My guest today is Andrea Downing, who emigrated to the UK from New York in order to do her Masters Degree. She ended up marrying, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine 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 open spaces of the west—and writes incessantly.
Ahhh...a woman after my own heart. I write incessantly, too. Or so it seems. Andrea has agreed to my asking her a few questions.
1. What is your life like away from the computer? Tell us something about your household. Jazzie, my cat, wants to know if you have any kitty-pusses. Well, let me have a word with Jazzie first, please. Jazzie, I love kitties and, in fact, I even call my daughter Kitty. But sadly, my last cat, Pussy Willow, passed away some time ago and it just wasn’t feasible to replace her—well, no one could, you understand that. I travel far too much anyway for a kitty to be happy with me. My life away from the computer is very hectic. Although there is only me, my daughter is now in Colombia and my heart is in the west so there’s lots of ‘going places’ involved. I think I’m married to my computer, too, so no kitty would put up with that.
2. What authors and genres do you like to read? I read just about anything that takes my fancy but my favourite genres are western romances and literary fiction. I also read a lot of western history and books on related topics, biographies and so on.
3. Do you enter writing contests? If so, has this been a positive experience for you? I have entered contests, quite a few, but I’ve stopped now. I can see that the winners have something to gain—they get their work in front of an editor or publisher and get the opportunity to say they won. And, of course, I realize you can’t win unless you enter. But my own experience has been very mixed. The pages I sent in from Loveland for one competition, before it was accepted at The Wild Rose Press, placed fourth. You can imagine how frustrating that was when the top three were the winners. Anyway, two of the three judges raved about the book and gave me very high scores; the third was so bitingly sarcastic and nasty about it, I was absolutely amazed that she had been allowed to be a judge. Judging is very subjective; possibly she just didn’t like western historical romances and didn’t understand where I was coming from, with it. Who knows? Now, when I enter, I take the criticism and use the judges’ comments when I can see the sense in them—which is all too frequently—and I ignore the rest.
4. Do you ever dream of writing in a different genre? I’d like to be able to write some sort of non-romance, literary fiction novel but unfortunately, those are not the stories that I imagine. Well, I tell a lie—I did think of one such novel, at least I thought of the premise for it, but not the story beginning to end. Maybe one day it will all fall into place.
5. How do you research your storylines or locations? I always visit the areas I’m writing about, so that meant Loveland and environs for Loveland and going down to Texas Hill Country for my next book. I don’t think you can really describe a place, and have a feel for it, unless you’ve been there. I don’t spend long, but I do drive about quite a bit, talk to people there, hear their voices, their sense of place. No one I’ve met on those travels has actually ended up in the book so far but I guess it could happen.
6. What are you currently working on? The Wild Rose Press had a call for novellas or stories about lawmen and outlaws and the women who love them so I’m working on something that might be suitable for that. Back to historical western romance… When I stayed on a working cattle ranch this past summer, one of the cowboys who came from a long line of cowboys asked to be put in one of my books. So he has the starring role, only now he’s a U.S. Marshal!.
7. Tell us about your current release…or soon to be release. Well, I think the blurb will say it all, Vonnie. Thanks so much for having me!
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?
EXCERPT FROM LOVELAND ~
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
“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
****My web site and blog are at http://andreadowning.com,
my twitter is @andidowning and
my FB author page is http://www.facebook.com/writerAndreaDowning
plus my Goodreads author page is at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6446229.Andrea_Downing
and my Amazon author page is http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0