About the Author
Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography
Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.
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You can also find Mary at these sites:
Seekerville and Petticoats & Pistols
1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I actually have a speech I give about what started me writing and it’s too long to give here (Yeah, you’re welcome!). But four things kicked me into opening that Word document and writing ‘it was a dark and stormy night….’ For the first time.
1) I had a friend write a book and I was so impressed by it, very different from what I do, but I made such a fuss over admiring it, she said, “Try writing one of your own.”
2) My daughter wrote a book, about ten pages long, for a school assignment, but it had the seed of a really cool story about the Bermuda Triangle. I asked her if I could take it, lengthen it, turn it into a whole book (she was ten years old, should I have needed to negotiate?) She said, “Keep your hands off my book and write your own.” (a little more politely than that, but I got the message.
3) I got a computer. An old thing you practically needed to stoke coal into, but it worked. The way I write, editing and revising over and over…I can’t imagine doing that without a computer.
4) My baby went to Kindergarten. After about yikes…twenty years as a stay at home mom, I had my mornings free, with a computer and some ideas and a couple of nudges. And I sat down to start writing and whatever made me START….I found out I loved it. It was the most fun I’d ever had.
2. What authors do you enjoy? Do these authors inspire your own writing?
My ‘writing inspirations’ are a little strange I suppose. Four authors (is this interview about groups of four???) But three made me wonder, “How did that do that? How did they grab me and drag me inside this book so I was riding that horse? I was the woman in peril? I was saving the world?” I’ve heard people say they started writing because they read a book so bad they thought, “I can do better than that.” Not me. I read books so good it made me wonder, “Can I do that?”
1) They are Walter Farley and his Black Stallion books. I read voraciously as a child and in those books, I was in the race. I could smell the dust, hear the pounding hooves, feel those big horse bodies brushing against each other as they raced. Brilliant writing. The first time I can remember being aware of an author really deeply catching me and making me part of the story.
2) Mary Higgin Clark. Her books are a roller coaster ride. Wow, I read her first book as a young adult and remember closing it at the end and looking for the authors name and wondering, “How did she do that?”
3) Clive Cussler. He has this writing style where he takes like three or four separate, seemingly unconnected stories and set them on a collision course. He takes you up to a cliffhanger moment, then jumps to another story. Well, you’re FURIOUS because you don’t want to leave THIS story, then the first sentence of the next chapter it’s like OH YEAH WE LEFT THE HERO HANGING FROM A CLIFF! And you’re right back in deep. Done well, it’s brilliant, addictive storytelling at it’s finest. Impossible to put down.
And the fourth didn’t so much inspire me to write…as it is like the foundation of what I do.
4) Louis L’Amour. I’ve learned in my writing life that not only is he a talented researcher to be trusted, but also if the TRUTH is different than what L’Amour says, just forget the truth and go with Louis, because he’s so fundamental to the western genre that no one is going to believe me anyway if I disagree with him.
3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming an author ever cross your mind?
Well, I wrote a book when I was twelve. So it must’ve sort of crossed my mind. But the thing I remember wanting to do when I grew up was…I wanted to build roads. I remember the first time I was driven under an overpass. Like my first Interstate, big city ride. (Have I mentioned I’m OLD and from way out in the country?) The connection I remember vaguely is, we were studying ancient Rome in school and I’d read that there were old roads that had survived all this time from ancient roads. And I went under that overpass and thought, “This would survive. It might cave in and even be buried beneath a century of dirt, but it was too big to ever really go away, just like the ancient Roman roads.” And I loved the complexity of the on and off ramps and the curves and multiple lanes. I wanted to do that. It would last through the ages. And now, I write books, and those last through the ages too, and I don’t have to pour any cement.
4. When not writing, what other "hats" do you wear?
Mostly Wife and Mom and Grandma. Daughter, too, my mom is 90 and she lives near me and she’s the sweetest lady ever. I help somewhat with My Cowboy (which is what I call my husband on Facebook). But mostly I just get to go along when he checks cattle. Sometimes I stand in an open gate, so I help there because a well-trained cattle dog could do that, but a well-trained cattle dog is expensive and My Cowboy is already feeding me.
5-What top 5 books do you currently have on your TBR pile?
1) Secret Past by Sharee Stover
2) Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers by seven of my favorite authors, including Erica Vetsch
3) Safe in the Cowboy’s arms by Tina Radcliff
4) Her Secret Daughter by Ruth Logan Herne
5) and something weird and sort of fun, Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child-A thriller about a beast that hatched out of some archeological relics brought back to the New York Museum of Natural History and now is roaming in the sub-basement and picking off the occasional human morsel.
6. What inspired the idea for The Accidental Guardian?
I’ve been fascinated for a long time with the pathfinders from American history. Louis and Clark, Kit Carson, Jim Bridger. I always feel like I just have NO GRASP of the vastness of the American frontier. So, I had this idea in my head of, “Could someone stranded and alone in the wild west get so hopelessly lost he really had no choice but to stay there and learn to survive. That’s the nugget of my story. This half-grown boy, alone after a wagon train massacre, with the snow coming down and the trail not that easy to see on a good day.
And ten years pass and Trace Riley is now one of the toughest men in the west and so lonely he can hardly bear it. And he comes across another wagon train massacre and a pretty young woman who survived it with her sister and two little children. Trace becomes their Accidental Guardian.
7. What do you want readers to take away from reading The Accidental Guardian?
Well, what I want first, last and always is, for my readers to have so much fun reading my books they can’t put them down. Beyond that, I write from a Christian world view. A simpler way to put it, I want my 90-year-old mom to read them and not be ashamed of me. I suspect that if anyone gets any great take-away from my books they are either imagining it or I put it in there by accident.
8a. What is your current WIP?
I have just turned in the galleys…that’s the final read-through…of The Reluctant Warrior, book two in the High Sierra Series. And I’ve turned my attention to revisions for The Unexpected Champion, Book #3 in that series.
8b. What can you share with us about this project?
The Reluctant Warrior is now available for pre-order. In The Accidental Guardian, Trace Riley finds and protects two women and two yung children. Trace and Deb, and especially Deb’s younger sister Gwen have fallen in love with them. Now one of them has a Pa still alive. Cameron Scott comes to get his son and niece. But Gwen doesn’t want to let them go. Cam’s been away at war and now he’s got another battle on his hands, getting his children away from that child stealing Gwen Harkness.
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