This is my first Author interview and I want to thank Mary for agreeing to do this interview.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I had my first two books released this year.
Petticoat Ranch and Golden Days.
I am the mother of four grown daughters and a farmer’s wife with this odd habit of writing stories.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer, have you always had the desire or did it come later?
The strange pastime of sitting behind a computer makin’ stuff up … well, who knows where that comes from. And who knows why I started it, really. What was I thinking??? I wrote my first story, a romance novel I can barely remember, when I was about twelve. I have no idea what happened to it. When I was a young wife I wrote a lot of odd short ‘slice of life’ stories that I still have and should always keep just to remind me that I have improved. My girls’ baby books are just covered with writing, I preferred writing to pictures. It’s just so natural to me to express myself with the written word.
Also if you were not a writer what would you like to be?
Well, I loved being a stay-at-home mom. Of course the kids are gone and my husband’s pretty self-sufficient so I suppose I’d be at home dusting (yeesh). I’m a GED Instructor for my day job When I was a kid I remember (we live way, WAY out in the country) the first time I ever saw overpasses on highways in the big city (Omaha) I loved those roads. I remember thinking there was so much that went into them, the structure being strong enough, the slope of the road on curves, the on and off ramps going left to get right sometimes but not other times. I remember thinking, “If I build roads like this, it would last. If the civilization collapses, someday my roads would be the only thing left.” It made me think of Ancient Rome and the Appian Way and the Coliseum. I would have liked that.
What was your motivation for Writing Petticoat Ranch?
I think of Petticoat Ranch as my husband’s story. My husband is from a family of seven sons, no daughters. Now we have four daughters. Watching my husband react to the girls is just funny. He absolutely adores them but he sometimes treats them like they’re … oh … fireworks that might explode in his face at any times. Pretty scary little creatures. So in Petticoat Ranch I just turned that way, way up for Clay. Clay is mystified by the chattering and the giggling, and the crying scares him to death. Along with the fear is this fascination with how they hug him and how quickly they tell him they love him, and Sophie is warm and sweet, when she’s not nagging him half to death, and the warm meals and clean cloths, it’s all such a powerful draw, in opposition to being terrified of them all. The humor of that is the foundation of the book.
How do you come up with the Characters for your books, are they modeled on people you know?
In very generalized terms you could say Clay is my husband and the daughters are my four daughters. But I took some basics then just ran with them and exaggerated them and twisted them to suit myself.
Mandy is sensible and practical Beth is an animal lover and a nurturer
Sally is a tomboy and Daddy’s girl
And the baby…well, she’s a baby so she can’t be my fourth daughter really.
That is somewhat a description of my four girls, but of course my girls are three dimensional and so are my characters so beyond the one dimension where they’re alike, they’re really nothing alike…does that make sense?
And Sophie is NOT me. I think Sophie is how I wish I was. She just says whatever she pleases and expects everybody to line up and behave themselves, especially Clay. Well, I’m not like that a home. I’m the peacemaker. I’m the one trying to get everyone past their traumas and let them vent and boost their spirits. I don’t say out loud one tenth of the stuff that comes into my head. Instead, I write books about sassy women.
I know Petticoat Ranch is book one in the series, how many more will there be and how long do we have to wait?
Book #2 in what is now officially the Lassoed in Texas series is Calico Canyon. Prissy Miss Calhoun, the school marm from Petticoat Ranch and Daniel Reeves with his five unruly boys star in Calico Canyon. She expels his boys from school. He gets her fired. A completely innocent compromising situation sees them married the next day. Five little boys are horrified. Daniel is a trapped rat. Grace is stuck in her worst nightmare. And then things get really bad. Coming August 2008 from Barbour Publishing
Book #3, Gingham Mountain is coming in February 2009. It is Hannah’s story, who has a nice role in Calico Canyon. Hannah is a protector of children and she doesn’t like the way Grant Cooper has crowded so many orphans into his rickety ranch house. It reminds her too much of her own childhood with her brutal adoptive father who forced all his children to work in a carpet mill. Grant has had too many unkind people treat his rag tag family badly and now here comes another one. He wants to hate her, but he can’t quite get past how pretty she is and how much she cares about his children, even if her caring amounts to her scolding him.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’ve got five books coming out in 2008. But they’re not all historicals. Barbour has been so, so good to me. I wrote for ten years before I got a book published and they have shown so much interest in my backlog of work.
Calico Canyon in August
Alaska Brides in September (this is Golden Days reissued in an anthology with two other books by Cathy Marie Hake and Kathleen Y’Barbo)
Of Mice…and Murder a cozy mystery from Barbours new line Heartsong Mysteries. The line is just this month launching and it’s a book club. You can try out four free books here: http://www.heartsongmysteries.com/
Buffalo Gal from Heartsong Presents coming in October
Pride and Pestilence the second in my three book cozy series which will be out in December.
It’s going to be a fun, hectic, exciting year.
You can read more about Mary at her website http://www.maryconnealy.com
My review of Petticoat Ranch is at click here