Friday, January 23, 2009
Please welcome today's featured author, Elaine Levine!
Congratulations on your debut novel Rachel and the Hired Gun, Elaine! Tell us a little about how the novel came about.
Hi, Tiffany! It’s an exciting time. The novel came about....slowly. I started working on it in '92 or '93 and quickly realized how little I knew about the the West. The only solution, of course, was to move west and immerse myself in the culture, much to my poor husband's consternation! We packed up the kids, then in grade school, and moved from the Washington, D.C. area to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Man, did I love it right away. When we got to Cheyenne, the population sign read “50,000”. Not a week later, I kid you not, it read “50,004”. We still laugh about that. Unfortunately, a couple years after we moved, I had to put writing behind me and get serious about contributing to my family's finances. In retrospect, I think I quit writing just when I was getting good at it.
I studied software application development and soon was on my way in a new career. Over the years, I picked my writing up and put it down. I was never able to balance family, work and writing. In 2006, my son got married and settled down and my daughter joined the Coast Guard. My husband and I were suddenly alone, responsible only for ourselves. In the quiet of our empty home, the dream to be a published author made itself heard again.
I picked up the old story that had driven us west, polished it once again, and entered it into the 2007 RWA Golden Heart competition. It was a total shot in the dark. To my surprise, it not only finaled, but it won its category in the competition--Best Long Historical.
I pitched it to Kate Duffy at that conference. In November, she called me up and asked for some changes. She also did the most amazing thing. She suggested a plot change she wanted me to make, then she edited two chapters and asked that I carry those types of changes through the rest of the story. I did it and she bought it February of 2008.
I love your publishing story and laughed out loud about the population sign (my husband and children have learned to ignore my outburst)! :0) Rachel and the Hired Gun is the first book in your "Men of Defiance" series. Can you tell us more about where the series is headed?
This series is about several Civil War veterans who settle in the same rough frontier town in a part of the Dakota Territory that later becomes Wyoming.
The two stories after Rachel and the Hired Gun happen during the same summer. The sheriff, whom we met very briefly in the first book, becomes increasingly troublesome. He’s stirring up a range war to deflect notice from his attempts to intercept payrolls and supplies being sent up to the logging camps in the Medicine Bow Mountains.
In the second book, tentatively titled, Audrey and the Virginian, Sager’s friend, Julian McCaid comes out to Defiance to deal with the range war that is heating up at his ranch--and to find the woman whose pale green eyes have haunted him since they met a year earlier.
Devious as the sheriff is, he doesn’t scruple at using Audrey Sheridan for his own purposes. He forces her to keep Julian occupied for a period of time when that first gold shipment comes through town. When Julian realizes Audrey isn’t the innocent he believed her to be, he knows nothing but her complete surrender will purge her from his soul.
In the third book, tentatively titled, Leah and the Avenger, Sager and Julian’s friend, Jace Gage, has been hired to clear the sheriff and his gang out of Defiance. Unfortunately for Jace, his attention snags on a violence hating tomboy named Leah Morgan...
Oooh, I can't wait! How do you prepare to write? On a daily basis and/or over time?
I don’t seem to do the same thing twice when it comes to writing. I’m finding that while I’m not a plotter, I’m not exactly a panzter either. (For those of you unfamiliar with those terms: a plotter is typically someone who plans out their stories ahead of time; a panzter is someone who is more likely to "fly by the seat of their pants" when writing) I like to know where my story’s going, and I want to be sure that I don’t have any lulls in the pacing. I do a lot of research up front to understand the world I’m creating. Then, for a long time (months), I just listen to my characters. I put them in different situations as I learn who they are and what issues they are facing. These are mental exercises not written ones. Some of those situations stick and become scenes in my story, some (most) get discarded. When I feel I know the characters inside and out, then I sit and write. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m working on Leah and the Avenger now. Hopefully it will be the fastest story to write yet!
I hope so, too. I can't wait to read them! :0) Where do you find inspiration?
Bruce Springsteen. The man is a god. I love his lyrics. He can capture the truth of someone’s story in a single stanza. That’s not easy to do. I’ve listened to the same 6 CDs in my car for over a year. My husband won’t even get in the car until I turn off the stereo!
I have such respect for songwriters. Like you said, they can do what takes us pages and pages in just a few minutes! What are you reading right now?
Sophia Nash’s The Kiss. And I’m loving it!
I'll have to add that one to my TBR pile. Create a picture of your writing environment for us...A desk? Always the same place?
I have my own little office in my basement, with stacks of books and things all around the room. I have a big blackboard that I use for story boarding. I prefer to write in the same place. It’s a bit of a mental trigger to me that when I’m in that room, I better be focused.
What is something that you are never without?
I’m generally never without underwear. I think.
Hehehe...Did you make any New Year's resolutions? If so, care to share?
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about my resolutions. I always resolve to do whatever it is that most important to me at the time. And I NEVER do it. So this year, I’m trying out a bit of reverse psychology...I’m not going to make a resolution. I know what I want to achieve, but I’m keeping it a secret--and I’m not calling it a resolution! Maybe that way it will happen!
Hmm, I like that thinking - I've all ready blown my resolutions (which happens every year). Anything else you'd like to add???
Just that it’s an honor to be a guest on your blog! Thank you for having me here today!
Thank you for being here. It's been a thrill, and I absolutely loved Rachel and the Hired Gun! I didn't read westerns...until now. You, Rachel, and Sager have made a western romance lover out of me!
Elaine is doing something very creative for her contest. I love this idea! Check it out:
RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN is Available Now!
To celebrate her new book, Elaine is giving away a T-shirt with her book cover on it to a reader who leaves a comment. If the drawing winner sends Elaine a digital picture of herself wearing the tee that Elaine can post on her MySpace, she’ll receive an autographed copy of RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN!
And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to the Colorado Romance Writers free newsletter for news of Elaine’s activities and those of all the published authors at Colorado Romance Writers! Here’s the link: http://www.elainelevine.com/elaine.html
Check out Elaine’s website (http://www.elainelevine.com/) for excerpts, clips and book goodies!