Please welcome my guest, Romance Author Andrea Downing. Andrea has spent most of her life in the UK where she received an M.A. from the University of Keele in Staffordshire. She married and raised a beautiful daughter and stayed on in England to teach and write, living in the Derbyshire Peak District, the English Lake District and the Chiltern Hills before finally moving into London. During this time, family vacations were often on guest ranches in the American West, where she and her daughter have clocked up some 17 ranches to date. In addition, she has traveled widely throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, living briefly in Nigeria. In 2008 she returned to the city of her birth, NYC, but frequently exchanges the canyons of city streets for the wide open spaces of the West. Her love of horses, ranches, rodeo and just about anything else western is reflected in her writing. Loveland, a western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, is her first book. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.
Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.
Wow, Katherine you go straight for the jugular here! First let me say, thanks so much for having me here today. I'm delighted to be with you. I'm sitting at my desk in my NYC apt. which is where I love to get most of my writing done, and wondering whatever happened to my flying pig? In 2008 I moved from London to the USA, no doubt losing said pig in transit. I wanted to be near my daughter who had decided to stay on after coming to the US for university. Now she lives in Colombia, and I write books that take place out west. Go figure…
It's strange how things work out, isn't it? Do you have a writing routine? Where do you usually do your writing?
I wish I did have a writing routine but sadly I don't, not because I'm disorganized but because my life is so haphazard at the moment. I live between my apt. and a house I own so I have two different writing spaces. In the apt. I have a study which doubles as the guest room, and at the house I'm spread all over the dining table. That's a pain since it all has to be cleared when I have guests to dinner but it's either that or redecorating the house. Actually, I should think about doing that!
I write at the dining room table too. I have to clean up every night for dinner. I agree it can be a pain. Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do? Any plans in the future to write in a different one?
I have to admit I never actually set out to write Romance, it just happened. I like happy endings and these are the stories I dream up. My settings are always western—so far—but I have written both historical and contemporary. I'm considering a Civil War story so that will be quite a change for me when I get to it!
How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?
My muse is extremely naughty and didn't cooperate for a good many years. I wrote my first novel at about age 27 and the next one not until I was in my 40s! Now I seem to be on a roll. Getting old seems to have helped; you realize you don't have anything to lose so just go on and dish it out. For me, it's always been fear that caused writer's block. I could procrastinate endlessly; I always had an excuse for not writing. Eat chocolate and get past that.
Good advice. Eating chocolate always makes things look better. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Not sure really. I could say that it was eating in fast food joints that practically killed me with their salt and fat contents, but I don't think that was what you mean. I guess going to the Pawnee National Grassland was sort of strange, at least strange to my NY friends. They all asked, 'you have to actually SEE the grass to write about it?' Well…duh…yeah.
Of course, we writers understand perfectly that you needed to actually see the grass to write about it. :o) What do you like to do in your leisure time?
Reading, riding and travel. I can't sit still, have to always have a book with me. And any vacation time I'm out of here somewhere, usually West and definitely to ride.
Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.
Set against the background of the British cattle companies in 1880s Colorado, Loveland is about the love Lady Alexandra Calthorpe has for top ranch hand, Jesse Makepeace, fighting against her desire to be independent of men.
Can you tell us a little about your next project?
I've just signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for my story, Lawless Love, another western historical romance. The hero is named for an actual cowboy I met last summer on a working cattle ranch in Nevada, but that's about as far as the similarities go. Well, except that they are both good men!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Certainly not my chocolate…
Can't say I blame you. :o)
When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...
Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.
Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?
As the round-up wound down, the Reps took their stock back to their outfits, and soon the men were back at headquarters or at the camps. Alex knew word had more or less got out and found the punchers were gentler now around her, had a sort of quiet respect for her, and she hated it. She tried to bully them a bit to show them she was still the same girl, jolly them into joshing with her as they had before. It was slow work. At the same time, she yearned to see Jesse, to speak with him, to try to get life back to the way it was before the argument at the corral, and before he saw the scars. The opportunity didn’t present itself. She would see him from a distance some days, riding with the herd, sitting his horse with that peculiar grace he had, throwing his lariat out with an ease that reminded her of people on a dock waving their hankies in farewell. Hoping to just be near him, she slid into one of the corrals one evening to practice her roping.
The light was failing and the birds were settling with their evening calls. Somewhere in the pasture a horse nickered. She sensed Jesse was there, watching, but she never turned as he stood at the fence. She heard him climb over and ease up behind her. He took the coiled rope from her in his left hand and slid his right hand over hers on the swing end, almost forcing her backward into his arms. She thought of paintings and statues she had seen, imagining his naked arms now, how the muscles would form them into long oblique curves, how he probably had soft downy fair hair on his forearms, how his muscle would slightly bulge as he bent his arm. His voice was soft in her ear, and she could feel his breath on her neck like a whispered secret.
“Gentle-like, right to left, right to left to widen the noose, keep your eye on the post—are you watchin’ where we’re goin’?” He made the throw and pulled in the rope to tighten the noose.
Alex stood there, his hand still entwined with hers and, for a moment, she wished they could stand like that forever. Then she took her hand away and faced him. For a second he rested his chin on the top of her head, then straightened again and went to get the noose off the post while coiling in the rope. She looked up at him in the fading light and saw nothing but kindness in his face, simplicity and gentleness that was most inviting. A smile spread across her face as he handed her the coiled rope and sauntered away, turning once to look back at her before he opened the gate. Emptiness filled her like a poisoned vapor seeking every corner of her being, and she stood with the rope in her hand listening to the ring of his spurs as his footsteps retreated.
The Wild Rose Press: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=991&zenid=cd3e384d35ae9a84573a67b183afd60d--
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/loveland-andrea-downing/1112486451?ean=2940014874021
You can find out more about Andrea and her wonderful books on her website - http://andreadowning.com, her facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/writerAndreaDowning, and on Twitter at @andidowning
Thanks again for having me here today, Katherine. It's been great fun!