Monday, February 25, 2013

Interview with Joanne Kennedy Author of Cowboy Tough

 Romance Book Junkies Interview – Joanne Kennedy, Cowboy Tough

I know you get asked this question over and over but can you tell us a little about yourself? Maybe something juicy. ;)
Joanne: How ‘bout if I just juice up my real biography? Let’s see: After a long career as an international spy, I was forced to flee the Eastern U.S. for the well-known outlaw outpost of Billings, Montana. There, I began work  for The Bookstore Chain Which Shall Not Be Named. I managed to keep my cover there for many years, moving in the dead of night whenever my past caught up with me. Finally, I found myself in Cheyenne, Wyoming—a perfect hideout, since all you have to do is slap a cowboy hat on your head and you blend right in. I’ve been there ever since, posing as a mild-mannered romance novelist. Shhh…don’t tell!

When did you first start writing? Are you a full time author or do you do it on the side?
 Joanne: I didn’t start writing until I was 45 and realized that if I put the puzzle pieces of my life together, this was what I was supposed to do. I’d read so much (during all those lonely undercover stake-outs) that the rhythms and conventions of writing came fairly easily, and since I’d worked in the book business so long I had an understanding of what readers are looking for. Now, I’m lucky enough to be a full-time author.

Do you have an author that has really inspired you?
Joanne: I’m really inspired by Carolyn Brown, a dear friend and fellow Sourcebooks writer. When I first started writing for Sourcebooks, I was overwhelmed with all the work that goes into making a book a success. Carolyn came to my rescue. She didn’t just show me how to do it; she showed me how to do it with humor, high energy, and boundless enthusiasm. She is a great example of how hard work, perseverance, and a generous dose of insanity can build a great career.

How long does it normally take you to write an average book or your last book?
Joanne: I normally write two books a year. It takes me about four months to write the first draft, and then two months to edit it. I’m going to be a little slower with the next book, because I had to undergo treatment for breast cancer, which was not fun. But I’m doing fine, and Here Comes Trouble, the first volume in my new series, The Cowboys of Decker Ranch, will be out in April 2014.

What do you think makes a story great?
Joanne: I want to create believable characters readers can relate to. I want your spirit to soar as you watch them struggle and succeed. And when you put down the book, I want you to feel better and stronger—as if anything is possible in your own life.

I also think every book should have an “aha” moment—a point where the events of the story suddenly make sense and everything clicks to give you a new understanding of how the world works.

Can you describe your book Cowboy Tough in one sentence?
Joanne: A talented artist leading  painting expeditions on a Wyoming dude ranch clashes with a cowboy who wants to show her there’s more to life than pretty pictures.

Tell us a little about Cowboy Tough.
Joanne: Mack Boyd, the hero of Cowboy Tough, is one of my favorite cowboys. He’d like to be a footloose rodeo cowboy, but his loyalty to his family calls him back to the home ranch, where he reluctantly helps his mother turn their rough-and-tumble cattle operation into a dude ranch for city tourists.

When he meets the leader of an art expedition into the ranch’s backcountry, she strikes him as all sparkle and no substance. He knows there’s no way a woman like that will fit into his life—so why is he so irresistibly attracted to her?

Have you done lots of research for your books or do the stories just come to you?
Joanne: My life is my research! I mean, I haven’t romanced six different cowboys, or lived the complicated lives of my heroines. But I gather little bits of real life everywhere I go, stashing them away like treasures, and drop them into my books whenever I can.

Cowboy Tough was fun to write because it brought together two of my passions – painting and cowboys! I love art almost as much as I love writing, so the book grew out of my experiences as an amateur artist as well as my experiences with horses and the West.

What are you currently working on?
Joanne: I’m working on the Here Comes Trouble, first book in what is my first series, as all my previous books are stand-alones. It’s called The Cowboys of Decker Ranch, and it’s about three boys who were adopted as foster children by the same rancher. Although he taught them about love and loyalty as well as roping and riding, trust doesn’t come easily to these guys when it comes to women.

Can you tell us about some of your prior achievements?
Joanne: When I look back on my writing career, I’m very proud of the books I’ve produced. To me, you’ve really achieved something when you get a note from a reader saying your book gave them the courage they needed to let love into their lives, or that you carried a woman who’s been married sixty years back to the day she fell in love with her husband. When your stories become part of the fabric of people’s lives—that’s when you’ve accomplished something as a writer.

Is there anything that I didn't cover that you would like to talk about or say to your potential readers?
Joanne: Just thank you, in great big capital letters with cherries on top. I love my work so much, and readers make it possible for me to sit at my computer all day and spill out my fantasy lives—with a lot of help from blogger/reviewers like yourself, who help them wade through the billions of books out there and find the ones that are right for them!

Just for fun:
Hardback or Paperback?
Joanne: Paperback. Books are for reading, so I want the easiest format to hold! But I love having my keepers in hardback.

Dog ears or Bookmarks?
Joanne: Bookmarks. Books deserve respect! But I’ve been known to break the spine on those paperbacks as I get absorbed in the story.

YA novels or Adult novels?
Joanne: Both! That’s what I loved about writing Cowboy Tough—it has teenaged characters as well as grown-ups, and I love seeing the world through their eyes.

Library or Bookstore?
Joanne: Bookstore. Now more than ever, they need our support. But I’m glad libraries are there for those who can’t afford to buy.

Reading glasses or No glasses?
Joanne: No glasses, but I hold the book two inches from my nose.

Snack while reading or No snacks?
Joanne: Snacks.  Not limited to while reading.

Beach or Mountain?
Joanne: Mountain.

Vampire or Werewolf?
Joanne: Werewolf. I like to cuddle.

Hot or Flirty?
Joanne: Can I say hot flirtiness? I think the sexual tension leading up to the main event can be the hottest part!

Movie 1st or Book 1st?
Joanne: Book. Always the book.

Contemporary or Historical?
Joanne: Writing: Contemporary. Reading: Both.

Page-Turner or Tear Jerker?
Joanne: Both! Every book should be a page-turner, so readers can get to the tear-jerking parts:)

She’s hardly a cowgirl…
Cat Crandall left a successful advertising job in New York to teach art workshops in the wild west.  The Boyd Ranch is hardly her dream destination, but if the outing’s a success, the company will send her to more exotic locations.

But once a cowboy…
Mack Boyd was in the middle of the best bronc-riding season of his life when his mother asked for help with an artists’ retreat at the ranch.  Mack might be able to ride a wild stallion to a standstill but he can’t say no to his family.

Cat and Mack are complete opposites…but when the ranch is threatened financially, can they set aside their differences and work together?

Joanne Kennedy’s lifelong fascination with Wyoming’s unique blend of past and present inspires her to write contemporary Western romances with traditional ranch settings. In 2010 she was nominated for a RITA award for One Fine Cowboy. At various times, Joanne has dabbled in horse training, chicken farming, and bridezilla wrangling at a department store wedding registry. Her fascination with literature led to careers in bookselling and writing. She lives with two dogs and a retired fighter pilot in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information, please visit and on Facebook.

To Purchase Cowboy Tough


Joanne Kennedy said...

Hello, and thanks for the great interview. I'm counting on all of you to keep the secret about my nefarious past:) Meanwhile, if you have any other questions, pop them into a comment and I'll do my best to answer! I'll be checking back for the next few days.

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