Michelle Beattie stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fifth book in her Tangled Up in Texas series, Cowboy Honor!
Where did you get the inspiration for Cowboy Honor?
I’m not much of a plotter so all I knew as I was writing the series was that Hudson was going to be a military man who wouldn’t be in the picture until the end of the fourth book and that his heroine was going to be the famed “mystery woman” the other Grangers had been wondering about since the beginning.
It took some thought and really playing around with how and why she’d be with Joe Granger at the moment of his heart attack. It needed to be a big enough thing for Joe to get worked up to the point of cardiac arrest. It also couldn’t be something terrible on Avery’s part, because the reader has to like her and sympathize with her. And what’s more sympathetic than a mother doing everything she can for her daughter’s health?
I knew from the get-go Hudson was going to be a man of honor, a take-charge sort of man. A man used to meeting challenges head-on. So what could be better than pairing him with a woman who also liked to hold the reins? I typically write strong, independent woman and so it was a natural fit to make Avery fiercely independent, to the point of being too controlling. I knew it would make great conflict between her and my “take charge and don’t ask questions” military hero that would hopefully keep the reader turning pages.
How do you relate to Avery, your heroine, and how do you hope readers will relate to her? How do you relate to Hudson?
My parents were also alcoholics, so I took my experience with that for Avery and her dad. While my dad never lost his job or his home, he was rarely without a drink and I remember thinking how sometimes the booze seemed more important to him than anything. I hope readers will relate to the fact that, like most of us, there are things in our childhood that hurt us and don’t just go away with time or an apology. The scars are always going to be there and they shape us into who we are.
Hudson “lost” his family when he was a kid. He made another family with his brothers in arms. Having lost my parents, I also have found other people to fill the hole they left. I think many readers will be able to relate to that. When you lose something important, it’s natural to try to find it again.
Are your characters set before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? What did that development process look like for Cowboy Honor?
Oh, they develop as I go, for sure. With Hudson, even though I knew he would step up to the plate right away where his daughter is concerned, it wasn’t until I started writing the book that I realized he would take charge of everything. Which, was a nice bonus as it created opportunities for conflict with Avery who is used to running her own life, not having a man step in and take over, even if Hudson’s intentions were all good.
For Avery I had to soften her slowly. She was so hurt and independent I had to uncover those layers of her personality a bit at a time. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of the story that I realized why she was so much more hurt and bitter than her sister, who’d lived the same experience. I love finding those little gems as I go along the process!
This is the fifth book in your Tangled Up in Texas series. Do you find it harder to write the first book in a series or the subsequent novels?
They’re both equally hard. With Cowboy Up, the first book, I had to create the whole world and backstory and make sure I had the arc for the mystery laid out, which was a first for me as I’ve never written a mystery that encompasses a whole series before. So it was hard to make sure I had enough details of each brother to get a sense of who they were, but not too much that I had no wiggle room left when it was time to reach each of their stories.
Then as each book came up, I had the challenge of making sure I stayed within the world and facts I’d already established while still giving the reader new information. There were a few times I found myself locked into something I wished I could’ve changed but it was too late.
What are you currently reading?
The Rancher Meets His Match by Kate Pearce.
About the Author
Award-winning author Michelle Beattie began writing in 1995, almost immediately after returning from her honeymoon. It took 12 long years but she achieved her dream of seeing her name on the cover of a book when she sold her novel, What A Pirate Desires, in 2007. Since then she’s written and published several more historical novels as well a contemporary. Her pirate books have sold in several languages, been reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly and Romantic Times. Two of her independent self-published works went on to win the Reader’s Choice Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest.
When Michelle isn’t writing she enjoys playing golf, reading, walking her dog, travelling and sitting outside enjoying the peace of country life. Michelle comes from a large family and treasures her brothers and sister as well as the dozens of aunts, uncles and cousins she’s proud to call family. She lives outside a tiny town in east-central Alberta, Canada with her husband, two teenage daughters and their dog, Ty.
I enjoyed the interview and learning more about you and the background of your book.