Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Welcome Andrea Downing!

I'm delighted to catch fellow TWRP Rose, Andrea Downing, today and have her visit. She's been such a busy lady since her debut novel, Loveland, lauched recently from The Wild Rose Press, so settle down in your chair and switch off any distractions.  There are some nice answers coming, after we learn a little about Andrea, and the brilliant excerpt afterwards isn't to be missed!

Andrea has spent most of her life in the UK where she developed a penchant for tea-drinking, a tolerance for rainy days, and a deep knowledge of the London Underground system (or ‘Tube’).  In 2008 she returned to live in 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—especially cowboys (not one in particular, sadly, but still looking…) is reflected in her writing.  Loveland, a western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, is her first book.  She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West. Her WIP is contemporary women’s fiction with a Texas Hill Country meets the New York Hamptons setting.
That sounds very intriguing! We'll catch up with your WIP soon.

After the wonderful buzz of the contract offer for Loveland died down a bit, were you prepared for how hard you have to work at marketing your novel? I know it has scared me to death at times!
     No!  Nothing prepares you for that, I don’t think.  You keep hearing you have to have a platform, you have to be on all the sites, you have to blog until you’re blue in the face, but you never really realise how very time consuming it all is, or how many emails it is going to entail. It keeps you away from the real writing and I find that tremendously depressing.  And then the disappointments…  I just heard today that a bookshop that originally offered me a signing in Loveland itself has retracted because they are renovating.  Loveland isn’t exactly a huge town so bookshops aren’t thick on the ground.  It’s truly upsetting.
I definitely sympathise with that, Andrea. We have very few stores, where I live, and only a few of them stock books.
Tell me about Loveland. 
     It’s a western historical romance set against the background of the ownership of large cattle companies by British aristocrats in the 1880s.  The heroine, Lady Alex, has been sent to the Faringdon Ranch after a scandal in London; she lived there a short period earlier on.  Now she is reunited with the ranch hands who love her…especially one! 
What's your hero's name?
     Jesse Makepeace!  Jesse is very gentle and kind because Lady Alex has been through quite a lot in her young life and wouldn’t want someone who knocked her about a bit.  But that doesn’t mean he’s a complete wimp.  He does throw her over his shoulder at one stage and carry her off!

Here's a little more info about Loveland
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?

Were there any triggers which led to the plotline?
      I’m so glad you asked this question, Nancy.  The trigger was my own return to the USA where I was born after living in Britain almost all my life.  When my daughter was growing up we used to have long vacations out west.  You know, the English school system has these month long vacs at Easter and Xmas and then just 2 months in the summer.  We used to spend the Easter vac in Arizona on a ranch in Tucson and the summer ones further north in Wyoming, Colorado or Montana.  So I began to think…and Loveland is where that thinking got me.
Did the names for characters just pop into your head as soon as you started to write?
     Almost!  Alex was easy because Alexandra is such an aristocratic name and Calthorpe, you may know, is a very old English name.  Jesse is such a western name, that part was easy, but the Makepeace came to me after a time.  He was meant to have an English background. The others—Cal , Garrett, Garrison, Joe—they really did just pop into my head.  Tom and Annie Yost took a little more effort—especially the Yost part.  I needed something that sounded like a settler in the west and suddenly came upon Yost in some reading I was doing so chose that; the Tom and Annie followed.  Oliver was always Oliver no matter what.

What's Jesse's biggest challenge?
      Loving Alex, accepting that she is what she is—a strong, independent woman who will never be under his control, for whom he will always, always have to make concessions.  And he has a temper and that is going to have to be controlled because of what she has been through.  He adores her, and he is willing to let her have her way, but it isn’t always easy!
Which was the hardest part to write-beginning, middle or end? My answer is probably all of the bits, but what's yours?
     Oh, the middle for sure.  I always know the opening, and I always know the ending—but the middle.  Ugh!  Getting from A to Z is VERY hard.  I was reading a piece by John Updike recently and he said he always knows the last sentence or paragraph and he always knows the beginning but until he gets the middle he can’t write.  I have what I think is a terrific idea for my third book and I know the beginning, the first sentence, and I know the last sentence but the middle—nada!  Sometimes I find it’s just smart to start writing and see what the characters do, which is what happened with the book I just finished.  I was surprised at what the characters did, where they took me.

What's your favorite time of year? 
     I’m a winter person actually.  When I was writing Loveland I really luxuriated in writing the winter of 1886/87, which was thought by some to be a second Ice Age, it was so horrid.  Temperatures dropped to minus 60 in some places in the USA (that’s Fahrenheit!) and about 60 to 75% of some of the herds died.  They said you could walk on the carcases of dead cattle for miles on end.
I like winter too, but not when it's slushy snow. Walking over dead cattle has never been an issue, but I can't say I fancy that!

Do you have favourite snack foods while writing?
     Ah ha!  You must know that sitting for long periods is very unhealthy, so I’ve begun to be very health conscious and don’t snack—unless for some reason there is chocolate in the house.  Chocolate is my nemesis!  But I try to drink mostly while working!  Water mainly, tea of course, possibly a treat of hot chocolate in cold weather or a ‘coke float’ in heat and, yes, a glass of wine when the sun is over the yard arm—or even Jack and Ginger.  I realise Jack is something of an anomaly to you Scots—one can’t have an American whiskey but we do have them and it mixes with ginger ale or Coke very well.  Then again, you’re probably thinking it’s only FIT to be mixed with such horrible sodas…
I have to confess that I let the Scottish side down when it comes to whisky. I hate the smell of it, and never drink the stuff, but my husband has been known to like a very peaty malt. 

Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
      I’m a Country and Western fan, big time, and it’s part of the western genre but I can’t say any of it inspired me and I can’t really work with lots of noise of any kind, including music.
If I'm writing I can't have music on, but when I'm editing I play something that's not demanding.

Which of your characters would you invite for a lovely, tempting, evening meal?
     Well, if I can’t steal Jesse away from Lady Alex then I’ll settle for Cal and have him to dinner…and more!  Cal is the best friend for anyone, anywhere; he is completely and utterly loyal, has terrific good sense and sees through the lies people tell themselves and gives good advice.  He is also extraordinarily kind and has a great sense of humour.  The character I would least like at my dinner table is Oliver Calthorpe who is completely ego-centric, selfish and, quite honestly, an utter fool.  He’s a liar and a cheat and although he does have redeeming features—and, indeed, redeems himself more or less at the end—he is not very likeable.

What's next on the writing cards for you?
     When I get Dances, my current WIP, off and running and can start the next, it’s about a woman who recalls a former life and goes in search of…well, I don’t think I should give too much away at this point in case the characters write something other than what I have in mind!
I think that's fair enough, Andrea. I don't like to talk about anything I've written till I'm sure it's my absolute last case it changes a lot during self-editing!  

But now here's an excerpt that won't be changing...

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.
Wow! I'm hoping those sparks don't set fire to the barn, Andrea!  Loveland can be bought at:  http://www.tDescription:
Andrea can be found at: 

 Thanks so much for having me, Nancy.  It’s been fun!

 It's been a pleasure having you here, too, Andrea. Best wishes with the sales of Loveland, and for your continued writing success.   



  1. Good morning, Andrea. It's dawned quite nicely with the promise of maybe some sunshine I'll leave it over to you, now. Catch you later.

  2. Thanks Nancy! We're 5 hours behind, don't forget so things just getting started here!

  3. What a fun read! I love the sparks flying between this pair. And I love people who love horses.

    Andrea, I enjoyed reading about your writing process, how the characters' names came to you, the places, and the story.

    Wishing you all the best with Loveland - great cover, by the way!

    Maggie, a fellow Rose

  4. Hi Andrea,

    It's always nice learning more about you. :)
    I wish you the best with Loveland- it sounds like a wonderful read.

    1. Thanks Maggie and Karen, your support is greatly appreciated. I think by the end of my blog tour you all will know me pretty well!!

  5. I like to think that we learn interesting things about each other, and then think...oh no..there are still some secrets left. Like for book 2 launch, or 3, or 4, or ...well we can dream, can't we? Got to disappear and plan a 'soon to come' birthday party (not mine). Have fun, ladies!

  6. Great excerpt. Whenever I read about someone who has lived outside the US, I find it interesting, because I've never left. How exciting to do so much traveling! Thanks for sharing, the book looks great.

  7. Hi Lisa. I guess I do feel privileged to have done so much traveling abroad but,you know, the US has an awful lot to offer and these days I'm certainly happy to travel here. And, as I've said before, there's no place like home!


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