If you could live in the Old West, whereabouts would you choose and what would your occupation be?
Wow. That’s a hard one. Although I love the beauty and wildlife of the mountains, it would be hard trying to eek out an existence there with the short growing seasons, killer winters, isolation, and no malls or internet. And as much as I love mountains, I’d rather LOOK at them, than LIVE in them. Same with oceans. The flatlands are good because you can see a cloud coming for days and get ready for it, but all that flatness might get a little boring after a while. Plus, tornadoes give me a bad case of the heebie jeebies. The South is out because even though the people are a hoot, I don’t like cockroaches and humidity and being sweaty for no good reason. And I’ve already been through my share of hurricanes, thank you very much. So I guess I’d like to be where I am right now—on a hilltop looking at mountains and valleys, watching cockroach-free wildlife wander by, no humidity, lots of sunshine, and tapping away on my computer. I already had a bear on my deck a few months ago—that’s as close to nature as I need to be. It’s a great life.
The code. Honor, integrity, pride, independence, self-sufficiency, pitching in when needed, and of course, guys in tight jeans. There was no moral ambiguity back then. Just right and wrong. I feel of late we’ve lost sight of those basics. Baggy jeans hanging off a city-slicker’s tattooed butt just doesn’t do it for me. But a fine-looking man on a fine-looking horse, well… Plus, there were fewer politicians back then to mess up everything, which is always appealing.
What interesting places have you visited while doing research for your stories?
I’ve pretty much covered the West, so I don’t have to go anywhere to envision it. All I have to do is remember it. But I’ve traveled a lot on the cyber highway and have come across many interesting facts—some of which might even be true. Plus I’m a great people-watcher and brain-picker. If you’re a doctor, nurse, psychologist, historian, horse trainer, rancher, botanist, bird watcher, hiker, camper, outdoor survivalist, wildlife biologist, or anyone with a kind face—I’ll be on you like a hen on a June bug. Everyone I meet has something to offer.
Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
I think of a place I’d like to write about—then the time period—then the kind of people who might live there then. It’s the old “what if” scenario. What if there was this beautiful ranch in a mountain valley in New Mexico, and this guy and his brothers lived there…three really hot, lonely brothers…hmmm. Then I start posing questions: What haunts him? What does he fear? What does he want more than anything in the world and how can I keep him from getting it until he’s earned his “happily-ever-after”? It sort of snowballs from there.
Please tell us about your current projects. (Brief overview including any tidbits about your inspiration or interesting behind-the-scenes notes you care to share)
I just finished the third Runaway Brides book, BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY, which comes out next June, so I’m taking a short break. Instead of writing, I’ll be promoting the newly released mass market editions of the Blood Rose Trilogy (PIECES OF SKY, OPEN COUNTRY, and CHASING THE SUN), as well as the trade release of COLORADO DAWN, which comes out on January 3rd. These brides books have been a lot of fun—four women who head West to start new lives and get more than they bargained for when they’re stranded in a dying Colorado mining town. Fun stuff. Meanwhile, I’ll be busy with a huge giveaway on my blog (www.kakiwarner.wordpress.com). Throughout the month of December, I’m giving away twenty three-book mass market sets of the Blood Rose Trilogy, plus fifteen early copies of Colorado Dawn. Be sure to drop by.
As for current projects…there are always ideas bouncing around in my head…a Christmas Novella, a tie-in to the grooms of the bride series, a re-visit to the Wilkins ranch…lots of things I’d like to do. So we’ll see.
What was the inspiration behind Colorado Dawn?
Maddie (the heroine) had already appeared in HEARTBREAK CREEK, the first brides book, so I pretty much knew what she was about. But since she’s an English photographer and somewhat unconventional, I decided to pair her with a duty-bound, titled Scottish soldier who is so involved running around doing military things he doesn’t realize his wife has given up on him until he returned to find her gone. Then the chase is on. Ah…a Scotsman in the West. Two of my favorite things. My grandfather was Scottish and I still hear his brogue in my memory. He always seemed a boisterous, bigger-than-life character, so I suppose in many ways Angus Wallace came about because of him.
What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
That I’ve been married for forty-five years (and to the same man, no less—give me a freaking medal), and I sold the first book I wrote the same year I went on Medicare. How’s that for being a late bloomer baby bloomer? Plus, put me up in front of a crowd and watch the hives pop out. I’m pathetic. But I’ve learned to cover my pathological shyness with inappropriate remarks and out-of-control giggling, so at least onlookers aren’t bored.
Since you told me to ask–Why don’t you write sex scenes in your stories?
(You weren’t supposed to tell). But since you did…actually I do write sex scenes, just not graphic ones. I figure most of my readers already have an idea of what goes where, so I don’t need to spell it out in detail. There are manuals that do that a lot better than I could. Admittedly, sex is a vital and necessary part of the human condition, but I think overly graphic sex scenes desensitize readers and often trivialize what should be a moving, romantic, physical and spiritual joining. (I know. I’m a hopeless romantic). So I focus on the romance of it, not the mechanics. I don’t want readers flipping through my books to get to the spicy parts, nor do I want them skimming over the sex scenes to get back to the story. It’s a choice every writer has to make. Sure, I’ve gotten dinged for my “fade to black” sex scenes (I use a lot of cuss words, so that should help some, right?). But I’ve gotten many, many more e-mails and comments from readers who appreciate not having to suffer through yet another blow-by-blow (oops, did I say that?) account of two people getting it on. Rent a movie.
Am I wrong, readers? Is graphic better? Or fade to black? What do you prefer in your romances and why?
What were your favorite books as a child?
Favorite book? Where do I start. Every Christmas my parents gave me the current Newberry Prize winner and it was always a treasured gift. But the book I carried around
with me as a little kid was Petunia the Silly Goose. From there I went through Uncle Remus, The Secret Garden, any horse book, the Nancy Drew mysteries, Thomas Costain’s books. I even read
bad poetry. In fact, one Christmas I delighted my entire family and guests (I was seven) with a surprise reading of “The Old Bastard Is Dead”which was snatched out of my hands before I could finish (I didn’t know what a bastard was back then. Maybe that was my first step toward romances…you think?)
Thanks for coming by today and letting me spout off. And in the spirit of the season, I’m giving away a three-book set of the mass market editions of the Blood Rose Trilogy and an advance copy of COLORADO DAWN to two lucky commenters. Ho Ho Ho!