I’m delighted to welcome fellow Wild Rose Press author Andrea Downing here today for an interview and a look at her debut western historical romance, Loveland.
Hi Andrea, so glad to have you here today. Tell us a little about Loveland. What inspired this story?
Thanks so much for having me here today, Babette. Loveland is my first novel although I’ve been writing for many years. The idea for the story came to me after I returned to live in the U.S. after a virtual lifetime in Britain. I was surprised to learn how many of the old cattle companies out west were owned by British aristocrats and, being a romantic, the story just evolved from there.
Blurb: 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?
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
I was just contracted for a story with The Wild Rose Press for their ‘Lawmen and Outlaw’ series. It’s called Lawless Love and I’m in the middle of edits at the moment. No publication date as yet but let’s hope it’s this year!
What are your writing goals for this year?
Aside from finishing Lawless, I have another book doing the rounds at the moment and I’ve been trying to start my third novel. It’s a slight move away from romance and while I’ve got bits and pieces, scenes, written as well as an opening, it’s being very reluctant to get on the page! Or maybe I’m just procrastinating? So you can say my goal for this year is to get ‘near as damn it’ to finishing my third book.
Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
This is a huge admission for me: I will ALWAYS love Jesse! While he can have something of a temper, you know for sure he would never hurt Alex and he understands her completely, will care for her and look after her always. He’s definitely her Rock. You know there’s that saying about ‘give someone enough rope and they’ll hang themselves?’ Well, Jesse gives Alex the rope but he stands by and makes sure she never gets to the point of hanging herself with it!
What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
Oh, I love the scene when they first kiss at the July Fourth party. I don’t want to spoil anything but he warns her if he kisses her, he may not be able to stop and, sure enough, the kiss goes on…and on. Everyone watching at the party has a comment about it. I had to rewrite the scene to keep in Jesse and Alex’s POV which was difficult because of those comments, but I think it still works and brings a bit of humor into the story as well.
How do you balance writing and everyday life?
With difficulty! I’ve had a rough few years with various medical conditions getting in the way, including eyesight problems, and then my daughter took off for a couple of years to live in Colombia which changed my routine. So there are lots of drags on my time, but probably no more than anyone else who might be looking after a family. I think it’s good to have a balance; for one thing, all the sitting required for writing is plain unhealthy! I just read today that if you sit regularly for more than 3 hours a day you lose two years of your life. I think I’m on borrowed time by now! Even going to the gym, which I do, doesn’t undo the damage—it’s the length of time in one sitting. So…I’m doing my best to reach a balance.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
The American West. Anyone who knows me or has read my writing by now knows how much I love the west. I’m probably more partial to the Rocky Mt. states, particularly Wyoming and Montana, but Colorado is pdg as well J I also like New Mexico and Utah, and was recently on a great working cattle ranch over in Nevada. Oh dear. You get the picture I guess.
What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
My favourite food to cook is roast chicken. Nothing is more beautiful than a golden bird right out of the oven. But as far as favourite foods to eat, well, come on now. Ice cream and chocolate. Dark chocolate! Of course.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
My father was a voracious reader. He used to come home from the library with a pile of books, mostly Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series. I remember my first trip to our local library with its beautiful wooden shelving and I thought, I’m going to read everything here. Oh, yeah, right…but I did make a good start!
Do you have any good news you’d like to share?
To paraphrase Dr. Frankenstein, I’m alive!
These are few of my favorite things:
1. Going down to the corral for an early morning ride at some ranch in the Rockies, that slight chill in the air even in summer, the scent of pine mixed with horse and leather, a small piece of chocolate in my pocket for later in the day…
2. My daughter’s sleepy smile as she mounts up for a breakfast ride, knowing blueberry pancakes and a small piece of chocolate lay ahead.
3. Finding that the small piece of chocolate isn’t melted into a gooey disgusting mess…and eating it. Slowly.
Thanks very much for having me here today, Babette. I’m heading off to…eat chocolate now. Thanks again!
The two men looked over at Jesse who was leading his own horse into the stable, anger etched in every muscle of his face. Joe nodded toward the chuck house and they followed the others in to leave Alex alone when Jesse came out.
She was starting back to the main house when Jesse grabbed her arm and turned her around. “You ever do that again,” he said in a voice she had never heard, intense in its anger, rage just below its surface, “I swear to God, Alex, I’ll…I’ll take you over my knee and give you a lickin’ once and for all.”
“How dare you!” She shook him off. “How dare you talk to me like that! How dare you! Who the hell do you think you are?”
Jesse jabbed his finger at her to emphasize he meant what he was saying. “Who do I think I am?”he snarled back. “Who do I think I am? You ever, ever take a gun off me again and point it at someone, you’ll find out who the hell I think I am. You know that coulda gone off? You know you coulda killed someone? I told you—out there yonder—I told you, you never point that thing at anyone less’n you mean bus’ness.”
“I did bloody well mean business! They were destroying that horse. Furthermore, I knew, and you knew, and they both knew, there wasn’t a shot under the hammer. You taught me that, didn’t you? So there was no chance of an accident!”
“That don’t matter none. You coulda pulled the hammer back twice. Way you was, you were nothin’ better’n a loose cannon, Alex. You ever do a thing like that again—”
“You’ll what?” She shook with her rage as tears pooled against her will. “I apologized to them both and they accepted my apologies. It’s none of your concern—”
“None of my concern! You pulled my gun! You ever do that again— Don’t you walk away when I’m talkin’ to you!”
She turned back to him after a few steps. “You’ll what? You’ll what, Jesse? What will you do? I want to hear it! Say it again. What will you do?” And she stood there in the evening darkness, facing him down, wearing him out like she’d faced down the stallion.
Bio: Andrea Downing 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. 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, another western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, was her first book. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.
You can find Andrea at:
Website and blog: http://andreadowning.com
You can find Loveland at: