JD. Hi Mary! Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
MC. I’d say no. I read like always. I may read a bit more critically but if I’m editing a book while I’m reading it that’s a bad, bad sign. I like to get lost in a book and mostly I can.
JD. Tell us about the featured book Gingham Mountain.
MC. A rancher runs head-on into the new schoolmarm, who believes he’s made slave labor out of eight orphaned children.
Grant Cooper crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father. Grant's family of orphans has been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is being cranky just like all the others, except she isn't really bad to his children…it's Grant she can't stand. And none of that would be so bad if Grant didn’t catch himself kissing Hannah every chance he got.
JD. Gingham Mountain is a fun read! I loved it! What attracted you to western historical romances and how does the taming of the American West dovetail with themes of inspirational writing?
MC. I’d been writing for a long time before I got published and had a lot of finished books on my computer in many different genres when Petticoat Ranch, the first book in this “Lassoed in Texas” series, found a home.
The “Lassoed in Texas” series, including Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain are all suspenseful, historical western romantic comedies…which is such a specific genre I’m afraid I’m the only one writing it…at least it’s a small crowd. I have so much fun writing like this. There’s just something about a cowboy, fighting the elements, quick with a fist and slow with words. And a cowgirl, tough in her own right, not all that willing to back down. I enjoy writing romantic comedy westerns a lot.
JD. You’ve created a genre, Mary. You capture the “he’s from Mars, she’s from Venus,” male versus female conflict in a very humorous way in your stories. What do you see as the differences between the male view of the world versus the female viewpoint?
MC. My husband likes to say, “Woman talk things through and men think things true.” Of course all ‘tru-isms’ have limits. There are chatty men and quiet woman, but as a rule of thumb, when I’ve got an idea rattling around in my head, I like saying it out loud. It helps me marshal my thoughts. And my husband is more one to just out of nowhere say, “Here’s what the problem is and here’s the solution.” So, I try and capture that in my characters, talk-y women, quiet men, of course I’ve taken it to extremes in the books for the comic value.
JD. In your stories, the children play a central part in the plot and often get into the kind of trouble that will be very familiar to any mother. With four daughters, do you have any personal experiences either as a mother or a child that you’d like to share that helped inspire some of these scenes?
MC. Do you know any little boys with big and little sisters? If you watch them in action, you’ll soon see that the boys thrive on tormenting their sisters. “Yay! I made her scream! Yay! I made her cry! Yay! I embarrassed her to death in front of her friends!” My husband never learned that. Instead, when the girls cry, he can’t stand it. He’ll do almost anything to get them to stop. Bribery, yelling, sometimes he’ll run. We’re pretty used to it and there’s a lot of comedy in watching him react to the girls.
The next book I’ve written after Gingham Mountain has no children in it and I’ve had trouble with that. Children bring a kind of chaos to a scene that I enjoy working with. But I wanted to tell this story, and I think it ended up being very good. But it doesn’t have those mouthy children to liven things up so I had to find other ways.
JD. What are you working on right now?
MC. Gingham Mountain is the last of the “Lassoed in Texas” series and next up is a new series we’re calling “Married in Montana.” It’s got the same suspenseful, romantic comedy with cowboys as this series and it was really fun to write.
Montana Rose—Book #1 in the series. Left pregnant and widowed in the unforgiving west, Cassie is forced into an unwanted marriage to rancher Red Dawson. Montana Rose was actually inspired by Janette Oke’s beautiful classic novel Love Comes Softly. Of course, I’m not Janette Oke (unfortunately for me) and my novel has taken an alarming turn to romantic comedy, suspense and chaos. One of the reasons I mention that it’s inspired by Janette’s lovely book is because NO ONE would ever get it if I didn’t just say so right out loud. Kind of like Petticoat Ranch was inspired by the second Dirty Harry movie (or maybe it was the third?) and Clive Cussler. So when people ask me, where do you get your ideas, I always seriously consider just making something up because the truth is too weird.
Here’s a bit about Montana Rose.
No decent man could turn away from Cassie and leave her to the rough men in Divide, Montana. Red Dawson can’t turn his back on spoiled, snooty, beautiful Cassie. Now he’s got himself a wife he’s sure God never intended. And when he informs her there’ll be no more silk dresses and she has to do some work around the ranch he’s surprised to see her trying to help with everything. Too bad she’s a walking disaster. His ranch may not survive her efforts to pitch in.
Now, instead of a spoiled wife he’s got himself an overly obedient and badly incompetent one, Red’s so charmed by her he can’t bear to scold. He’s not much for bossing people around, anyway. Red also realizes the Cassie is so obedient he can’t really know what she wants. Which means she might allow his affections even though she doesn’t welcome then.
While Red tries to survive Cassie’s help and Cassie tries to use her own mind instead of meekly obeying for the first time in her life, an obsessed man plots to make Cassie his own, something he can’t do as long as Red lives.
JD. That overly submissive wife has to have a fascinating story of her own. Can’t wait to read it, Mary! How can readers find you on the Internet?
MC. I am too much all over, Janet.
Seekerville: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ (where I hang around with Janet every day)
Petticoats and Pistols: http://petticoatsandpistols.com/