Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I suppose a little of me creeps into each of the heroines I write, but I try to vary the personalities/character types so nobody sounds or acts just like me. I’ve fallen in love with a book on writing characters called The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines. I love the way this book shows the interaction of character types and gives examples from TV and movies. By mixing up these character-traits, I can hopefully keep my characters from being too much like me—or each other.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I have so many quirks, it’s hard to pick out just one, so I’ll give you three of the many.
--One time when I was in kindergarten while walking home from school, I tried to see how slowly I could walk without falling over. (Yes, really, stop laughing!) I was really, really late getting home from school and my mom came looking for me. I was in soooo much trouble.
--I also scalp my pizza. I eat all the toppings off the crust and eat the crust separately. No clue why, it just tastes good that way.
--My family and I have been to 16 historical sites/museums run by the MN Historical Society. My goal is to eventually visit them all. I think I have four or five left to see.
--Oh, and bonus quirk: I don’t like seafood. At all. Nothing From The Sea is my motto.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I think the seeds were there for a long time. I have a post over on Seekerville where I followed the trail of becoming a writer from my kindergarten days onward. I’ve always loved reading, story-weaving, and daydreaming. Couple those things with my love of words, history, and happy endings, and it was a natural progression to historical romance writer.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read a lot of different things. Mysteries, history books, thrillers, historical romances, biographies, memoirs. I love Dick Francis, Tom Clancy, Elizabeth Peters, Sarah Graves, Mary Connealy, James Herriot, Essie Summers, Zane Grey, and so many more.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’m busier now than I’ve ever been, but I keep my sanity the same way I always have. Retreating into my fictional worlds. I have to have this downtime…when it looks like I’m not doing anything at all…in order to recharge the creative batteries and to prepare to write. On a side note, I do have to pull back on other things I’m involved with, say no to some good things in order to pursue writing fiction. I’ve learned I can’t do it all, so I have to be careful what I say yes to.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
There are several things I take into consideration when choosing character names. Ethnic background, historical setting, economic background, connotations, and what exceptions can I make to these rules. The era in history that I’m writing has a lot to do with the names I choose, as well as the economic status of the characters. My first series was set in the Gilded Age amongst the upper elite. The names were more elaborate. My second series was set in
territory and the names were more rugged or plain. I consider the ethnic
background of the characters as well. Are they Scots, Norwegian, German, Irish?
Here in Idaho
we have a lot of Scandinavian and German names. A name like Jukka Thoreson
wouldn’t be out of place in a MN historical. I also try to choose names that
fit the type of character I’m creating. I want the name to evoke a certain idea
in the character’s mind even before they get to know the character. My current
Work in Progress has a hero named Gareth, (like Sir Gareth of the Round Table)
and I hope this evokes ideas of a knight in shining armor, someone steeped in
chivalry, and willing to risk his life for a damsel in distress. Minnesota
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
The writing accomplishment I’m most proud of to date is receiving so many honors in the 18th Annual Heartsong Awards this past spring. The readers were so kind to me, and it was wonderful to see my books were enjoyed by so many people.
The non-writing accomplishment I’m the most proud of is my family. My husband and I have been happily married for 21 years now and we have two great kids.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I wouldn’t mind being a panda. They are adorable and rare and cherished. Oh, and they’re supposed to be round all over, which I kinda am. J
What is your favorite food?
My current go-to food is taco salad at Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurant. I order it every time I go there.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Showing vs. telling was a hard one for me to get my head around. I thought I knew what it meant, but even now I’m discovering new ways to show instead of tell. As to overcoming it, critique partners helped a lot, as did reading books by masters of showing vs. telling. Some writers are very, very good at this technique and I always learn new things by reading their work.
Tell us about the featured book.
The Queen of the Cow Towns is the setting for a rollicking romantic mystery.
When Addie Reid isn’t focused on the world she sees through the lens of her camera, she’s looking over her shoulder. But it isn’t her past that’s caught up with her. Unwittingly in possession of a clue that will expose a killer, Addie must join forces with Miles to solve the crime. As their relationship develops, a portrait of the killer emerges.
I’m totally intrigued. Please give us the first page of the book.
Uncle Carl had taught her that the customer should be accommodated no matter what, but surely there were limitations. Addie Reid pressed her fingertips against her temple. “You want to do what?”
“I want my picture made with my horse.”
“Sir, this isn’t a livery stable. I do serious portraiture.”
The cowboy—so prototypical of the breed as to be comical with his wide hat, sunburned face, and bat-wing chaps—waved a scrap of newsprint in her face. “Read this here ad. It says ‘Come to Reid’s Photography to get your portrait taken with your trail pards and best friends.’ This is your ad, ain’t it? You are Reid’s Photography?”
A small pang twisted Addie’s heart. She was now. What if I can’t do this alone?
“Yes, that’s my advertisement, and this is Reid’s Photography.”
“Good. Then I want my picture made with my trail pard and best friend. I’ve got good, cash money. Trail boss paid us off an hour ago. I got spiffed up down at the barbershop and headed right here.”
“But sir, a horse? The advertisement is intended for humans.”
“That horse”—he pointed through the open door to a dusty animal dozing in the sun on
Front Street—“is the best friend and
trail pard I’ve ever had. He’s smart and gentle and has forgotten more about
cow work than I’ll ever know.”
Which was either an accolade for the horse or an insult to the cowboy. She blew out a breath. “I can’t haul the camera out into the street.” Though she wouldn’t risk moving the Chevalier for a simple portrait, perhaps she could use her smaller Scovill. Though the print would be smaller, too.
“I don’t want no outside picture. I want it taken in the studio with one of those fancy backdrops. And I want the picture to be about this big”—he held up his hands about a foot apart—“so it will look good in a frame on the wall.”
That ruled out the Scovill. A print that size would need the bigger camera. Her mind trotted back to what he’d said, and her jaw dropped. “You intend to bring a horse inside?” Jamming her hands on her hips, she shook her head. “No. Impossible. I’ll take your picture, and it will be a good one, but the animal stays outside.”
He tugged the corner of his enormous moustache. “I reckoned as much. No gumption. Should’ve known better than to come to a woman photographer. A man would understand. Guess I’ll go over to Donaldson’s. He offered to do it for me, but I wanted to give you a try at it first, since you’re new in town and all. He said you’d be too timid.”
Stung, Addie straightened. “Wait. Don’t go.” Donaldson’s Photography three blocks down would be her biggest competitor, and Heber Donaldson had been the most vocal about the new photography shop on
stealing his customers. “We can work something out.” But it would have to be
worth her while. She hesitated then quoted him a price.
The cowboy grinned. “That sounds fine to me.”
This book just jumped to the top of my to-be-read pile. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I blog at: http://onthewritepath.blogspot.com/
You can find me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/erica.vetsch
And Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/EricaVetschAnd on the web at: http://webpages.charter.net/ericavetsch/home.html
Thank you, Erica, for the fun interview.
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A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas
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