"A true-to-life family saga set in the contemporary west that is both endearing and well written. You won't want to miss this compelling tale by Ricki Wilson."
~ The Kindle Book Review
ABOUT MAGGIES FALL:
Maggie McClellan lived the best of two worlds: her corporate profession as a PR director for a world renowned boot maker, and her frequent escapes to the serenity of the
Ten years later, Maggie is back on her feet, but someone is threatening to take it all away. Maggie is not just fighting to save a ranch, she is fighting to save a home, a way of life, and not just for herself, but for her son and the makeshift family who has stood beside her through all storms.
Maggie is that literary character whom readers cheer for. Taking little and giving all, Maggie's story inspires hope and reminds us of the sheer satisfaction of just following through, of fighting a battle to its final outcome, when, win or lose, we can know that we put up the good fight.
Thank you for inviting me for an interview. We’ve been so busy getting the ranch ready for summer visitors; it’s nice to sit down with a cup of coffee and spend a little reflective time.
Thanks for coming by. I’m thrilled you agreed to meet with me. I’m excited to find out more about you. Ready to get started? First, tell us about your family.
My mom and dad, Mick and Anna, built the M-Bar Hereford Ranch from the ground up. I miss them every day. After their deaths, I could have done the sensible thing and sold out. From a logical standpoint, there wasn’t much here. After the debts were paid off, it was really just a rundown house and a lot of land, but it was my land, and I couldn’t let it go. What you see now, the guest ranch, my Dad never would have approved, but it was the only way I could save the M-Bar, and I didn’t do it alone. My new family, the people who have stuck beside me when it was crazy to do so, this is their ranch as much as it’s mine. Martha came to the ranch to help mom when I was just an infant, now she fills in as surrogate mom and she absolutely is in charge of the house. Jonah came to the ranch as a hired hand when I was in grade-school. Now he’s the ranch manager and my rock. Don’t tell him I said that. He’ll tease me relentlessly. And, of course, the most important guy in my life is my son, T.J. He’s just a great kid, and he’s so much like his grandpa. I wish they could have known one another. I also count my best friend, Witt. We grew up together. He’s a banker now, and I wouldn’t be able to do all this without his help. And I have to include Sis, my mare, and Jett. I would say Jett is our dog, but I think we’re his people. So, that’s the M- family, the family who saved this ranch—the family who saved me.
How wonderful that sounds! Who is your favorite author?
When I was at UTEP, I really got into the classics – Fitzgerald, Faulkner, you know, but I think my favorite from that group was Steinbeck. I always get a sense of his respect for the land. But I have to say, Larry McMurtry is my favorite contemporary author. I read Lonesome Dove when it first came out, and I’ve probably read it five times over the last four years. My copy is nearly destroyed. I love to carry it along when I take a young horse out for a long ride.
Lonesome Dove is one of my favorites, too. I’ve read the book twice and have the mini series on tape! That is so neat. Well, I guess it’s time to move on to my next question. If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
My mom. I never gave her enough credit for how she handled Mick. Daddy was very demanding and real short-sighted. I used to wish that Mom would stand up for herself more, but I know now that it was her love and patience that brought balance to the ranch. She had a quiet strength about her. I regret never telling her how much I admire her.
Do you have any special routines or rituals?
The ranch wouldn’t survive if we didn’t stick to routines. We have schedules for everything: feeding, mucking, riding, shoeing, clipping—it’s a long list. We start at daylight, and there are no days off. Every morning, while I’m having my coffee, I make a list of what we need to get done that day. Jonah would tell you this is a ritual, but I think it’s just good to be organized.
What makes you happy?
This ranch, my makeshift family, hanging out in the barn with my mare, Sis, sitting on the porch and watching the sun come up and talking to Jett, the dog who took me in—I’m surrounded by happiness. Mostly, though, T.J. makes me happy. He’s just my whole world. Sometimes I just hang back and watch him when he’s riding Rainbo or fishing with Jett or telling Jonah about some wild adventure he’s imagined—he’s an amazing kid.
What is the next big thing?
Expansion. After ten years, we finally have the M- on its feet. We’re still a little wobbly, but I think this is the year to take a few steps towards improvements. There’s a little meadow just south of the main house that I’d like to incorporate into the trail rides, and I’m planning to increase the herd of trail horses. Some day I’d like to build guest cabins for the summer campers, but that’s a ways off. I’d also like to buy a few head of cattle and try to rebuild what my dad started, but all of that’s a long ways down the road. My immediate plans are to have a campout with T.J. Today’s the last day of school and we like to celebrate by riding the horses across the west pasture, making a little campfire and sleeping under the stars. We’re making new memories on the M-Bar.
That sounds wonderful! I wish you the very best with all your dreams. Thanks again, for taking this time to talk with me today. I’ve enjoyed it and appreciate getting to find out more about you.
I have had the privilege of knowing some very fine animals in my life, and it is they who first inspired Maggie’s Fall. I found myself in a place where I needed something un-taxing and uplifting to read, so I started writing it. Once I met Maggie and her makeshift family, all I had to do was listen and try to do justice to the story that was playing out in my mind.
I could not bring myself to write “The End” on the last page of Maggie’s Fall. I’m not quite ready to let go of these characters. Maggie’s Stand is nearly finished!
This is a picture of me with my dad in the late 1960s. The horse is Chief Little Red, the dog is Prince.