Huntsville, Alabama lies at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a city of historical contrasts, at once Antebellum South as well as a modern concourse of technical prowess, a research and development center for the U.S. Army and NASA.
And here is where the McNallys call home.
They are successful professionals with civilian careers on Redstone Arsenal, but their success belies a foundering marriage. Jared, an engineer, is emotionally distant. His wife, Melissa, an intellectual property lawyer, pursues an affair to fill the void left by her husband.
Tipping the scales of their flimsy bond is a journal of a young man, Jacob Thompson. In the 1830s his father owned the plantation Fiery Hill, the original boundary of which includes fifty acres now marking the McNally’s home. Within the diary, Jacob professes a love for a slave girl named Nika, an African brought forcibly to America, not only with chains, but with a secret and dangerous legacy. That legacy is resurrected, and for unknown reasons targets the McNallys.
As a result, Jacob and Nika’s past intersect with Jared and Melissa’s present as all paths lead through an enigmatic African legend borne in the tribal myths of the Mande.
Dale “Steve” Gierhart is a retired business manager for the United States Army. Based in Huntsville, Alabama on Redstone Arsenal, his career lasted from 1975 to 2010 in which he managed contracts, finances/accounting, and cost estimating for several missile defense systems, among which were Stinger, Avenger, Chaparral, Sentinel, JLENS, SLAMRAAM, and Non-Line of Sight.
He hails from Shawnee, Oklahoma; but most of his adult life has been spent in the beautiful hills of North Alabama where he lives with his wife, Bonny, who raises Tennessee Walking Horses.
Between them, Steve and Bonny have 5 children and 7 grandchildren and another on the way.
Steve enjoys writing now that he is retired and plans more excursions of the imagination.
He and Bonny, a retired engineer who worked as a contractor on several NASA and Army programs, will travel in their retirement though 15 horses, 4 dogs and 3 cats can crimp the best of plans.