How did you come up with the relationship between artist Ella and rancher Cord?
The first picture that came to me was a woman with three kids standing on the deck of her house, looking at her like they are supposed to help her out and she is reluctant to. Then a truck comes on the yard and here comes the father. This was how the book starts and this was the first idea that came to me. So then I had to figure out why the woman didn’t really want to help the kids. Why the father was so upset at her reaction. And because I knew I needed them to be forced together, I had to delve into that. I knew my heroine was an artist trying to find solitude so I came up with the idea that the kids, once they found out she was an artist, finagle her into helping them with an art project. The hero is trying to protect his children and knows that she is uncomfortable around them but also that they really want this to happen.
What is your favorite part about writing Courting the Cowboy?
The interacation with the kids and Ella. I have two precocious granddaughters and a chubby loveable grandson and they became my models for Suzie and Ollie. Paul was a composite of my other grandson and a nephew’s son. It was fun bringing them to life.
How is it different to write about children than adults?
Kids say what they think and aren’t scared to ask the hard questions. They aren’t scared to satisfy their curiosity so that makes for some interesting and fun conversations. Plus they don’t overthink so what you see is what you get. Adults spend more time debating and questioning and filtering what they say so it’s a different dynamic.
How did you pick a cabin in Alberta as the backdrop for the book?
I loved the idea of seclusion and the mountains and a ranch. It created a sense of coziness that appealed to me. I wanted my heroine to be apart from her usual support system so that she was a bit vulnerable when the kids came barging into her life.
What was the first book that made you cry?
he Outsiders. I remember sitting under one of those dome, homestyle hairdryers, my hair in curlers as the hot air blew over my head, reading the book and my tears drying on my hot cheeks as I read how Johnny died. Such delicious sadness.
How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I often say I’m always researching stories and books. I gather information and hoard it, store it away for when I can use it. So it’s difficult to say. I love ranching life and the lifestyle and my husband has his horses and cows so, like I said, I’m always trying to find ways to write what I know into my story. As for the other stuff, like the art references in this book, I have a niece who’s an artist and I’ve listened to her talk about shows and galleries so I drew from that as well. Then, whatever I don’t know I fill in as needed either by phoning or going on Google.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I actually have a master list of names of hero’s and heroine’s that I’ve used in the past and for future books so I don’t make the mistake I did previously of having two hero’s named Logan. I usually pick names that sound strong, masculine for my men and a bit softer for my women. And that’s about it. For secondary characters I rely on a little tool in Scrivener that gives ideas for names. I’ve used it often.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Take pictures and edit them. Make covers for books and learn how to properly use the gradient tool in Affinity. Sometimes I think I would like to work in a store with other real people instead of the fake people I spend so much time with. (though they become very real to me). But the truth is I really can’t imagine not being a writer. I’m always coming up with stories.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Not really. I think it’s often resistance to do the hard work that keeps me from writing. For instance I’m supposed to be reworking a book right now that I’m struggling with so it’s much easier to fill this out than to work on it. But I will go back to it and keep plugging. I know, for me, when I shut the internet off, the distractions cease and I have no choice but to work. I can’t really say that I’ve had actual writer’s block. Resistance to do the hard work, yes, but not writer’s block.
Are you excited for Valentine’s Day?
I know I’m supposed to say yes, but Valentines Day is often just another day here. If I’m in town I’ll buy some Lindor Chocolate for my husband and I and we’ll have them with tea as we have our devotions after supper. My dear husband is not a romantic so it’s often a non-event. I don’t doubt my husband’s love for me and I’ve learned, long ago, that birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day should never be a test of that love.