I’m delighted to welcome my dear friend author Barbara Bettis to discuss her writing life and her latest book, Last Stop, Wylder. Welcome, Barb!
Thanks, Anastasia. I love visiting you here— where I’m always hoping to see a handsome medieval knight slip through time.
1) What sort of books did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you have a favorite book or series?
Oh, goodness. I honestly read everything I could get my hands on. But my earliest recollection of favorites were myths and folk tales from around the world—including the Knights of the Round Table. Attitudes were different—or at least as they affected me—about reading material back then (the 1950s), so my parents were absolutely fine with whatever I wanted to read. Of course, ‘back then’ there were still books that were ‘censored’ so they weren’t readily available to kids. Like most of us, I did gobble up the Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys, Trish Belden. But I have to tell you about one book I read in high school. I don’t recall the name, I don’t recall the author. I only recall a scene where several high school kids were in a car that was going waaay too fast and crashed. The description of the accident scene tattooed itself on my mind—and affected my driving for years after.
Oh, wow. The driving -- I would say that could have been a good thing, but it must have made you terribly anxious. Being cautious is one thing, being anxious and afraid something else.
2) What sort of books do you enjoy reading nowadays?
I’m so lucky to have author friends who write in all genres, and I try my best to read their work as it comes out. That includes my fellow Roses. But if I have to choose, I’d have to say my first go-to is historical romance and historical fiction. I can get as lost in a research book as I can a novel.
3) Around what age did you realize that you liked to write? And when did you know that you wanted to write books?
I honestly can’t recall for either. It seems always to have been a part of me.
Aww, I love that. Same here, I think.
4) What’s the first thing you wrote that you remember being proud of?
A poem in the first grade. It was just a little rhymed verse about a flower. In later years, much to my disappointment, I learned that I was not a poet. LOL.
5) Tell us about the creative force within you. What inspires you to write, to create?
I sincerely wish I had a touching, uplifting, and/or heartwarming answer. I don’t. I just hear and see stories in my mind. They can be triggered by something I read or someone I see or often a situation that clings to my thoughts. Sometimes an idea starts with a character in a situation; sometimes one starts with a situation that eventually populates with characters. Sometimes it’s the ‘What If’ or a ‘What would you feel like’ incident. Once I was inspired to plot a short story—which I never wrote, by the way—after watching a TV news reporter interview starving refugees in another country. Having been a newspaper reporter for years, I wondered what it would feel like to do that story. To get up at a hotel, have coffee, eggs, bacon-or a sweet roll, then go out to intercept a refugee caravan for an interview.
Hearing about the deprivation, the starvation, the life-changing and life-threatening stories the people told. Seeing the hunger in the eyes of a child. Then hop in a car and go back to my world of plenty. What would it feel like if I were the refugee, being interviewed like that? Gosh, I’m really going on and on. Let me give you an idea that did result in my first published book. I was intrigued by mercenaries (Who knows why?). And I thought that surely all of them couldn’t be lawless, horrible, mean guys. How would one feel if he truly was a good person, wanting only to better himself, yet everyone was frightened and superstitious about him because of his occupation. I could see a defensive—but inside, bewildered—man sitting a horse with villagers backing away, leaving him in a vacant circle. Thus Giles “Silverhawk” was born.
6) What’s your writing space like?
I think it’s neat—my family says, “Why don’t you decorate in here?”
LOL! Nothing wrong with being tidy!
7) Do you have a favorite time of day to write? Any habits or little rituals that put you in a writing mindset?
Nope. Some days early, some days late. I’ve tried to establish a routine, but there are days my muse simply goes shopping and leaves me all alone, thinking one more cup of coffee will snap my imagination into action. It doesn’t.
8) Congratulations on your latest release, Last Stop, Wylder! You have broken into a new genre! You must know how much I love your medieval romances, but this is exciting! Was it difficult to research and write? Please tell us all about it.
Thank you for that, Anastasia. The thoughts are sincerely returned! About the change--It was challenging because I had so much to clarify. I thought I knew, but I needed to verify so much about clothing, etc. Then getting to research women’s right to vote in Wyoming (they always could!!), early train service, frontier newspapers. I was surprised at how ‘modern’ some of my findings proved. But that’s a whole ’nother post
9) I realize you’ve just published a new book and I know what that takes. Still, I can’t help but ask – do you have another story waiting in the wings?
A couple of medievals are circling my mind, as is a Regency story. I’ve done narrative outlines of all of them, but haven’t settled on just what will be next. Right now, I’m ready to send off a short story to my editor. A medieval.
10) Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I would! I’d like to thank every reader who spends his or her hard-earned dollars on my—and every author’s—books. We writers want to tell the stories filling our heads and hearts, yes. But we also want to entertain you. To make you chuckle, or scowl, or even swipe a tear—and remember our names. Happily.
Barb, thank you for sharing your time with us today. I wish you continued joy and success.
And now, about the book, Last Stop, Wylder.
A gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s trust can shatter.
Gunman Morgan Dodd is headed to a new life in California, where no one knows his name. Or his reputation. Just one last job to raise money for his fresh start—gunhand for a railroad agent in Wyoming. Easy enough. Until he meets the woman who could change everything.
After ending her engagement, Emily Martin longs for independence. She sets out for Wylder, Wyoming, to help her brother with his newspaper. But when she arrives, she finds he’s off investigating a story. Well, then! She’ll simply publish the paper herself until he returns. Emily’s prepared to face challenges, but not the dangerous stranger who ambushes her heart. The same man hired to destroy her livelihood.
When a common enemy threatens, Morgan and Emily must find a way to defeat danger and save their budding love. But a gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s trust can shatter
Meet Barbara Bettis
Multi-award-winning author Barbara Bettis can't recall a time she didn't love adventures of daring heroes and plucky heroines. A retired journalist and college English and journalism teacher, she lives in Missouri where she tries to keep her grandchildren supplied with cookies. When she's not editing for others, she's working on her own stories with heroines to die for-- and heroes to live for.
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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