Monday, October 5, 2015

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, Romance author Andrea Downing. Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 25 ranches throughout the west. 
Loveland, Andrea’s first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014.  It won ‘Favorite Hero’ along with Honorable Mentions for Favorite Heroine, Short Story and Novel in the Maple Leaf Awards. It has also won The Golden Quill Award for Best Novella. Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, came out in February, 2015.
      Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.

Katherine, thanks so much for having me here today.  Who doesn’t like talking about themselves?!
I love the west; I think I’ve always loved the west and so I gravitate towards it naturally for the background to my books, despite the fact I live most of the year in NYC.  Quite a contradiction, huh?  Or, maybe not when one thinks of writing paranormal or historical or futuristic stories.  We don’t ‘live’ there either!

Something not writing related, or at least not too writing-related, is that my daughter works for an arm of the UN.  She lived in Bogota, Colombia, for three years but is now back in NYC.  It amuses me no end that while she is working to save the world, if you will, I’m writing romance.  Somehow the two don’t seem to gel…but we are very close, nonetheless.

Do you have a writing routine?  Where do you usually do your writing?         

No writing routine whatsoever; I live between two places so it’s very difficult to get into a real routine like someone who, for instance, has a 9-5 job.  In one place, in the city, I have a study/guestroom.  It has a huge desk, where I can spread out all my junk, and a view across to Central Park (through a lot of trees).  At my house, I work on the dining table and that has a huge amount of my junk as well.  Since there is generally only me here, it’s fine; I leave myself the head of the table to have my meals, but when I have guests, I have to do a huge clear up.

I write at the dining room table too. Although, I have to clean up my writing things every day for dinner. I'd love to be able to leave it at one end. Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?  Any plans in the future to write in a different one?      

As I said earlier, I’ve always loved the west.  I watched every tv western I could growing up, and I’m very into all things western:  rodeo, horseback riding, western dancing and so on.  My daughter and I have visited over 25 ranches now—all types from resort ranches to working cattle ranches.  But I think writers write the stories that come to us, and that is that. I’ve now written both historical and contemporary books with western settings.  I do have an idea for a Civil War book, but we’ll see.  I tend to be a bit lazy when it comes to in-depth research, which that one would require.

How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate? 

With difficulty!  At the moment I am just getting back into writing after a sabbatical due to health issues earlier in the year.  It’s sort of frightening to return, and I don’t know what will happen.  I am about to attend the Women Writing the West conference and there is to be a panel on dealing with writer’s block which I am, in fact, moderating….so stay tuned!

I've been struggling myself and it is frustrating. I hope you get a lot of tips from moderating the panel. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

Gone into regression therapy.  I don’t wish to discuss that too much, but it is for the book I’m planning to start.

That sounds fascinating. What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

Don’t give up; what have you got to lose.  I’m very shy, basically, and would find it difficult to ring agents or publishers as one did in the old days.  Emails make it simpler; you don’t feel the rejection quite so hard.  Now that I’m way older, I really do feel I have nothing to lose by putting myself out there.

That's very good advice. And think of what one might gain by continuing to try. What do you like to do in your leisure time?  

Travel mostly; I just got back from a seven week road trip from NY to WY and back via a different route (through Canada).  I read a lot, as do most authors.  And I love horseback riding—of course!

Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.  

The tag line for Dances of the Heart is, “When you’ve let loss rule your life, can you learn to live again?”  That about sums it up; it’s about a mother and daughter, and a father and son, all of whom have lost something or someone in their lives and have to learn to let go of the past.  It has some military themes as well as a TX/NY setting.

Your blurb hooked me right away. (See below) Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I think I can only sum it up by saying it is about a woman who goes in search of herself!  It will mix contemporary and historical…so there’s a sort of hint.

Anything else you’d like to share? 

A bottle of wine? 
      Thanks again for having me here, Katherine.  It’s been fun.

Blurb: Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancĂ©.
Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.
On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.  

Excerpt: “You still frettin’ over your body?” His words met her closing the bathroom door.
For a moment, she stayed silent while she washed and got ready for sleep. Then she stepped out. “I shall always fret over my body. You’ll be disgusted by it soon. You’ll see. Who wants to make love to a withered old hag?”

Ray inhaled, obviously frustrated with having to deal with this again. “You know,” he drawled out, “there’s two of us aging here. You don’t hear me worrying ’bout my old broken down body appearing in front of you with all its flabby bits. I’m not in love with your body, Carrie. I’m in love with you, you dang fool.” He reached out a hand and drew her over. “Find something else to worry about, will you?”
He was right; she knew she didn’t give a damn what the hell he looked like. To her, he was the best looking damn man on earth. Worry about something else? “I have,” she finally answered him. “I should have phoned Paige again today. She sounded too crisp and business-like to me on the phone yesterday.” It was going to be a long night. Her mind was turning over too much.
Ray stole a glance at the bedside clock. “She’ll be fine,” he assured her. “First thing tomorrow, you can call, but I’m sure she’ll be fine.” He lay back on the pillow. “Anyway, I didn’t know Paige had anything but ‘crisp and business-like’ when speaking. Seems that’s the way a lawyer should be...even with her mother,” he added quickly. He patted the bed beside him.
Carrie curled herself in again as Ray switched off the low bedside light.
“You think again about how long you can stay? Not that I want you to go—I want to make that clear.”
“Oh.” She gave a quiet giggle. “I guess maybe as long as Mabel lets me.” Lying against him, the quake of his laughter quivered against her skin. “Seriously, I don’t know. It sort of depends on
“You miss New York? Your friends?”
“Yes. But then, if I were there, I’d be missing you, so which is worse?” She craned her neck to meet his gaze. A sudden feeling of contentment washed over her, and she curled up again, resting her head against him.
For a while, she listened to the broken record song of the cicadas and frogs until that was joined by the soft whistle of Ray’s even breathing. But such satisfaction did not send her to sleep; it was a night when her mind would not rest and the restlessness won.
Carrie slipped one leg down and then the other to stand and quietly make her way out the door, drawing it shut behind her. The hallway was pitch black, a night in which clouds blanketed the moon, and, like a criminal, she stole her way to the sunroom. Feeling for the switch, she inundated the room in the white light of the ceiling fan bulb and flipped the computer open, jabbing in her password and sitting, waiting for the home page to appear.
And then the dogs started barking.
Slipping back from the table, she rose to see if she could spot a deer that might have set them off as Jake had mentioned. The void of blackness was menacing, a complete emptiness of life as if she were the last person left on the planet. The glare of the light bulb and her own reflection forced her to lean right up to the cold glass, but nothing greeted her, a vacancy was all there was.
She decided it was nothing more making them bark than a passing animal she couldn’t see, and she started to sit down when she became aware of something. Dogs were still barking, but it sounded like there were only two of them barking now, which puzzled her. They were barking more frantically, too, with a sort of whining cry emitted, a terrible yowling of desperation.
And then came the screech of the kennel door.
Hurriedly rising from her chair again, her heart pounding as if it wanted to escape her chest, Carrie rushed to the glass of the sunroom windows, desperately searching the emptiness for a sign of movement. The room’s reflections in the glass sketched specters outside, unnerving doppelgangers in an alternate world. Her hand instinctively went to her chest as she searched the void franticly.
And then, two staring, disembodied eyes came floating through this ghostly setting and, catching the light from the room for a second, a knife held out, red stains of blood just dulling its sheen.

You can contact Andrea here: 
Website and Blog: 
Twitter:  @andidowning
About Me: 



  1. Katherine, thanks so much for having me here today. It's been a pleasure chatting with you.

    1. You're welcome. Thank you for being my guest.

  2. Hi Andi. Loved the excerpt. And your current project sounds intriguing. I'm looking forward to that one of yours, too. Happy writing!

    1. Thanks Barb. Let's hope I can settle back into the new book after my sabbatical!

  3. Hi,
    Loved your excerpt. The WIP sounds interesting. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Tena. Hope you might enjoy the book as well.

  4. Great interview, Andrea. Dances of the Heart sounds wonderful!

    1. Thanks K.K.--and thanks for stopping by.

  5. Wow.
    That's the only word that comes to mind on reading this post.
    Thank you, Andrea for this wonderful story.
    Thanks, Kay for inviting Andrea to visit!
    Veronica and Kat

    1. Well, that's a nice reaction. Thank you, ladies ;-)

  6. great interview and excerpt. Wishing you good health and best wishes with fighting writer's block.

    1. Well, Angelina, we'll see what the panel suggests on writer's block--but I'm sure several days in Wyoming will help as well!

  7. Boy, you have a lot of awards under your belt, and I can see why after reading your excerpt. Scary ending! That's great about your daughter's work and that you visit ranches. I like doing road trips too.

    Dances of the Heart looks so good. I'll tweet the the news now!

    1. Thank you, Nicci--what very kind words. Much appreciated. And thanks for the tweet, too!

  8. Excellent advice! Thanks for sharing your struggles and congrats on overcoming them. Best of luck :)

    1. Thanks Joanne--I guess we all have struggles but it's nice to share!

  9. Great excerpt. Great post. It helps to hear that others don't have a rigid writing routine, but still we produce. Good luck with your release.

    1. You are not alone! Yes, there's comfort in numbers.

  10. Sounds like another winner, Andrea! Best of luck!

    1. Thanks Ilona. I appreciate your comment

  11. Thanks again for having me here, Katherine. I've enjoyed chatting with everyone

  12. I live in the west, and I can tell you, it is amazing! I was born and raised and lived until 50 in the Midwest but always loved the west. I, too, want to write a historical at some point but the research is daunting!