charactersecondtimearoundAn author is supposed to know their characters inside out,so just for fun I decided to do a series of character interviews from my books…

This is my interview with Frank Lamonte from “The Second Time Around” Book I of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series. Enjoy!

Gloria:What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Frank: Many would expect me to say that becoming a veterinarian is my greatest achievement, but becoming a veterinarian is almost an extension of who I am. I love all animals: it pains me to see them hurt and it makes me happy to help them heal. I probably understand animals better than I do humans! Horses are my favorite animal. When you work with them over a period of time, you form a deep friendship, and you will have a friend for life.

I digress here—what is my greatest achievement?

Becoming my own person is probably my biggest achievement, although I didn’t realize it when it was happening. I am an only child. That has its blessings, but it also has its downside. Mom had trouble carrying a child, and after several miscarriages, my parents were thrilled to finally have a baby in their arms. I know my father wanted a son badly—but I am certain that when I was born a girl, Dad took it in stride. He showed no signs of disappointment, and decided I’d make a great son anyway. He named me Frank Lamonte, after his father, and there was never a thought of calling me Fran or even Frankie…I was FRANK.

My poor mother never got to enjoy having a little girl. Probably the only time she got to dress me in dainty pink, was my pajamas when she put me to bed at night, or when we went to church on Sunday morning.

Once I was a toddler, Dad started taking me with him everywhere. We had a small ranch and he let me help him with chores, and I when he went to town for parts for the equipment, or feed for the animals, I would tag along. I went everywhere with him. I became an extension of him.

I grew up in his world and I loved everything about it…the animals, especially the horses. He took me riding, tucked in the saddle in front of him as soon as I could walk, and later he taught me to ride when mom said it was Ok for me to be on a horse by myself. He encouraged me to team rope with our neighbor, and dad’s best friend’s son, Clint Roberts. When I got older, and we went to rodeos, Dad was there, keeping an eye on things, protecting me. Once I had matured into a young woman, he was there to make sure that I didn’t become a “notch” on some rodeo guys belt!

He gave me room to grow—but I was never really independent of him, until I went to vet school. I met Martin Cole when we were team roping and then we both ended up going to vet college. When we got together, the natural urges of a young woman came to life in me. I enjoyed his attention on a romantic and sexual level. I even thought I’d fallen deeply in love, but on another level, it was like slipping my hand into a comfortable pair of gloves. He was a male companion, and that was what I was used to having. He wasn’t like my dad, but when I look back now, I think he became a replacement for him in my life—just on a different level.

I was young, I had never dated… not because dad interfered, although no one would have been good enough for me! I still hung out with guys all the time, I just became one of them. I didn’t relate to girls. They seemed to be immature and silly. Becky Freemont is the only girlfriend that I’ve ever had. I’ve known her since kindergarten. We are still very close and she is always there for me.

I took my studies seriously and so did Martin. We worked hard, and after we graduated we came back to Stettler, Alberta where I’d grown up. From the time I was about fourteen years old, I had spent all my spare time at Jason Winter’s Vet Clinic, helping him where I could. He was very patient and I was a good worker and a quick learner. When I left for vet school, he told me there would be a job waiting for me, and when we graduated he hired Martin and me.

Although Martin and I were engaged, we hadn’t “lived together” so when I came back to Stettler I moved back in with mom and dad. My life seemed perfect—marriage was in my future, I was living back at the small ranch where I had grown up, and I was home with mom and Dad.

Then over a nine month period, my whole world fell apart. My dad was almost killed when a horse went over backward on him. The thought of losing him struck me numb. When we knew he would live, tough choices had to be made. The ranch had to be sold, and mom and dad bought a place in town. I moved in with them and tried to help mom look after dad. I was worried sick, and far too busy. Martin broke our engagement, because he said I had no time for him and I wasn’t fun anymore. He took up with the secretary in the clinic. That was the last straw for me!

I was reeling, and I gradually slipped into a depression. I didn’t realize what was happening, because I was so immersed in what had happened to dad, and the sale of my treasured home. I thought I had good reason to feel blue…it would pass.

Then Doctor Winter’s stepped in and told me I had to take care of myself. He put me on an extended leave of absence, and told me to go to see my doctor and seek help. He told me to get out of Stettler for as long as it took for me to get back on my feet. He actually found me the job as a ranch hand at Belanger Creek Ranch.

It was a long and painful journey…and it seemed like I made some pretty stupid mistakes while I was there, but in the end, I found an inner strength I didn’t know I possessed.

When I came back to Stettler, I found comfort in knowing that my parents supported me, but I stood on my own two feet and made my own decisions. I had doubts and fears, like everyone, but I was no longer an extension of my father, or anyone else…I had become my own person.

Gloria:What is your idea of perfect happiness?

For me perfect happiness comes with peace of mind, accepting yourself for who you are, and being grateful for the wonderful things you already have. Strong feelings of self worth, contentment and acceptance create perfect happiness.

In today’s world, people tend to judge others and themselves by how they look, and what they possess. Doing this just causes discontentment. I have nothing against trying to improve your lot in life, but feeling “less than,” because of what you have not acquired, or may never acquire, is self-defeating.

Gloria:What is your favourite occupation?

Frank:Working with animals—being a veterinarian is my true occupation, but being a ranch-hand has been very satisfying too.

Gloria:What are qualities you value most in a man?

Frank:Honesty, loyalty,  a good work ethic, the ability to have access to his inner child and know how to have fun. I also admire a man who is confident, but not entirely focused on himself. He should show kindness and respect to others and me (if he is my partner) He should also be a good listener when I need him to be.