We have a terrific guest today! Susan Spence is here to talk about her new historical fiction novel, A Story of the West, and she’s giving away a FREE copy to one lucky person at the end of her tour! Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form after her interview. I want to thank her for being my guest and good luck to everyone!
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Susan Spence has always been intrigued with life in the west in the 1880s. She researched historical accounts and first-person narratives as she prepared to write A Story of the West. A lifelong resident of the west, she currently lives in Montana on an old sheep shearing station with lots of furry critters and one partially furry critter. This is her first novel, and she is busily working on a sequel due out in late spring.
You can visit her website at www.writing-ranch.com.
ABOUT A STORY OF THE WEST
“But I know you,” the menacing outlaw sneered back, clearly ready to use the Colt revolver hanging from his hip.
Only a few years earlier Matt and his father had trailed a herd of longhorns north from Texas into Montana Territory. Upon arriving, they decided to stay and raise cattle on the fertile grasslands.
Shortly after the Northern Pacific rail line was completed and it became easier for people to head west. Lavina Lavold stepped off the train in Miles City with her family and immediately caught Matt’s eye. When they fall in love, Matt’s life seems perfect.
There are unscrupulous men, however, determined to build cattle empires. A ruthless neighbor decides he wants the Daly’s claim, and he will stop at nothing to acquire their ranch. Since the entire area is undeeded land, it is up for grabs and there is no law on the rough frontier to prevent a range war. When Matt refuses to back down, his life takes a dangerous turn.
Forced to abandon his family, his travels take him down a long road of misery. An encounter with an Indian medicine man helps him to regain his sense of self, but not until after he gives in to his desperation.
A Story of the West depicts life during the open range ranching days of the Wild West. Besides plenty of action, I have added a women’s perspective to settling the American West. I researched the era to ensure historical accuracy and have written an accurate portrayal of life during this time, as well as an exciting read.
Thank you so much for this interview, Susan! Can we begin by having you tell us where you’re from?
Susan: I am originally from Colorado, but I now live on a ranch in Montana.
Are you single? Married? Pet lover? Pet hater?
Susan: My partner/best friend and I never went through a ceremony, but after fifteen years, what’s the difference.
Pet lover is an understatement. We have a kind of animal refuge here that includes fifteen horses, some of which would have gone to slaughter if we hadn’t take them in. We also have cats we’ve rescued, as well as many other animal species, including chickens, goats and geese, living here. You might say we’re up to our eyeballs in our love of animals.
How did you come up with your title, A Story of the West?
Susan: I am really lousy at coming up with names, including animal. Boyfriends named my first two dogs. The title of my book was a real sticking point. I first thought ofA Story of the West as a working title, but as much as I fiddled with different possibilities, I never came up withanything I liked better. In the end I decided it described the book, so it stuck.
They say you can judge a book by its cover. Who designed yours and does it give a good visual of what the story is about?
Susan: I visualized the cover I wanted and then set up the shot and took the picture. The design is also my own. I think it gives a really good visual of what the story is about.
Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
Susan: I am continually running into people around town who tell me how much they enjoyed reading my book. People have called me to say they stayed up late reading A Story of the West. And if you listened, especially, to people who say they don’t normally read books, but couldn’t put it down, it might make you want to check it out.
Are there any messages in A Story of the West that you want the reader to know about?
Susan:Boy, that’s a hard one. I was more into telling a story than being philosophical. One thing I have discussed with others is the amount of woman’s work during that time. There’s a saying, “Men work from dawn to dusk, but a woman’s work is never done.” Women literally worked themselves to death. For example, if she were going to cook chicken for dinner, a wife would first have to go out and catch the chicken, before butchering, cleaning and finally cooking it. And just think of the process of washing clothes, beginning with hauling water up to the house in buckets.
What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
Susan: My favorite part to write was probably the epilogue. I like completion, with loose ends tied up. A funny thing, on about the fifth or so rewrite of the ending, I actually cried.
Now some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
Susan: Deep dark secrets are better left that way. What I will tell you is that, for a while, a few years ago, my husband and I slept with a goat. He was a bum that we brought up to the house and, being a baby, he needed warmth at night. The easiest thing was to put him up on the bed, where he’d curl up next to us. It only lasted a couple of weeks before a water bottle worked, but he did live in the house until it warmed up that spring.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Susan: Machu Picchu is a spot I’ve always wanted to experience. I love the feeling of spiritual places and that’s one I’ve never been to.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Susan: My energy fluctuates during the day, but is more dependent on the seasons. In the winter I’m usually tucked into bed fairly early, while in summertime, since there’s so much daylight in Montana, I have a hard time getting enough sleep. Happily, I have a lifestyle where I can take a nap in the afternoon if I need it.
Are you a realist or are you a dreamer?
Susan: I think I have some of both in me. I believe that both our dreams and our imaginations are extremely important and need to be paid attention to, as that’s where our creativity comes from. On the other hand, whether it’s a novel or a house, the actual building takes a lot of hard work.
What’s one thing that makes you stand up and scream?
Susan: Ok, I’ll get on my soapbox for a minute. It drives me crazy when parents don’t take responsibility for their children. From babysitters and daycare, to the public school system and extra-curricular activities, parents are allowing others to raise their kids. Having to work is not an excuse as there are a lot of parents who have figured out a way to do both.Theirs are the happiest and most motivated young people I’ve been around. I am not saying to deprive them, but if you don’t want to raise your children, why have them?
Thank you once again for this interview, Susan! Do you have any final words?
Susan: I am really enjoying my new career as an author. Besides honing my skills as a writer, I am also interacting with people who inspire my creativity. The writing community has, for the most part, been very helpful. Writers, both by speaking to them in person and from interaction on forums, plus reading blogs, have all encouraged me. I am grateful for these resources.
~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~
This contest runs from April 11 to May 22 2012 and is only open to residents of U.S. and Canada. The winner selected will be announced on this blog. It is up to the winner to notify Dorothy at thewriterslife (at) gmail.com to claim your prize. Pump Up Your Book is not responsible for damaged or missing goods. Good luck!