Today I am pleased to welcome author Alison Bruce to the blog.
Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.
My mother used to compare me to Walter Mitty, James Thurber's fantasy-living hero of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I'm not sure if Mum thought that was a good or bad thing, but my rich fantasy-life provided material for my stories.
From early childhood to late teens, my sister and I used to act out adventures. To keep us from killing each other, we had to adhere to rules about causality and logical consequences. If one of us shot the other (she was always shooting me) then that person was wounded or killed. No bullet-proof characters. (Although afterlife haunting was allowed.)
Now I see my teenage daughter writing and role playing stories with her best friend and I delight in her imagination. My preteen son is a good storyteller too. I used to make up stories about Leprechauns for him. Now he tells me bedtime stories.
That's great that your kids have a wonderful imagination!
Why did you decide to write historical western romance and a near future detective story?
I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, Louis L'Amour and Robert Heinlein. There were others in their respective genres, but their the ones that had the most influence on me.
Writing genre fiction comes naturally to me. It also harks back to role playing and setting up rules. Genre fiction has rules—boundaries that delineate science fiction from fantasy, mystery from thriller, western historical from historical. You can bend and blend the genres, but you have to be aware of the rules to play the game. It makes writing genre writing challenging.
You can bet that whatever I'm writing, there will be mystery, romance, humor and coffee involved.
So, how much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?
I'm a research junkie. I look things up for fun.
Once I have the bare bones of a story laid out, I go to town researching and note taking. Many of my plot points come as a result of this process.
Later, when I'm writing and editing, I often stop to fact-check which sometimes leads to new plot points or at least notes for a future story.
What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?
I've had some great comments and some terrible ones, usually about the same thing. My plots are complex and peopled with quirky characters. If you like that, you'll like my books. If you don't, I'm not the author for you.
The best comment came from a friend of mine. He's a military SF guy and bought Under A Texas Star just because I wrote it. When he was done, he said “When I was reading it, I forgot you wrote it.”
Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?
Yes. I plan and I plow.
I know where my stories are going and have a basic plot worked out. With a mystery, I need to plan where and when clues and red herrings will be presented. That was less important with Under A Texas Star, but crucial with Deadly Legacy.
I don't always know how my characters are going to react to everything that I plan for them. New subplots emerge, others fall by the wayside. That's where I'm more seat-of-the-pants.
What sets your heroines apart from all the other women in your hero’s life? Why is she perfect for him?
My heroines start off as a reflection of me at the time I started the story. They change and become their own people over time, but there are a couple of traits that we always share: sense of humor, and an ability to adapt, however reluctantly, to deal with crises. Yes, I know, not exactly unique human qualities. That's why circumstance plays a big role in bringing my heroes and heroines together.
In Under A Texas Star, would Marly Landers have caught Ranger Strachan's attention if he had caught up with his quarry in her hometown of Cherryville, Kansas? Maybe not. But he meets her on the road and she fools him into thinking she's a boy. He admires her spunk. Shared adventure gives them an opportunity to fall in love.
With Kate Garrett and Jake Carmedy in Deadly Legacy, murder is about the only thing that would have brought them together.
Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Yes and not very well. I get very frustrated when I can't work on my stories—whatever the reason. I'm a copywriter and editor and I can get blocked there too. Switching from nonfiction to fiction sometimes makes it worse. Deadlines help.
Can you give us a little background on your heroes that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story?
There's one thing you'll find in my notes that you'll probably never find in the novels (certainly not the historical western). I've worked out the birthdays, with brief descriptions of their astrological charts, for all of my main characters. I've also given them each the Briggs-Meyers Personality Test.
Describe a favorite scene in your current novel.
You may have noticed that I have a hard time not giving equal time to my two series. It's the mother in me not wanting to play favorites. Picking a favorite scene is even worse. However, scenes I really enjoy writing tend to be ones based on personal experience—with my characters doing it better, or at least funnier than I did.
What else do you have in store for your readers?
Under A Texas Star is going to be followed by a story set in Fortuna Texas, involving the new marshal, Hugh Birke and the daughter of the new school teacher. His first view of her is when she throws up on him. Like me, Morgan Reardon suffers from motion sickness and stage coaches didn't have great suspension.
Deadly Season takes up where Deadly Legacy left off, as Kate and Jake taking their first case as partners in Carmedy and Garrett Investigations
Sounds like great books to look forward to! Thank you for being here today, Alison. Where can we find your books?
Under A Texas Star
Disguised as a boy, Marly joins a handsome Texas Ranger in the hunt for a con man and they must bring the fugitive to justice before giving up the masquerade and giving in to their passion.
When Marly Landers is fooled by con man Charlie Meese, she's determined to bring him to justice--even if it means dressing up as a boy and setting off across the plains to find him.
Texas Ranger Jase Strachan is also after Meese, for crimes committed in Texas. He joins forces with the young boy in a journey that takes them to Fortuna, where a murder interrupts their mission. Jase is duty bound to find the killer, no matter the cost.
Marly carries out her own investigation and comes to the aid of Amabelle Egan, the sister of one of the suspects. But appearances are deceiving, and Marly is mistaken for Amabelle’s suitor, making her a target for the killer. Not to mention, Charlie Meese is still out there.
Under the Texas stars, Marly and Jase are drawn together by circumstances beyond their control, yet fate plots to tear them apart. Will Marly finally get her man?
Even in the future, the past can kill you...
In 2018, rookie detective Kate Garrett lives in the shadow of her near-legendary father Joe. When Joe dies unexpectedly, he leaves Kate half interest in Garrett Investigations, his last case that ties to three murders, a partner she can't stand and a legacy to live up to.
Jake Carmedy has lost a partner, mentor and friend, but grief will come later. First, he has a case to solve, one that has detoured from a simple insurance case to a murder investigation. If that isn’t enough, Joe’s daughter seems to want to take her father’s place as his boss.
No matter how hard they try, Carmedy and Garrett can't avoid each other—and they might be next on a killer's list.