How did you get interested in the Western genre?
I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Canada (north of Edmonton, Alberta) on a cattle farm. We had only two TV channels (in the days before cable TV and even before, gasp, VCRs). The old Clint Eastwood movies came on TV and instantly I was hooked on Westerns. And For a Few Dollars More and The Outlaw Josey Wales are still in my top ten movie list.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing in November 2007 when I changed careers. After seven years working as an animator in the TV and video game industry, I wanted work that had fewer hours and would allow me to spend more time with my family. During the job change I lost my creative outlet and needed another.
Way back in 1992, I dabbled in writing. I bought and read a dozen writing books. I jotted down several ideas for stories in notebooks. Then I got sidetracked by my job (first computer programming and then later animation). I put everything in a box and forgot about writing.
After moving in 2007, I was looking through my boxes and found the writing books and notebooks full of scribbles. I decided it was time to try writing again.
When was your debut release?
In August 2013, I released my novella Adella's Enemy which can be read on its own or as part of the Passion's Prize anthology written with fellow Western historical romance authors (and 2010 Golden Heart® finalists) E.E. Burke and Jennifer Jakes. This was the fourth book I wrote, but the first that I published.
Can you tell us about the story that won the 2010 RWA® Golden Heart® for historical romance?
One of the "scribbles" in my notebooks was about a white woman who is raised by Indians. She runs away when white traders murder her adoptive mother and sister. The Indian brave, she once called brother, holds her responsible and seek vengeance. To escape and build a new life, she hires on as an interpreter and scout for a wagon train bound for Oregon.
Two years after starting this story, I had a manuscript titled Between Heaven & Hell. I entered it in several contests including the 2010 Golden Heart. And the rest is history. First book written, first time entering in the Golden Heart...which just goes to show that with a little bit of luck anything can happen. Between Heaven & Hell was published in June 2014.
Can you tell us about the two stories that earned you a double final in the 2013 Golden Heart contest?
Between Love & Lies (set in Dodge City during the heyday of the cattle drives) was nominated for the historical category, and The Shadow Hour (set in Victorian London) was nominated for the romantic suspense category. Between Love & Lies was published in 2015. The Shadow Hour is still a work-in-progress.
How did you come up with the idea for your Dodge City story Between Love & Lies ?
After I completed my first novel, Between Heaven & Hell, I searched for another Western story to write. I had no more "scribbles" for Western stories, so I opened my series of Time Life Old West books and started reading.
I found an interesting historical fact stating how the small farms between Texas and Dodge City were often decimated by the cattle drives when a longhorn tick caused the local cattle to develop a fever and die. I asked myself what would happen to a woman if she lost her farm during this time period (the 1870s)? Who would help her? Where could she find work? I decided my heroine would end up working in a saloon in Dodge City and that the cowboy (whose herd destroyed her farm) would be consumed by guilt and come back a year later to see what happened to her.
What are some of your favorite stories?
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. Makes me cry every time I read it and in doing so reminds me of the power of engaging a reader's emotions.
The Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel. Made me want to be a paleontologist and explore the world.
The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Made me fall in love with storytelling and heroes of all sorts (like swallows, statues and giants).
What's the easiest part of a book for you to write?
The opening scenes.
Are you a plotter or a pantser (fly-by-seat-of-your-pants) writer?
I'm a plotter -- big time. I outline all the scenes in my book (like building a story board for a film) before I start to write. That doesn't mean that the story can't take a detour as I write, though.
If your books were turned into a movies, what actors and actresses would you choose to play your heroes and heroines?
I don't know, but I know who I'd choose as director - Clint Eastwood :)
I was born and raised in Canada. My playground was a cattle ranch in northern Alberta. So a love of Western books and movies came easily.
Since then, I've lived in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, and as far away as Germany and England. I've contemplated careers in paleontology, computer programming and animation — two of which I pursued to employment. My life in the country became a distant (but much loved) memory.
One thing didn't change. A love of books was a constant in my life. And when I decided to write my own stories about the Old West...well, it was like coming home.
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Fall in love with a new Old West... where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You'll find cardsharps, scouts, spies & Wild West trick riders in my stories. My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching classic Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm. I've been nominated for over 20 awards and won the RWA® Golden Heart® & the Laramie® — but my best reward is hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories.
...where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous
Fall in Love with a NEW Old West
BETWEEN LOVE & LIES (Gambling Hearts, book 1)
If you were intrigued by the TV series Deadwood and its vivid and gritty characters, have a look at book #1 in my Gambling Hearts series, Between Love and Lies. I was equally mesmerized and shocked by Deadwood and came out craving a more female perspective concerning the wild life in an Old West town. Then I read about Dodge City, the Queen of Cattle Towns (or what I like to call the Sin City of the 1870s) and Sadie Sullivan was born.
BETWEEN HEAVEN & HELL (Lonesome Hearts, book 1)
If you were captivated by Stands With a Fist from Dances with Wolves and thought she held her own with all those men, check out my first foray into writing Between Heaven and Hell the novel that won the 2010 Golden Heart for Historical Romance and the 2014 Laramie for Western Romance Drama.
ADELLA'S ENEMY (a novella in the PASSION'S PRIZE anthology)
If you love Hell on Wheels but happy ending as well, then try the Passion's Prize anthology. It features three interlinked (but also standalone) Western historical romance novellas revolving around the true story of a cutthroat construction race between two powerful railroads. My contribution to the anthology is Adella's Enemy where a former Rebel spy pursuing an old enemy must choose to live for revenge or die for love.