History Hoydens

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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

30 January 2007

Welcome, Cheryl St. John

The Lawman's Bride
by Cheryl St. John
Harlequin Historicals--February 1st

Kidnapped as a child, sold to a con man, she'd fast learned how to sweet-talk her way out of trouble. Now all Sophie wanted was to be left alone to build a new life—one that was honest and decent, based on truth, not trickery.

Clay Connor was the last man she should care about. Upright and honorable, the town's marshal deserved better than a woman with a tainted past. But if only Sophie could learn to trust again, she might find this lawman would make her new life complete.…

The Lawman’s Bride is set in Newton, Kansas. How did you become interested in this time period? What do you love about it?

I did quite a bit of research of the Harvey Girls for a previous book, The Doctor’s Wife, and always wanted to revisit the town and some of the characters. The Lawman’s Bride was a heroine on the run story I’d been wanting to tell, and this was the perfect setting.

What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?

On occasion I get a little weary of the farm/ranch life and can’t make my heroine perform one more tedious chore. That’s when I create an off the wall heroine or write a contemporary.

What sparked ths book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?

It was definitely the characters. I’m a character-driven writer. Once I get a concept of a person in my head, I figure out who will be the “perfect” (read: most unlikely) person to pair them with. Since Sophie Hollis is on the run from the law and the villain, the hero had to be the city marshal.

Did you have to do any major research for his book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?

I had researched the town and the hotel and restaurant for a previous book, so I brushed up on the Harvey Girl ettiquette, the clothing and menus and stuck my map to the wall. I have a great city map of Newton, Kansas that the historical society gave me. I also have a city directory, so I know names and locations of business owners. The rest…I make up.

What/Who do you like to read?

I go in spurts where I read everything by one author, then another, then backlists, then old favorites and then I make myself read something from the best seller list. Since I’m a Americana/western fan, my favorites are probably similar to anyone else who loves the genre. LaVyrle Spencer, Maggie Osborne, Lisa Gregory, Megan Chance, Jill Marie Landis, Lorraine Heath, just to barely name a few. I love Sharon Sala, Janet Evanovich, Susan Wiggs, Anne Frasier, Dean Koontz, and too many to mention.

Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

I start with a story grid where I have my character traits in hand, know the conflict and their backstories, decide the main plot points, and from those I write the synopsis which sells the book. Once I start writing, I refer to that synopsis, keep the main turning points in mind, and the characters lead me from scene to scene. My synopsis usually says “and a series of events leads them to understand” and by the middle I’m wondering what that series of events was and why I didn’t think it through better. That’s where I do some adjusting, read from the beginning and get out my handy-dandy list of Twenty Five Things That Could Happen and push forward. I keep my page count in mind and check off my daily and weekly goals by pages written.

On Mondays I edit what I write the week before and move forward. By the time I reach the end, I’ve read it the whole thing through several times, so do a spell check and make sure the chapters are formatted. It’s clean by then and ready to submit.

What are you planning to work on next?

I have a July release, The Preacher’s Daughter, which is again set in Newton, Kansas and is about Benjamin Chaney, Ellie’s younger brother from The Doctor’s Wife. So many readers wrote and asked for this story. I’m currently writing a Christmas novella for Harlequin Historical’s Western Anthology 2007 and am also contracted for the 2008 anthology.

6 Comments:

Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

On occasion I get a little weary of the farm/ranch life and can’t make my heroine perform one more tedious chore.

LOL! I totally understand THAT. I hate to clean, and I only ever have my heroines clean when they're really, really mad, because that's the only time I'm into it.

-Victoria, who's now wondering if her husband picks the occasional fight with her on purpose. Hmm.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Judy T said...

Sigh, must hop over to Amazon and add yet ANOTHER book to my reading wish list. ;-D It's so interesting to read how each writer works through the process.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Newton, Kansas? It's a real town right? I think I've been there.

Cool. I can picture the setting and the characters already.

Thanks for stopping by Cheryl!

3:44 PM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Hey Gang, big wave from Africa! This books just sounds so good . . . I used to read tons of westerns, just loved 'em, and Diane Whiteside's THE SOUTHERN DEVIL totally got me hooked again. LOL! I just wish I could have this for the plane ride home.

12:17 AM  
Blogger CherylStJ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:37 AM  
Blogger CherylStJ said...

(I wish there was spell check in the comment section!)

Victorica - Since I mailed my Christmas novella yesterday, it's time for me to clean house, but my nightmare is only beginning, because we just remodeled a powder room and my husband is tearing out a wall soon. I have half of my kitchen and dining room packed. I'm a huge collector with hutches full of china and teapots and cups, so this is quite an undertaking. But the new room will have an entire wall of glass door built-ins - so less dust!


Thanks for ordering the book, Judy!


Kathrynn - Yes, Newton played a prominent part in the westward movement in America because it was a railroad hub. Cattlemen and all sorts of businessmen and their families traveled through. The first book I set there was The Doctor's Wife, and the next one will be The Preacher's Daughter.

Hi, Kalen! Have a wonderful time!

7:38 AM  

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