Currently, there are several bright opportunities on the horizon, placed there by God, planned by Him especially for me, so whatever happens, it is well with my soul. Hmm. That sounds like another great hymn in the making.

Novel PASTimes: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

Calli:  I’ve learned that the only One I can truly trust in is God. I’m an independent woman, secure in my profession, able to earn a living for myself. When my husband died, I thought, “Well, this is just another chapter in my life. I must move on and do what I need.” But I couldn’t forget my husband. He seemed in my thoughts every day. And when I met Mr. Wilson, I found myself comparing him to my husband. And always falling short. I realized that unless I had a deep and meaningful relationship with God, unless I trusted in His Son Jesus, I would always fall short in God’s eyes, too. So please, if you haven’t surrendered your life to God and your heart to Jesus, do so. It’s simple. Here’s a short prayer: Dear God, I know I’ve ignored You for a long time. But I give my life to You. Do with it what you will. And Jesus, I know you paid the price for my sin. Please forgive me. I will strive to follow you all the days of my life. Amen. Next, tell somebody of your decision, then find a Bible-believing church. If you’d like to share with me, you can contact me at donna AT livebytheword DOT com



Calli works as a nurse with the US Army at Fort Bridger, Wyoming in 1880. When a wagon train full of discouraged emigrants passes through on its way east, a pregnant widow delivers her baby then dies. Bradley Wilson, leading this train, has few options. He asks Calli to travel with them until they find a relative to take the child in St. Joe, Missouri. Calli, drawn to both this dark and quiet man and the child, resists. But when she disappears, he wonders if she’s run away or been kidnapped. Can these two put their pasts behind them and move into a new future together? Or will Calli insist on having things her own way?



A hybrid author, Donna Schlachter writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter at my website!

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