Today I am thrilled to have British writer, Jill McDonald-Constable. First off she will tell us a little about her books.
Hello Sue. Thank you very much for inviting me to your blog.
Where to start? I always get stuck with knowing exactly what to say. I really don’t like ‘blowing my own trumpet’!
Here goes, first, just a little about me. I was born in Liverpool, UK, and have that strange and quirky sense of humor which is peculiar to Liverpudlians. I have never been abroad. I really love the UK, especially Scotland, where I am proud to say I have ancestral roots. As well as my writing, I enjoy creating Art and Crafts, and gardening. That must come from my Scots ancestors, who were all farmers. As a child, my family lived on farms and in pet shops, after I married, we ended up living and working on a farm in Kent, the ‘Garden of England’.
But my lifelong dream was always to have a book published. Then, one night, I had a dream! When I woke, I still had the ‘film’ and title running through my head. I began writing, and around three months later, ‘The Ghosts of Poynter’ was ready to send off to a publisher! It is a Western, and I only knew of one Western publisher in UK, Robert Hale, whose imprint is ‘Black Horse Westerns’. I was stunned that it was accepted within a few weeks. It needed some tidying up of course, but around six months later, I was opening my first box of author copies of my first hard backed book! Wow!
In order to have a shoot’em up cowboy book published, I needed a pen name, and it had to be a male name, I played about with that for some time, eventually coming up with a combination of my Great-great grandfather’s first name, and my husband’s Great-great grandfather’s surname, and Amos Carr was born!
‘THE GHOSTS OF POYNTER’
‘Chase Tyler is headed for the town of Poynter. An attempted ambush, the death of an innocent man, and a sheriff who won’t play by the rules, added to a brother-in law who can’t be trusted, and a young man out for vengeance, all make for a pretty complicated visit. When Chase also meets a woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to Chase’s lost love, there is very little hope of him laying old ghosts to rest.’
Amos Carr’s second book for Hale was ‘Crazy Man Cade’. There will be more.
‘CRAZY MAN CADE.’
‘Crazy Man Cade has done it all. Foiled a stagecoach robbery, stopped a vicious beating of an elderly man, and halted the kidnapping of a pretty young girl by a crooked sheriff and his gang. But his life is changed forever when an Arapahoe brave walks out of the trees and tells him that Cade’s oldest friend, Bear, the trapper, is dying.
A perilous journey and a bloody battle with a gang of thugs delay their progress but earn Cade the respect of the Indians, and they reach Bear in time to get him some help. Knowing that he would never be able to settle, will Cade deny his attraction to one of the Indian girls, and ride away from his old friend and the possibility of a new life?
* * *
My third Western has more Romance in than the other two, and around the time it was finished, I heard of a fairly new publisher who was looking for Western Romances! I guessed my book might fit their brief more than Hale’s, so sent it off to Prairie Rose Publications, in America!
It needed a bit of ‘tweaking’ to suit the American market, and had to have even more Romance added, I was happy to oblige, and had a great deal of help on that score from the lovely Cheryl. The only problem was, PRP, only accept work by female authors. So poor old Amos had to go! For them I became Gil McDonald. ‘Saint or Sinner’ was published by PRP on March 22nd this year, (the 1st anniversary of my husband’s death.)
‘Leroy Vance is a hard-hearted bounty hunter, hot on the heels of a gang of outlaws, when he gets his horse shot out from under him. Injured, and on foot, in the wide flat lands, Vance faces almost certain death. Help comes in the form of a buggy driven by two foreigners, father and son. They take him to the nearest town, and drive off without a word. When he eventually tries to buy a new horse, Vance is directed to the ranch owned by the foreigners. There he finds some excellent stock. But the ranch holds a secret.
The foreigners don’t train the horses themselves; that is done by the wife of the younger man, and her little brother, who are both abused and beaten by the men. Vance swears to rescue the woman and boy. But Fate has a few tricks up her sleeve, and a lot can change in a short time. Vance falls in love with the man’s wife as he helps them to escape. But with the husband hot on their heels, will the trio escape? And will Leroy Vance, bounty hunter, and sinner, finally find True Love with the wife of another man?’
Here is a short excerpt from the beginning of ‘Saint or Sinner’ just to whet your appetite.
In the still, dry air, the dust rose high and thick in a swirling gray plume, widening as it rose and dispersing slowly into the high, almost cloud free, pale blue sky. With no wind to move it on, or it drop it back to the ground, the particles carried on travelling upward until they became all but invisible.
Vance knew the gang was heading for the hills, and they were moving fast, but he also knew he had a good horse under him; it was strong and light boned but speedy, with a deep chest, powerfully sprung quarters, and plenty of staying power.
He’d been trailing this particular gang for some time, but was always just that little way behind them. Right now though, he was much closer than he had been so far. And there was no way—no way in hell—that he was going to let those bastards go; not now that he could almost taste their dust.
Vance was way too far back to be able draw a bead on them, or even to use his rifle. He couldn’t be certain of hitting any of them from this distance, not riding at almost full-tilt, anyway. He needed to be a hell of a lot closer to them for that; but he didn’t want to push his mount any harder just yet. He’d only have to hope the gang’s animals were also getting pretty tired right about now. The way the men were pushing them on, it was more than likely. They’d soon be slowing down, and he’d have a better chance to catch up to them.
Trouble was, there was no doubt whatever in his mind that, if he could see their dust trail, they could sure as hell see his too—if they bothered to look back. And, judging by the way they were still moving, they were looking back over their shoulders all the time and urging their animals on at top speed.
They could only keep on going at that speed for so long though, before one of the animals, no matter how sure-footed they might be, tumbled on the rough ground, and broke a leg …or maybe even its neck.
The same went for his own animal, though. They’d been pushing on hard for some time, and the big roan was starting to tire. He knew his horse well, and was well aware that there was still just a tad more run left in him. If he was going to catch them, he had to make the final push pretty soon now.
* * *
Now for some questions so we can find out more about this talented author:
‘What genre do you write in?/Why do you write the stories you do/What can readers expect when they read your books?’
Cowboys and Indians! Well, not so many Indians! (Yet.) The Hale books are regular, shoot ‘em up, kill ‘em dead, Westerns! Think Cowboy movies of the 50’s. I was an avid Cowboy fan. I also spent the majority of my life, until my early 20s, around horses.
I tried for many years to have a book published, totally ignoring the old ‘write what you know’ adage. It was only when I put my knowledge of horses, and the old Cowboy films together, that I sold my first book! They are fairly tough tales, but there is a little soft centre to them. I do think I’m a Romance writer at heart really, and was happy to add even more Romance to my Prairie Rose book, to make it fit the Western Romance category. (Although, if you should read it, please be aware there are some scenes of quite graphic domestic abuse in this one!)
‘How do you balance writing with the rest of my life? / Describe a typical writing day. / Describe your writing place.’
Well, I am now in the position of being alone, apart from my two doggy ‘girls’, so basically, I can please myself what I do and when. I usually do the ‘mundane’ household chores, and any garden work in the morning, whilst I’m ‘fresh’ (I have heart problems, and tend to get tired later in the day). I then ‘reward’ myself by getting out the laptop, and writing whatever project I am working on at the time. I can write anywhere, when it’s a cold day I will sit in the living room on the big squishy couch, surrounded by the ‘girls’. If it’s a warm day, I open up the conservatory, and sit at the table in the kitchen, near the open doors, where I can see, and smell, my garden. I’ve even been known to whip out the Net book, and work in bed!
‘What are you passionate about, outside of your writing?’
My family. My grown up daughter, Sara, (who has also started writing) and grandchildren, James, 13, and Melanie, 10. Beautiful, good children, but of course, I’m prejudiced!
I love my garden. My favorite things to grow are fruit, vegetables and herbs. I always have a freezer full of produce; and plenty of pickles and conserves on the shelves!
And of course, there are my ‘girls’, Miniature Schnauzers, Poppy (who is all black) and Pepper, (black and silver) they are 7 year old litter sisters, and so have been together all their lives, They have been marvelous company for me since my husband passed away last year.
‘Do your characters come first, or plot, or the world of the story?/How do you go about developing your characters?’
The answer to this seems to vary, according to what I am working on at the time. My first book, ‘The Ghosts of Poynter’ actually came from a dream! When I woke up, I was still ‘seeing’ the whole story and the title, playing out like a film. I wrote that one very quickly.
The second, ‘Crazy Man Cade’, the man himself, simply popped into my head one day, and he wouldn’t leave me alone, until I had ‘brought him to life’ on the page. I think he really is my favorite character up to now, because it felt as though I actually ‘knew’ him in a way, as I was writing him. When I saw the cover art for the book, I couldn’t believe my eyes! He looked almost exactly the way I had pictured the man!
I haven’t really needed to work too hard at developing the characters as such, because they all seemed to be such well-rounded characters right from the start.
‘Saint or Sinner’ came in a similar way, but I did have to work a fair bit harder with this one, as the way of writing is quite different between UK and USA, not just for the spellings, but some of the punctuation and grammar also differs.
I am working on three more projects now, two more Westerns, (one for Hale and one for PRP) and a contemporary Romance. I can’t just stick to one thing, If I get stuck on one, I just put it aside for a while and work on one of the others until something else pops into my head for one of the others.
For more information on Jill, and excerpts from her other books, why not visit her website – http://www.womanwholeads.webs.com
(Both ‘Crazy Man Cade’, and ‘Saint or Sinner’, are still available from Amazon, however ‘The Ghosts of Poynter’ is now sold out! Both of the Hale books are available to borrow from most British Libraries though, and this year they are coming out in Large print, world-wide!)
Well, there you go. Great lady, great writer. Be sure to visit her website for more info.