Justine Davis stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the first book in her Raffertys of Last Stand series, Nothing But Cowboy!
Where did you get the inspiration for Nothing But Cowboy?
The idea was born out of my husband’s tendency to adopt people. Not always kids, he was always willing to help anyone, but throughout his adult life he had numerous boys who gravitated to him because he could teach them things they wanted to know. He could build anything, from houses to cars (such as my own classic Corvette) and fix almost anything that broke. One came around because he loved cars and his father didn’t, another because he’d lost his own father. Some were around for years, not simply to learn but because they could talk to my husband in a way they never could to their parents. But he had rules and they respected them, and him, and more than once he got them started on a better path. And that was the kind of huge heart I wanted to portray in this story.
This is the first book in the Raffertys of Last Stand series, but it isn’t your first time writing a story set in Last Stand. What was it like to come back? Will we see any familiar faces?
Actually, I never left Last Stand, mentally, anyway. I’ve been in love with the place since we first dreamed it up! It was great fun to set up a new family, with some of the same Texas themes but very different characters. And you will absolutely see familiar faces; Keller Rafferty, the hero of Nothing But Cowboy, is a close friend of Shane Highwater’s, and he and Kane Highwater’s beloved Lark Leclair are a big part of an important scene. In fact, all the Highwaters make an appearance of sorts, either on stage or off.
What song would be in the soundtrack to Keller and Sydney’s love story? Why?
Definitely a song written and performed by my dear, much-missed friend, Hal Ketchum. It’s called “I Know Where Love Lives” and the lyrics could easily be said by Keller to Sydney. It starts with all the places love doesn’t live, like grand hotels, beach houses, and big yachts, then goes on to say love lives in places full of laughter and tears and toys. It ends with “You keep your mansions of gold, I don’t care/Because I know where love lives.” Keller could easily be saying this to the wealthy, world traveling Sydney.
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 Nothing But Cowboy?
I usually know the bare bones of a character, or something significant about them that I think I can build on. Sometimes I’ll start with an image that catches my eye and makes me think “Hmm, there’s a story there.” Sometimes I know their backstory, roughly, but haven’t worked out how that will affect the character today. But they also develop and sometimes change as I go. And I never know everything about them, nor would I want to, because one of my favorite moments in writing is when, later in a story, it suddenly hits me: “So that’s why he did/said that back then!” In Nothing But Cowboy, Keller was who he was, rock solid and Texas strong. It was Sydney who was trickier to figure out, especially how the way she’d grown up had affected her. And how despite an awful beginning, she’d built something amazing.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently—and very belatedly—reading J. K. Rowling’s adult series featuring war hero turned private detective Cormoran Strike. I’d meant to long ago and got sidetracked, but now that I’ve started I’m gobbling them up! I love the complexity of the stories, and the way the hero’s mind works, his inner battles, and the London setting. I even enjoy having to look up the occasional British-ism that I don’t know.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author of more than 70 books, (she sold her first ten in less than two years) Justine Davis is a five time winner of the coveted RWA RITA Award, including for being inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. A fifteen time nominee for RT Book Review awards, she has won four times, received three of their lifetime achievement awards, and had four titles on the magazine’s 200 Best of all Time list. Her books have appeared on national best seller lists, including USA Today. She has been featured on CNN, taught at several national and international conferences, and at the UCLA writer’s program.
After years of working in law enforcement, and more years doing both, Justine now writes full time. She lives near beautiful Puget Sound in Washington State, peacefully coexisting with deer, bears, a pair of bald eagles, a tailless raccoon, and her beloved ’67 Corvette roadster. When she’s not writing, taking photographs, or driving said roadster (and yes, it goes very fast) she tends to her knitting. Literally.