Friday, December 17, 2010

Author Interview: Shirley Kennedy

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming author of the newly released historical romance, Heartbreak Trail, Shirley Kennedy. Shirley and I are practically family because we have the same agent and the same publisher!

Hello, Shirley, and thanks for stopping by. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Rhiannon, thanks for inviting me. I can divide my adult life into stages: 1) my housewife and mother stage wherein I raised two lovely daughters, 2) my career woman stage wherein I worked for twenty years as a computer programmer and system analyst, 3) my "don't quit your day job" stage wherein, overcome by a combination of job burnout and my passion for writing, I did exactly that and never looked back.

Now, happily single, I live in Las Vegas with my daughter and two cats. I write several hours a day and am not beyond taking an occasional break to enjoy a buffet at any one of many nearby casinos. Not a bad life indeed!

Heartbreak Trail was just released by Camel Press. What's the story about?

While reading diaries of the pioneer women who traveled west in covered wagons, I was struck by the fact that few, if any, really wanted to go. Lucy, my heroine, is one such woman. She's happy with her comfortable life in Massachusetts until her husband, hearing about the gold rush, sells the farm so they can head for California on a wagon train. My story is about Lucy's courage in the face of the dangers and hardships she encounters along the way.

Heartbreak Trail is a historical romance that takes place in the 1800s. What kind of research went into creating an authentic setting for this wagon-trail love story?

The women's diaries were a great source. Also, there are many books available concerning the Overland and Oregon trails. The book I used the most was Wagons West, the Epic Story of America's Overland Trails, by Frank McLynn. And of course I consulted Internet sites for everything from 19th century slang, to Indian tribes, to Bible quotations for every occasion.

I always imagined women like your heroine Lucy must have been very strong to endure the many hardships brought their way while traveling by covered wagon for months on end. How difficult do you think it was for the real pioneer women? And what joys do you think they experienced that only those on the wagon trail could?

In my book I have attempted to describe both joys and sorrows. On her way to California, Lucy encounters raging rivers that must be crossed, buffalo stampedes, an Indian attack, deadly diseases, childbirth tragedies and more. On the other hand, she gains inner strength and a new appreciation of the beauty of the Old West: "astonishing sightings of tens of thousands of galloping buffalo; pristine lakes, streams, and forests never seen or touched by a white man; the mightsnow-capped peaks of the great mountain ranges; the edge of the continent where giant waves of the Pacific crash against the rocky shore."

I noticed on your website that you've also written Regency romance. Have you ever considered writing contemporary or paranormal romance, or does your heart belong to historical?

Almost but not quite. It just so happens I have two completed novels waiting to be sold. One, a contemporary Paranormal Romance, involves a haunted casino in Las Vegas. The other is a larger Regency. I used to write the small "traditional" Regencies, but the big publishers don't publish them anymore. So my latest Regency Romance has more pages and more, shall we say, "steamy" love scenes that were ever required in those sweet little Regencies.

Do you have any other books coming out in the near future? If so, when can we expect your next one?

I plan to write another western romance. I have a working title, Wagon Train Cinderella, which is either a great title or the worst title on the planet, I haven't decided which yet.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Before you go, where can readers/writers find you and your work online?

Heartbreak Trail has been published in several formats. Find it in print or e-book, including Kindle. It's on, Kindle, Smashwords, and more.

You can find all places it's sold at

Or I list them at my website,

Thanks! It was a pleasure.

Thanks for stopping by, Shirley. Be sure to check out Shirley's website and read more about Heartbreak Trail.

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