Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Interview with historical novelist Meggan Connors

Today’s guest is historical novelist Meggan Connors as she promotes her newest book, a western steampunk romance called Jessie’s War (Civil War Steam).

Meggan will be awarding a silver pocket watch pendant and a cameo choker, and a signed paperback copy of The Marker, her historical romance to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US/CANADA ONLY) Make sure to leave an e-mail addy with a comment below for a chance to win. And if you’d like to increase your odds of winning, stop by and comment at Meggan’s other tour stops.

Meggan Connors is a wife, mother, teacher and award-winning author who writes primarily historical and steampunk romances. As a history buff with a love of all things historical, she enjoys visiting both major and obscure museums, and reading the histories of the Old West and the British Isles. She makes her home in the Wild West with her lawman husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she can usually be found hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow, or with her nose in a book. Favorite vacation destinations include the sun-kissed hills of California, any place with a castle or a ghost (and both is perfect!), and the windswept Oregon coast.

Welcome, Meggan. Please tell us about your current release.
Set against the backdrop of a prolonged American Civil War, Jessie’s War is about a woman who needs to learn to trust again after a long-ago betrayal and hard years of living as an outcast.

She's about to become a pawn in a brutal game between nations...

The American Civil War has raged for more than ten years. The outcast daughter of a famous inventor, Jessica White has struggled to salvage what little remains of her life. Then, one cold winter night, the lover she'd given up for dead returns, claiming the Union Army bought the plans for her father's last invention. But he's not the only one who lays claim to the device, for the Confederacy wants the invention as well. Both sides will kill to have it.

...And only he can save her.

As an agent for the Union Army, Luke Bradshaw is a man who will use whomever and whatever is at his disposal in order to complete his mission. An attack by Confederate soldiers ensures that Jessie will turn to him for help, but Luke can't help but wonder about the secrets she keeps--and if those secrets will ultimately prove fatal.

What inspired you to write this book?
Since I started writing, I’ve been writing westerns. One day, I was looking at a map of the mines underneath Virginia City, Nevada. Beneath the city is a warren of mineshafts—the map was even color-coded to help you keep the shafts straight. As I was looking at it, I thought to myself: “Wow, what a great place for a mad scientist.” I had visions of zombies, mad geniuses, and magical aether.

While none of those things actually show up in Jessie’s War (we have scientists and inventors, but none of them are precisely mad), the story did develop from that small kernel of an idea!

Someone knocked, and Muha’s tentative barking turned hysterical.
Taking her revolving shotgun back down, she crept to the lever that would pull down the shutters and arm the Gatling gun mounted to the rooftop.
Go home, sheriff. Not talking to you today.”
“It’s not the sheriff.”
Her hand froze and the shotgun clattered to the floor. Gooseflesh dotted her arms and her pulse quickened, a frantic rat-a-tat-tat like a hail of bullets, as her body recognized what her logical mind denied.
The room went quiet. Muha sat with her ears pricked up, her tail thumping cautiously against the worn pine floor. The wolf recognized the gravelly voice, too.
The knock became more insistent, sharper. “Please open the door, Jessie.”
It was a dead man’s voice.
She struggled to fill her lungs with air as the pine door shook beneath her visitor’s heavy fists. Those hands would be big and strong and ridged with calluses. Her heart twisted painfully in her chest, and she tried not to think about them. Or their owner.
She’d gotten over his loss just like she’d gotten over all the others.
With trembling hands, Jessie picked up her shotgun and rested it against the wall. Her legs leaden, she walked to the door and put her hand on the knob, but hesitated.
She’d dreamed of this moment for years, of this man walking back into her life.
Now she couldn’t bring herself to let him in.
“Please. It’s freezing out here.”
She turned the knob, and Luke Bradshaw stood in her doorway, the brim of his hat heavy with snow, and small flakes clung to the dark lashes fringing his silver eyes.
He was as tall as she remembered, towering over her as he stood on her sagging front porch, bringing with him the scent of smoke and sulfur and snow. A black slouch hat covered his head and rested low over his eyes, and a black duster swirled around his bright-spurred boots. The silver six-shooter on his left hip glittered in the low light, and a large, black satchel was strapped to his broad back.
Muha pushed her head past the door.
Luke gave her a lopsided smile and took off his hat. “Hi, Jess.” A scar she didn’t remember ran through his right eyebrow, and another creased his chin. He held his hand out to Muha and scratched behind her grizzled ears, the way he always used to greet her. He handed her a piece of jerky, and despite the long years, a friendship was immediately rekindled. “There’s a girl.”
“Luke.” Jessie reached out to touch his cheek. The stubble of his unshaven jaw was rough beneath her palm, and his skin was cold. Her fingers trembled as she traced his lips, his breath warm against them.
He kissed her fingertips.
Dead men didn’t breathe or kiss a girl’s fingers. Dead men didn’t leave as boys and come back as men. Dead men didn’t come home with new scars or shiver with cold.
“You’re alive,” she whispered.
His sweet, boyish smile melted her heart, and something inside her, denied for far too long, splintered and howled in despair.
She slapped him.
The crack echoed in the empty, snow-lit darkness behind him. Jessie stepped back to slam the door on this would-be ghost who had the gall to walk back into her life and act as if he’d never left.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, I’m working on a follow up to Highland Sons, my historical novel. It’s tentatively called Highland Deception. After that, I think I’m going to go back to steampunk and work on a follow up to Jessie’s War called Belle of Baton Rouge.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A real writer? I don’t know if I do, even after three published books. For as long as I can remember, I’ve written—stories, tortured poetry, novels, you name it. It wasn’t until I really started pursuing publication that I started telling people that, in my free time, I write. So, I guess that was about three years ago.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time, which might be why I don’t consider myself a “real writer.” I do have the “dreaded day job,” which I really do enjoy (I’m lucky that way). So, because I teach during the day, my work day looks something like this:
6:00: Wake up, roll over, get the phone, and check e-mail. Do a promotional Twitter thing if the mood strikes me.
6:30: Get out of bed, get in the shower. By this time, I’m usually feeling a little less old.
7:00: Wake up the kids, if they’re not already up. The small one is always up, but I usually have to find him some socks and tell him to put his shoes on the right feet. The sock gnomes don’t often visit my household to sort socks, so we have a sock basket. Need socks? Go to the sock basket and find two that go together. None of them match? Well, I hear it’s trendy to wear mismatched socks.
7:30-7:45: Pack lunches for everyone. Do the dishes if we didn’t do them the night before. And have coffee. Need coffee. (Thank heaven for Husband. He’s always made the coffee by the time I get downstairs)
8:00: Load everyone into the car and leave for work.
8:15: Get to work (Yay! A short commute!)
4:30 or 5:00: Leave work, take Thing One and/or Thing Two to whatever sporting event they may need to go to. If we have two at the same time, Husband will go to one, I will go to the other.
6:00-6:30 Home. Make dinner. (This can often mean that I stop by the store, get a rotisserie chicken and a bag salad, or it could mean fast food. If I’ve been good, I assembled the meal in the crockpot the night before, or at least have something ready to go into the oven sitting in the fridge. Alas, I am not perfect.)
7:00: Homework checks/piano practice
7:30: Showers for everyone (because, by this time, everyone smells like a wet dog). Husband will either do the dishes or a load of laundry, depending on what we need done.
8:00 Bedtime for kids. I start writing.
10:00: Bad writing night? I go to bed.
12:00: Good writing night? I go to bed.  

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I will struggle with a story until I’ve assigned a song to it. Once I’ve found the song that captures the tone of the story, the story seems to almost write itself. For instance, for Jessie’s War, the song(s) I assigned to it were: This is Why We Fight by The Decemberists, and Dead Letter and the Infinite Yes by Wintersleep.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What didn’t I want to be? Shucks, I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, an archeologist, a scientist (probably a mad one, if we’re being honest), an author, a teacher, a marine biologist (alas, the sea sickness go the better of me on this one), a botanist (the realization that I can’t keep plants alive took the fire out of this idea), a mom, and an investigator.

I’ve done three of those. I guess those aren’t bad odds.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
It’s crazy, but I have this recurring nightmare where I’m back in high school and, in the middle of Advanced Algebra class, I turn into a giant hamburger. I’ve had this dream since I was actually in that Advanced Algebra class. I still haven’t decided what it means...

Ways to get in touch:

Thanks for having me! This has been fun!

Definitely my pleasure, Meggan (really got a kick out of your schedule). Happy touring!

Readers, remember the giveaways: Meggan will be awarding a silver pocket watch pendant and a cameo choker, and a signed paperback copy of The Marker, her historical romance to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US/CANADA ONLY) Make sure to leave an e-mail addy with a comment below for a chance to win.


Meggan Connors said...

Thanks for having me today, Lisa!

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today

Rita Wray said...

Reading about your day made me exhausted. I can't imagine writing after such a long day. I'll stick to reading. lol


Andra Lyn said...

lol! I was the same as a kid! Artist, Astronaut, Barbie Queen...I wanted to be them all! Thanks for the interview!

andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

bn100 said...

Nice inspiration for the book

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for stopping by, everyone!

Ingeborg: The day is tiring, but it's so worth it.

Andra: When she was two, my girl wanted to be a part time mermaid, part time polar bear. I think she gets it from me!

BN: Thank you!


PS Sorry for the anonymous--I'm not computer adjacent, and my phone and blogger have issues!