Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jennie's Winner

Marti M

      Welcome to another author interview. We sit here today in oh-so-comfortable Adirondack chairs on the expansive porch of a local lodge pole resort surrounded by tall pines and gaze out over the snow peaked mountains of Colorado. Mmmm....the fresh air smells so wonderful! I'd like you to meet Jennie Marsland, author of a western romance that is sure to tug at your heart strings as she puts a new twist on the mail order bride story. She brings her characters to life and makes them unforgettable, which is what we all strive for as writers.

Deanna:  Jennie, welcome and thank you for joining us today. I look forward to learning more about this tough hero of yours but first, tell us a bit about YOU as a person that your readers might not know.

Jennie:  I appreciate you having me here today, thank you. I remember, at the age of five or six, hearing my grandmother describe me as an old soul. I think she was right. I’ve always been a retrospective person. That’s why I write historicals. Glimpses of the past spark my imagination. I also have a dry sense of humor. Mark Twain is right up my alley. “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool, then to speak up and remove all doubt.”

 Deanna:  That saying says more than we know! What happened in your life that made you want to become a writer?

Jennie:  Nothing specific. I grew up listening to my parents and grandparents tell stories, and I was born with a vivid imagination.

Deanna:    Do you write under a pen name?

Jennie:  Yes. I also write for children, and when I get published in that field I want to use my real name to avoid confusion.

 Deanna:   Is there a certain type of character that is easier to write than another?

Jennie:  Not for me. Unless a character comes to life in my mind I can’t write about them, and once they do, they write themselves.

Deanna:  Do you read in the same genre that you write in?

Jennie:  Yes. I’ve always loved historical fiction, and Westerns in particular. I grew up on Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. I also read historical romance by authors like Deborah Hale, Julianne MacLean, Anna Campbell and Pamela Clare.

Deanna:   Tell us about McShannon’s Chance and where it's available.

Jennie:  McShannon’s Chance, my first novel, is now available as an e-book and in print from Bluewood Publishing, and in print from Amazon and Barnes&Noble. The book is an historical Western, set in the Colorado Territory in 1871.

The hero, Trey McShannon, is a Civil War veteran, a Georgia boy who fought for the Union and decided it would be smart to make tracks for the West afterwards. After spending a few years getting his homestead up and running, Trey realizes he’s overworked and lonely and sends for a mail-order bride. He gets Beth Underhill, a watercolor artist from a once-affluent Eastern family, now in reduced circumstances. Trey needs a wife and Beth needs a home, it’s as simple as that…until the sparks of attraction start flying between them. Trey is still haunted by his wartime experiences, and Beth has been hurt by a man she thought she loved, so they have a lot of work to do before they can find happiness together.

Deanna:   May we please sample an excerpt (PG-13 or lower) from McShannon's Chance?  Please provide a taste and a link to read the rest.

Jennie:  With pleasure.  Here’s the first meeting between Trey and Beth:  

Beth turned to the store window and watched the man she’d agreed to marry walk toward her. Twenty-seven years old, six feet tall, dark hair and eyes. She’d described herself to him in similar meaningless terms. She supposed he’d find them as inadequate as she did. His rangy frame could have carried more weight, but he had the muscle of a man who did physical work. His long, quick stride suggested latent energy. The way he wore his faded denim work pants, collarless homespun shirt and battered cloth cap made her think he rarely dressed any other way. She would have guessed him to be over thirty; there wasn’t much of youth about him.

That impression didn’t change when he stepped into the store. Long, thick dark lashes shadowed his molasses-colored eyes, set deep under heavy brows. His straight, wayward, near-black hair needed a trim. The stubble on his angular jaw didn’t make him any less intimidating.

“Excuse me, Miss, are you Beth Underhill?” He spoke coolly, almost to the point of curtness, with a bare hint of a drawl.

Beth’s stomach jolted when their eyes met. She swallowed and caught hold of the edge of a shelf to stop herself from stepping back. Idiot, say something. When she found her voice, it sounded odd and distant to her ears.“Yes. You must be Trey McShannon.”

It helped that he looked as uncomfortable as she felt. Beth held out her hand. Warm, callused fingers closed around hers and released.

“I am. How was the trip out? The road can be bad in the spring.”

“It wasn’t too bad.”

The clerk stood behind the counter looking from one to the other, avidly curious. The corners of Trey’s mouth tugged upward with subtle amusement as he handed her a list. “Could you put this together for me, June? We’ll pick it up in twenty minutes or so.” Without saying anything more, he picked up Beth’s bags and walked out.

With a glimmer of mischief, Beth turned to the counter. Since June was bound to talk, why not give her something to talk about? “Will you please add something to that order? A couple of pairs of waist overalls. My size.”

June nodded. Beth turned and followed Trey, leaving the woman staring after her.

If this tastes like more, here’s a link to the book at Bluewood Publishing’s bookstore:


  BlueWood Publishing

Deanna:   That tugs on my interest. I enjoy the mail order bride stories too! I understand you’re a high school science teacher.  How would you describe your job?

Jennie:  Rewarding, stressful at times, and above all, never boring. For example, in my first year as a teacher I was doing a lab on acids and bases with my Grade Nine class. Each group of students had two flasks of clear liquid, one marked Acid and the other marked Base. I gave them a big safety spiel before we started, and one boy was determined not to take me seriously. He held up the flask marked Acid and said “If I drink this will it kill me?” I thought he was joking, so I just shrugged and said “Yeah, right.” HE DRANK IT. It was only vinegar in water, but he didn’t know that.

Deanna:  So you have to watch out for some of the kids who don't take precautions seriously! Big responsibility. On to lighter things, let's pretend you're out with friends at a bar, and it's Karaoke Night. Would you be in the spotlight, blasting out tune after tune; watching everyone else take the stage with an amused grin; or somewhere in the middle?

Jennie:  Probably somewhere in the middle.  I like to sing and play guitar and I’ve done some performing, but in front of a rowdy bar crowd…I’d need a little priming with alcohol first.

Deanna: Please share with me your favorite reader review quote for McShannon's Chance, and tell me why it is so special to you.

Jennie:  I recently had a wonderful review from Julia Smith, a fellow RWA member who writes a very smart blog, ‘A Piece of My Mind’ (and I’m not just saying that because she liked my book!) Here’s my favorite comment:  “Where this novel excels as a romance are the scenes between Beth and Trey as they begin their relationship with an endpoint - an arranged partnership - and work backwards through their courtship. Jennie has written a 3D-High Definition cowboy in Trey McShannon. No mistaking who's talking when he and Beth are together. He's a man of few words, of unwavering gazes that size Beth up. And Beth, true to form as a woman ahead of her time, is not feisty so much as sassy as she teases Trey with delightful zingers.”  I  love this quote because for me, there’s nothing better than hearing that my characters really came to life for a reader. 

Deanna:  As authors, our reader comments and letters to us are so important for feedback. Do you have a favorite ethnic food dish?  If so, how did it become your favorite?

Jennie:  Sushi is my favorite ethnic dish, bar none. I was introduced to it about twenty years ago by a friend, and it was love at first taste. Living on the coast we get wonderful fresh fish, and sushi restaurants have sprouted like weeds here over the last few years. 

Deanna:   Tell us about your next project.

Jennie:  My next book is a prequel to Chance, McShannon’s Heart. It’s contracted to Bluewood and will be released this summer, no firm date as yet. Heart tells the story of Trey McShannon’s twin sister, Rochelle, who accompanies her father to his old home in the Yorkshire Dales at the outbreak of the Civil War. Unable to choose between the man she expected to marry and loyalty to her family, Chelle thinks she’s leaving love behind her. Martin Rainnie, a widowed Dales farmer who happens to be a talented fiddle player, has turned his back on his music and his baby daughter. He wants nothing to do with love, but Chelle’s relatives are fostering his little girl and the little one gradually draws Martin and Chelle together. I enjoyed putting some of my own love of music into this story, and I fell in love with the Yorkshire Dales years ago through James Herriot’s stories. As for Martin, he’s a tough nut to crack but I love him.

Deanna:  Jennie, it sounds like another winner coming up for you. I wish you the best of luck with both of them. Readers, if you'd like to be in the drawing for an e-book of McShannon's Chance, leave Jennie a comment here. She'll be around today to comment back for those who might have a question or two for her. This will be up through Friday so tell your friends to come take a peek at Jennie's interview and... good luck to all of you. I also want to thank each of you for popping in today and spending time with us. Jennie, again...thank you so much! I've enjoyed our time together. Hey, is that Trey on that horse out there, coming toward us??