AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: CORA SETON
Cora Seton has stopped by for a chat… So sit down pull up a lasso (oops a drink) and enjoy the chat…
The Cowgirl Ropes a Billionaire is the story of a veterinarian who is going broke because she can’t bear to euthanize any stray pets, and a billionaire who needs a wife for a year in order to keep control of his family’s business. They both become contestants on the hit reality TV show: Can You Beat a Billionaire.
While I had the idea for the reality television show a long time ago, I didn’t have the characters for it until I wrote the third book in my Cowboys of Chance Creek series: The Cowboy Imports a Bride. Bella, the veterinarian, makes a small appearance in that book, and one of the other characters says, “She’d need to be a millionaire to feed all the strays she keeps.” I started to think about how Bella could become a millionaire and the two ideas fused.
Despite being adversaries, Bella and Evan (the billionaire) click pretty quickly, and it’s just as tough for them to keep their hands off of each other as it is to beat each other in the contests the show throws at them. I had a lot of fun writing this book.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I let the characters dictate the story. I usually have only the faintest idea what’s going to happen when I start out. In fact, often I don’t find out the main theme of the story until I’m three-quarters of the way through. Then I have to go back and fix the beginning.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I started out writing young adult novels, and I still have several of those manuscripts I wish I could finish and publish, but I didn’t hit my stride until I tried writing contemporary romance. Looking back, western romances make sense for me because I like writing characters with strong family ties. My westerns aren’t very traditional, though, and that untraditional streak has run through all of my writing.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Every cowboy is my favorite at the time I write them, but I think Rob Matheson (hero of The Cowboy Imports a Bride) is one of my all-time favorites. He started off such a trouble-maker but he has a tender heart beneath it all. Sigh.
I have a very strong suspicion that Cab Johnson (the hero from The Sheriff Catches a Bride) might also rank right up there. He’s got a terrific sense of humor and though he’s not as flashy as his friends Ethan Cruz, Rob Matheson and Jamie Lassiter, he’s damn sexy when you get to know him.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Claire Cruz (heroine of The Cowboy Wins a Bride) was difficult, because I really disliked her when I introduced her in The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride as the hero’s sister. In that book she was out-of-control mean and I didn’t exactly know why at first. As her story came to me, however, I found out that she was a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown for a number of reasons. She’d been jilted, robbed and misunderstood, among other things, and she couldn’t stand to think everyone else was about to find out what had happened.
Still, she’s acerbic and doesn’t take any nonsense—a far cry from some of my softer heroines. Readers react strongly to Claire and I don’t blame them.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Yes, definitely. Not the characters’ looks or actions so much as their backstories. Almost every character has some element that’s part of my story—even the men!
Autumn Leeds, the heroine from the first book in the Cowboys of Chance Creek series, The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride, has several things in common with me. While I didn’t meet my husband through an online “wife wanted” ad, I did meet him through the personal’s section in a local city magazine, and I was pretty sure he was “the one” in a short span of time. We’ve now been married for 13 years.
Also, like Autumn, I was a highly educated young woman with a strong desire to have a family in my “early” twenties. I actually endured quite a bit of flak for having four children, especially for starting my family at 24, before I’d solidified my career. The truth was at that time I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I did know with every fiber of my being that I wanted to be a mother. I’m glad I had my children “young” (although I have to laugh, since my mother started her family at the same age, and she certainly wasn’t considered young back in those days!).
I feel a kinship with Autumn regarding her career path, too. While her family wants her to become a doctor, her true love is cooking, which her mother feels isn’t a feminist career choice. Like Autumn, I didn’t go for a high-powered career right off the bat out of college. Instead, while my kids were young I ran a large home daycare. I actually made a lot of money—sometimes more money than those high-powered career people—but that didn’t stop me from getting criticized or treated with less respect than my corporate peers.
A point I hope I make in The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride is that modern women get to make all kinds of choices. It’s feminist to expect to have those choices. We can work from home or work outside the home. We can take time off for kids, or work right through their childhoods. And since the men in our lives have more choices than their fathers did, they can arrange their lives in all kinds of ways to help bring in an income and care for the kids, too.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
I tend to write my first drafts in two-week writing marathons. I aim for 5,000 words a day, which isn’t that difficult until the second half of week two. Somewhere around Wednesday or Thursday of that second week I generally have a…ahem…bad day. I think the process of dragging the story out of me gets really emotional around then.
After that the most difficult part is when I’m doing the last few rounds of edits. I often read through my complete manuscript each day for three to five days in a row and that’s hard on my eyes and hard on my sanity, too.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
A few years back, I went through the process of becoming licensed to own long guns and pistols in order to be able to write more accurately about shooting firearms. It was fun!
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Stewart’s chocolate and peanut butter ice cream. I only get it when I visit my parents in New York. Yum. I wish you could order that stuff online.
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
Justified, Game of Thrones, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
No, I wake up and write. It’s like breathing. Although a brisk walk in the morning doesn’t hurt.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I can’t listen to music and write. I need quiet, so no – although….after I started to write western romances, I did tune my car radio to the local country music station. Blake Shelton’s “Boys Round Here” is probably my theme song for the Cowboys of Chance Creek series. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the video for that song on Youtube. Shelton seems to have the kind of offbeat streak with his music that I have with my writing.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
That’s a good question! I don’t see movie stars in my head when I write them, so I had to go and look at photos to answer this.
Just based on his photograph, Paul Walker might do for Evan Mortimer. Amanda Seyfried could be Bella.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was forty and I told my husband first. He’s been my champion throughout this process. That was my first and last contract. I’ve self-published all my other books through my publishing company, One Acre Press.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Oh dear. Eight? Ten, maybe? LOL, my sister and I used to buy used Harlequins at a second-hand store near our family’s summer house for ten cents apiece. Each weekend we’d get five to ten of them, and read them all day while we lay in the sun.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Barbara Kingsolver. Every novel I’ve read of hers is a knockout. I adore Flight Behavior.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I’m a full-time writer. I don’t have time for anything else. J
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
My all-time favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I like to make up holidays, and I’ve designated March as Jane Austin Month. Each year I pick one of her novels to re-read, and I watch all the movies based on her books that I own. It helps me get through the last month of winter.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m working on The Sheriff Catches a Bride, which kind of ends one set of books in the Chance Creek series and sets off a whole new set. The Sheriff Catches a Bride features Cab Johnson and Rose Bellingham—both characters my readers know. The next three books to follow feature Rob Matheson’s older brothers. I don’t see an end to the series anytime soon. I will release The Sheriff Catches a Bride in December, and plan six more novels in the series next year.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Probably Gemma Halliday. I have a partial romantic suspense novel that’s languishing right now. I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to write it because my current series is eating up all my time, but it would be fun to switch genres and pair up with her. She shares my sense of humor.
How do you pick your characters names?
I go to a website called The Top 100 Girl’s Names and The Top 100 Boy’s Names to try to pick up-to-date names, but other names just come from the top of my head. My biggest fear is that I’ll unknowingly name a character after another character in a book I’ve read or a television show I’ve watched. Rob Matheson started as Ben Matheson, who turned out to be a character in Revolution. I felt pretty silly when I figured that out.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Lately I’ve been drawn to write love at first sight books, and I think that’s because the format I’ve chosen is fast-paced novels that are about 50,000 to 60,000 words. The fact that my stories are part of series means that I can keep writing about characters and they can grow beyond their own novels, but the love has to happen fairly fast, or my books would be twice as long.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
I laugh because I know how popular romance novels are, I know how many people have bought and read my books, and I know how important romance novels have been in my life. Besides, it’s so much fun to hang out with other romance writers—way more fun than hanging out with literary writers (who are usually cranky because they can’t get published and don’t like e-books.) When people talk about “real writers” I have a feeling they mean writers whose books no one actually enjoys.
I was an English major and I love great literature. But I’ve told anyone who will listen—the day one of my books gets taught in a classroom is the day you can take me out into the pasture and shoot me. The best way to make kids (or adults) hate your book is to make them analyze it. My job as a writer is to suck readers into my book, make them want to turn the page, and maybe—just maybe—think about it a little bit after they’re done. If I do that, then I’ve succeeded.
If you read enough of my books you’ll see that I have a definite message to send, but it’s a happy one: that we can make our dreams come true and live great lives if we band together and help each other.
That sums up what I think is the best part about writing romance, too: romance writers do band together and help each other out. That’s a far cry from stock traders and lawyers!
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side –
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Dark chocolate–70% or higher.
Ranger or Morelli
Ack – I can’t answer that question. I guess I know what series I’m reading next!