Another Petticoats and Pistols gal joins us today to chat about Soul Food, why she took the plunge and where she'd like visit. Please welcome Tanya!
Tell us a little about yourself Tanya!
I’m a California beach girl happily married to my personal hero (firefighter and cancer survivor). We’ve got two grown kids, who are the best thing I’ve ever done, and two little grandsons who totally obsess us. I love travel, country music, Hallmark movies, and McDonald’s iced coffee. I don’t like to cook, am terrified of down escalators, am a proud Defender of Wildlife, and I volunteer at our local horse rescue.
Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since the first time I read LITTLE WOMEN when I was eight years old.
I love that book! When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author?
I procrastinated for far too long. Finally with the kids off to college, my hubby said, you better start finding out how to get published. Amazingly, one of my teaching colleagues was a pubbed romance author who directed me to Romance Writers of America and our local chapter. At the first meeting, I met best-selling author Charlene Sands, now one of my best friends and greatest inspirations. She really helped me get my start with critique and tons of handholding. And still does!
What inspired the idea behind Soul Food?
SOUL FOOD is the fifth in eight contracted novellas in the inspirational Hearts Crossing Ranch series at Pelican Book Group. All are set on a ranch in modern-day Colorado. The heroine, Kelley Martin, is based a little on my niece Kelley...they are both vegetarians. Yet neither Kelley is “judgmental against carnivores”, as book-Kelley always says. The setting, a city slicker wagon train, is based on a real-life wagon train trip I took with my hubby recently around the Tetons. It is still almost surreal, looking back.
Do you have a favorite character in SOUL FOOD?
It’s got to be Kelley. She appears in most of the eight books in the Hearts Crossing Ranch series, and I just love her. It was great fun giving her a story all her own. Five of the eight stories are released, with three more in the editing stages. I was so sad to say good-bye to the Martin Family when I finished the eighth book.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
Sounds corny, but when God closes a door, He opens a window. In real life, this has happened to me more times than I can count.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
It’s amazing how real-life helps form most of my fiction. Of course the wagon-train setting is real, and my trip not long ago to The Wild Rose Press’s retreat on a ranch in Bandera Texas helped me with so many ranch details. Even small things, like blood donating--I’m a regular having donated 57 pints, turn up in my stories. And the simple little “butterfly kiss” came from a children’s talk during a church service.
Which character in Soul Food will be the most difficult to part with?
I think Elaine Martin, matriarch of the clan. She always knows what to say, when to give a huge embrace. Her faith never waivers, but she’s never preachy or judgmental, accepts and loves everybody. Without any spoilers, I did give “Ma” a HEA of her own in Book 8. I’ve had readers tell me my books aren’t preachy or judgmental, either, that people enjoy them regardless of their belief system.
What kind of research was involved for SOUL FOOD?
I pretty much lived my own city clicker wagon train experience. And I was able to consult with my blood donation center about the material I needed for the scenes about Kelley’s ex. Since hero Jason is a geneticist, I emailed a bovine genetics site for some information, and one of my filly friends at our group blog Petticoats and Pistols, Mary Conneally, gave me the idea for the curly calf deformity. Her husband is a rancher.
What kind of research was involved for the series? Did you find it became easier with each book?
It got harder with eight stories, fairly close-together deadlines, and edits in between. I’m not a very organized person. I knew the characters well, their goals and motivations, but didn’t want to get tripped up with little details, like horse’s names, eye color and when events happened. Throughout the eight books, there are a lot of weddings going on that seem to be the “umbrella” for some plot line or other. I had a lot to keep straight. I’ve got a great editor with an eagle eye, but it did get challenging, working on the next story while editing the previous one.
As a multi-genre author, how do you juggle going back and forth between the different genres? Do you have a preferred genre?
To be honest, both sensual Western historicals and contemporary inspirationals are fun to write, just different. The main difference is, no love scenes or sex or “sensual” wordage in inspirational. In some ways, it’s been kinda nice not having had to write love scenes for a while. Both venues need accurate details and ensembles of wonderful characters, and I love dealing with all of that.
What type of heroine do you like best?
I’m a real weenie, so I like them to be strong and unafraid to jump in.
Is there any place and time in the world and in history that you would like to visit?
I always think I’d like to actually visit the Old West, or medieval England. But it would have to be just one day. I don’t think I could bear the smells. Or mud.
Is there a genre you wish you could write, but haven’t made the plunge? Which one and what appeals to you about it?
The VERY same day SOUL FOOD was released, the editors at Pelican Book Group asked to acquire my MS on the Salem Witch trials for their new young adult line launching in 2013. It’s got a great message as well as being spooky and time-travel-y. “THE CIRCLE GIRLS: ONCE UPON A WITCH” will release under my new pen name, Anya Novikov. The YA genre appeals to me because I taught high school for many years and know the age group pretty well. Teaching about the Salem Witch Trials was always a favorite unit for the kids. They understood perfectly that finger pointing and casting blame without personal responsibility didn’t just happen in 1692. It’s all around us.
Does where you live or have places you’ve been influenced your work?
Oh yes. My college days in Nebraska and student-teaching in Colorado really influenced my decision to write Westerns.
Is there a book you’ve ever read more than five times? Which book and what drew you back to it?
LITTLE WOMEN is my standard bearer. You can’t beat that classic. And when I need an emotional kick-start, I re-read her JACK AND JILL, the chapter when their pal Ed Devlin dies suddenly. Just thinking about that chapter takes my breath away. It’s so subtle, so beautiful. Nothing overwrought. Another heart-tugger is Scott O’Dell’s ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS. It’s just a must-read, not just for historical value (Karana is based on a real woman) but the emotions the reader experiences. I’m misting up just thinking about it.
Have you ever literally deleted or thrown away a book you’ve written?
Sadly, no LOL. I’ve got a medieval WIP stuck deep in the shadows that I keep thinking has just GOT to be a big-gun some day.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
Book Six, ANGEL CHILD, will be out in late 2012. It features a single mom falling in love with one of the sons of Hearts Crossing Ranch but scared to reveal her disabled child. The little boy is based on my real-life godson who was born with a rare condition called Angelman Syndrome. Then I’m returning to sensual historical romance for The Wild Rose Press. CHRISTMAS FOR RANSOM, out in time for the holidays, is about a good-hearted, good-looking outlaw who, unbeknownst, falls for a woman whose horses he just stole. She’s the schoolmarm he’s hired to teach him to read. And I’m working on another outlaw story for TWRP. This time, the outlaw’s a girl!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter using the Rafflecopter entry or comment for a chance to win an eBook copy of Soul Food! Winner will be chosen on June 27th!
Get the Book: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Food-ebook/dp/B0080HKCZI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338484072&sr=1-1
My full lengths are in print. The Hearts Crossing Ranch series so far is e-book only. The YA will be both and include study materials.