|Join the adventure on Oct. 23|
His greatest adventure is about to catch up with him.
Steamboat pilot Huck Finn lives life on his terms and steers clear of messy entanglements that might tie him down—until he takes charge of an orphaned boy that needs rescuing.
Starched and proper, Miss Hallie MacBride is determined to atone for past sins by raising her estranged sister’s son. She doesn’t expect footloose Mr. Finn to challenge her, much less up and run off with her nephew.
On a wild journey fraught with danger, a freedom-loving adventurer and an avowed spinster battle over the destiny of a young boy, who is doing his level best to convince them they belong together.
Embark on an unforgettable adventure from award-winning author E.E. Burke in a novel inspired by one of America’s most beloved characters.
June 2, 1870, Atchison, Kansas
“What you layin’ in there for, mister?”
A childish voice disturbed Huck’s sleep. He screwed his eyes tightly shut, willing his mind to return to dreams of pleasanter things than inquisitive children.
Something struck the bottom of his boot.
He jerked awake, his head connecting with a crack against the inside of the hogshead barrel. “Ow! Blame it.”
Gingerly, he touched a rising lump and grimaced at the painful reminder of where he’d ended up. After celebrating into the wee hours, it appeared a convenient place to await the next packet chugging up the Missouri River. Sobriety declared it a bad idea. Only halfwits and drunks slept in discarded barrels. Not men who commanded steamboats.
Curling around, he squinted at the opening where his legs were exposed.
Daylight outlined the figure of a child.
Huck shut his eyes hoping it was just a dream. When he opened them again, the boy had bent to peer inside the barrel.
Gap-toothed smile, snub nose, merry eyes that held the promise of mischief…
“Tom?” Huck rasped.
The boy giggled.
No, he couldn’t possibly be. Tom had been nearly full-grown fifteen years ago.
Huck rubbed his stinging eyes. He must’ve gotten ahold of some bad brew like the Fire Rod his old man used to swig by the jug full. That stuff made Pap see crazier things than a boy that wasn’t there.
The spitting image of Tom laughed again. “Uncle Huck?”
Huck shook his head to clear it. By God, he’d swear off whiskey forever if it brought on these strange imaginings, and it had to be his imagination. Huck Finn weren’t nobody’s uncle.
E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of emotionally powerful historical and contemporary romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers' Best, National Readers' Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA's prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream--writing stories readers can get lost in.
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Where did you get the idea for this story?
Mark Twain’s adventures about the boy, Huckleberry Finn, made me wonder what kind of man Huck would’ve grown up to be. I know others have written books that feature this character and interpreted his adulthood in other ways, but this is the story that Huck gave me when I asked him what happened to him after he “set out for the Territory.”
How did you decide what occupation Huck would have as an adult?
It didn’t seem a far stretch to imagine Huck growing up to be a steamboat pilot. He was most at home on the river and had the temperament and intelligence to learn this challenging job. Of course, I couldn’t write a book about Huck being a steamboat pilot without referring to Twain’s Life On The Mississippi, which is largely based on his own apprenticeship as a riverboat pilot. But the books that really fed my imagination were the diaries of Missouri River pilots.
Why put the story on the Missouri River rather than the Mississippi – the original setting?
In Taming Huck Finn, as in Twain’s original book, the river itself is a character. In this case, it’s Missouri River rather than the Mississippi. In the 1870s, the Upper Missouri River formed a natural boundary between civilization and the frontier. What better place for a riverboat pilot who wants to stay one step ahead of civilization?
The Missouri River of today is nothing like what it was at the time of Huck’s story. Before being dredged and tamed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early twentieth century, the Big Muddy was a wide, wild, unpredictable river. I have a map that shows where steamboats sank along the old path of the river, and it is littered with wrecks. It was a dangerous job to take a steamboat on the Missouri River, and especially the upper river where it was shallower and rocky and prone to flooding. Just the kind of challenge Huck Finn would relish.
When we meet 30-year-old Huck, the era of the steamboat is slowly giving way to the railroad as a young country pushes westward. Huck sees himself and the old boats as relics of a past that is quickly fading. He’s struggling to figure out how he fits into this new world that is catching up with him. Does he keep running? Or does he risk his freedom to have the one thing that’s eluded him all these years?
You’ll have to read the book to find out.
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Are you a fan of Mark Twain's original adventures?
How would you imagine his characters grown up?