Meet Richard Stevens from Kathleen Denly’s Sing in the Sunlight

After hearing several interesting rumors about Richard Stevens, I decided to track him down for a few answers. I found him on Montgomery Street.

Good afternoon, Mr. Stevens. I was wondering if I might have a moment of your time to ask a few questions on behalf of our Novel PASTimes readers. 

I was just about to dine at this restaurant. If you don’t mind joining me, I’m happy to answer your questions. Although, I can’t imagine why your readers would be interested in me.

I followed Mr. Stevens into the restaurant and we were seated at a long table beside several other hungry men. It was a bit noisy, but I managed to speak above the din as we waited for our food.

Well, to begin, someone informed me that you have a connection to one of our previous interviewees—a Miss Eliza Brooks. Is that so?

She’s Mrs. Clarke now, but my connection isn’t so much with her as with her husband. We grew up together in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Did the two of you come to California together? 

No, he came years before I did. Do you mind if I pray before we eat?

Of course not. Go right ahead. 

Richard bowed his head to silently pray before nodding that I could continue.  

I’ve heard rumors of scandals involving your family back east. Something about your father’s drunken temper and your mother falling down a flight of stairs. 

Who told you that? 

It’s true then? Did you come west to get away from your father?

Listen, I agreed to answer your questions about me. Leave my family out of it or this interview is through.

Of course, my apologies. I was just trying to establish your reason for coming to California.

I escorted my sister here, but before you ask, I’m not going to talk about why she came. I stayed because of the opportunities available to me here that I couldn’t find back east. The people here, the life…it’s very different from the parlor visits and society dinners I grew up with. I know I can make a difference here, but…

Stevens’s words trailed off as our food arrived. Once the waiter had gone, I encouraged him to continue.

But what?

Forget it. What’s your next question?

I understand you’re now the owner of the Prosperity Mine in Nevada City. Can you tell me how that came to be?

There was an accident last year that took the previous owner’s son. Mr. Pollack and his wife decided to move back east and sold me the mine. 

Why you? Certainly there were others able to offer a better price for such a valuable enterprise. If you’d been working for them you couldn’t have saved up that much money. Unless you have family money…?

That wasn’t it. Mr. Pollack didn’t trust another investor not to cut corners. He was a good man who cared about the men that worked for him. He knew that, having worked there for two years, I knew what changes were needed to see that another accident didn’t happen. He trusted me to get it done.

That says a lot about you. Tell me, is it true you’ve hired a female as your secretary?

Yes. I encountered Miss Bennetti on a trip to San Francisco a few months ago. She was in need of a job and I was in need of a secretary. She has proven herself to be an excellent employee. I couldn’t be more pleased with her work. 

There are several who think you hired her with ulterior motives. Your miners claim they aren’t allowed to even speak to her because you’re planning to propose marriage to her.

When did you speak with my men? Forget it. Wherever you heard that nonsense, it simply isn’t true. My relationship with Miss Bennetti is strictly professional. In fact, I’ve recently learned she’s formed an attachment with…well, I’d better not say. I’m not sure they’ve made their announcement yet. 

Hmm. If not your secretary, perhaps you’re romantic interests lay with this Miss Johnson you’ve been searching for? I hear you’ve been knocking on doors all over the city. 

I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed again. I’m looking for Fletcher Johnson—a man. 

Hmm. Just a moment while I check my notes. Ah, yes, my apologies. It’s a Mr. Johnson and a Miss Humphrey whom you’ve been asking about. Is she the one—?

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I thought you were going to ask questions about me, maybe about the mine or…I don’t know, what. But so far you’ve insulted my family and continued to poke your nose into topics that are none of your business. I think this interview is through. 

But you didn’t answer—

My food’s getting cold. 

I tried several more times to get Mr. Stevens talking again, but he just kept eating in silence. When he was through, he smiled politely, thanked me for my company, and took his leave.


Kathleen Denly writes historical romance stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.

Social Media Links:

Website | Newsletter | FB Author Page FB Reader Group

 Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | BookBub | Amazon

An Interview with Eliza Brooks from Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly

Good afternoon, miss. I can see you’re in a hurry, but can you spare a moment to answer a few questions for the readers of Novel PASTimes?

Yes, but only a few, I’m anxious to board my ship.

Of course, as are most of the people we’ve spoken with on the wharf today. Shall we begin with your name?

My name is Eliza Brooks—though some folks may know me as Eli. 

That’s a rather unusual name for young lady. 

Well, Aunt Cecilia doesn’t like me to talk about it, but I spent some time working the gold fields with Pa. He thought it’d be safer for me to dress as a boy while we were there. Using my full name would have given the pie away, so we shortened it.

I find it difficult to believe a woman as lovely as you managed to pass herself off as a boy. 

Well, that was a few years back. Things have changed a lot since then. 

Eliza is a lovely name. Is there a story behind it?

I was named after my grandmother—Pa’s ma. Her name was Elizabeth and at first my parents wanted to name me that, but grandma insisted it would be too confusing. So they shortened it to Eliza.

Are you close with your grandmother?
She passed on a few years back. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much more than her pretty smile and warm hugs. She lived in Ohio and my folks moved us out west when I was just seven because Ma had a hankering for adventure and Pa never could tell her no.

He must really love her.

More than you can know. I only hope I can someday find someone to love and who loves me as much they loved each other. You should have seen them waltz. It was like you’d imagine in the fairytales—the ones that fancy tutor read. He had a funny English accent and was supposed to be turning me into a lady, but I drove him so crazy, he finally gave up and started reading in the corner every day until my aunt caught him at it and fired him. Poor man. It wasn’t his fault I had no interest in things like serving a proper tea. Why a person can’t just fill the cups, pass them out, and let people add their own cream or sugar or honey or whatever, I’ll never understand. 

Is it safe to assume you and your aunt don’t get along well?

That’s putting it mildly. She’s been trying to get rid of me since the day we met. Lately she’s been trying to marry me off to anyone dumb enough to accept her supper invitations. 

I’m sorry to hear that.

Thanks, but I’d rather not talk about her anymore. She just did something… Look, Can we please just talk about something else?

No problem. It sounds like you’ve lived something of an adventurous life, traveling from Ohio, living in the gold fields, and now you’re in San Francisco. 

Pa and I lived in Oregon, too, before we came to California.

Were you homesteaders there?

We were and I loved it. It’s so beautiful, so peaceful. No dirty miners turning the rivers to muck and scaring off all the game. No noisy street vendors or drunks wandering the streets. Just the trees and the birds and the little cabin Pa and I built together.

Is that where you’re off to now?

No, I’m boarding the Virginia bound for San Diego. 

Where’s your escort?

I’ll be traveling with the captain’s wife. She’s waiting for me onboard. Speaking of which, I’d better get going. 

Please wait. I only have a few more questions.

*tapping her foot* Very well, but make it quick. This carpetbag is getting heavy. 

What draws you to such a small port town like San Diego?

My pa is there.

You appear anxious. What’s troubling you?

I haven’t received a letter from him in months. 

Is that unsual?

Yes! Why does no one understand that? Pa would never just stop writing me without explanation. Something has happened and I must find him. He needs me.

Find him? I thought you said he was in San Diego. 

Well, that’s where his last letter said he was going to look for work. 

But you said it’s been months since you received that letter. Wouldn’t he have moved on by now?

Of course, he may have moved on, but it’s the only clue I have and I’ve got to start somewhere. I can’t just keep waiting when he might be lying on his sickbed somewhere, wishing I would to come to him. Wouldn’t you go if you’re pa were missing?

My pa can handle himself. 

Well, mine can’t. Not really. He forgets to eat, to sleep. He works himself until he’s sick if I’m not there to remind him to take a break.

What if you don’t find him?

willfind him.

I say, who is that gentleman glaring down at us from the deck of the Virginia?

Oh, that’s just Mr. Clarke. He’s a carpenter who used to work for my uncle but Mr. Clarke’s headed back east now. Apparently his fiancée is waiting for him.  

He doesn’t appear pleased to see you.

There was a misunderstanding when he came to supper at my aunt and uncle’s house a couple weeks ago. I’d rather not discuss it. In fact, I really must board now. The captain’s wife will be wondering where I am.

Very well. Thank you for taking this time to speak with us, Miss. Brooks. I wish you a safe journey and will pray that you find your father healthy and happy to see you.

I appreciate that. Good day.

Kathleen Denly writes stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. She enjoys finding the lesser known pockets of history and bringing them to life through the joys and struggles of her characters.

Sunny southern California, a favorite setting in her stories, is also her home. She lives there with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories.

Kathleen’s debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness,released February 4, 2020 and is available wherever books are sold.

When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, she spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

Kathleen is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the San Diego Christian Writers’ Guild.

Always happy to hear from her readers, you can email Kathleen and follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. You might also consider joining Kathleen’s Readers’ Clubto learn the latest updates, receive exclusive content and be eligible for KRC exclusive giveaways!