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Interview with Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies with cowboys for Bethany House Publishing. She is a bestselling author, a Rita and Christy Awards finalist, and a two-time winner of the Carol Award. She is the author of over twenty books including multiple series such as Trouble in Texas, Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, Sophie's Daughters and many other books.

Fired Up is the second book in your Trouble in Texas series. How are the books in this series connected?
I got the idea for writing The Trouble in Texas Series while researching Andersonville Prison, a terrible prison camp during the Civil War. I just found the place so awful and there were these men, Union Soldiers, who were called Regulators. They were given the job of keeping peace inside the prison, so they were watching over the other Union Soldiers, some of whom were grateful but others considered them traitors working for the Confederacy. So I got to wondering what kind of bond that would create between those men. I began the book with Luke Stone, who came home from the war to find his ranch stolen, his sister missing and his father killed. He wants justice. And his Regulator friends: Dare Riker a man who learned doctoring in Andersonville and whose main two skills were amputation and throwing a blanket over a man's head after he died. Vince Yates, who calls himself a lawyer because he got trapped in a cabin in the mountains one winter with a nearly complete edition of Blackstone's Commentaries on the Law of England…he's not a great lawyer but they live in a tiny town in Indian Territory with a bunch of outcasts. No one needs a lawyer much. And Parson Jonas Cahill, who rode the outlaw trail as a young man but found God on a Civil War Battle Field and has come at God's leading, and now finds himself the voice of reason (and still a mighty handy man with a gun) when his friends face trouble.

Fired Up is Dare Riker's story. We met him in Swept Away and now it's Dare's turn to find love. Well, he finds it right away, but the murder attempts are distracting him from courting.

Many of your main characters are first introduced in other books. Have we met Dare Riker and Glynna Greer prior to appearing in Fired Up?
Dare spends book #1 fighting at Luke Stone's side against the man who killed his father and stole his ranch, Flint Greer. Part of that fight is rescuing Flint's wife, Glynna from the brute she married as a mail order bride. Dare shot Flint, with some help from his friends. Though Glynna is well rid of him, that is still a strange way to get himself a girlfriend. Add to that, Glynna's son is determined his mother will never marry again—in fact, the half-grown boy is carrying so much anger around that it's possible he's behind the rash of attacks on Dare.

Add to that, Glynna is busy running her diner….which means she's feeding badly cooked food to the men of Broken Wheel, Texas three times a day and when she solves her problem by hiring a cook, the woman might be mad as a rabid swamp rat, a woman who's attacked Dare before.

There's hardly time for love.

Why set your stories in Texas?
When you're writing Westerns, setting it in Texas is so obvious I almost have to fight the impulse. So I've had the last few series set elsewhere and I felt like I'd done my duty to the rest of the frontier and could come home to Texas for a while.

Did you ever try to rewrite and submit your first story – the one you wrote as a twelve-year-old?
No. I have no idea what it was even about except it was a romance novel. I shudder to think what a twelve year old knows about romance.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
My biggest challenge is doing anything except writing. It's the rest of my responsibilities that suffer because writing is my default activity. In fact there is ample proof I fail all the time. I am most definitely UNBALANCED. (I believe there is paperwork to that effect on file with the County Sheriff....)

Have you written the story of your heart yet?
Honestly, this will sound weird to you, but the closest I've come to really writing a 'story of my heart' is The Bossy Bridegroom, a short contemporary romance about an estranged married couple trying to heal their relationship after they separate and each find God. He's an emotional abuser but with God in his life he's determined to reconcile with his wife and be a good husband. Except once they're back together, he begins to fall back into his old habits.

Yeah, not my usual thing and not your usual Heartsong Presents. Not real funny either. But I think it's a good book with a great message…for the right person. Mostly, my focus when I'm writing is just to write the most entertaining book I know how to write. That's my goal. And if I accidentally put some powerful message in there, well, no one's more surprised than me.

Do you act out action scenes in your barn or corral to see if they’re plausible? If you do, do you employ your Cowboy as the hero?
I don't really. The closest I've come to that was for Sharpshooter in Petticoats. My Cowboy Husband let me play around with his rifle to see if the way I had in mind to get the rifle into action fast would work. (He very carefully unloaded it first!)

Which of your characters do you most resemble?
You know, I don't really think I resemble my characters. I think I write characters they way I wish I were. Very brave. Saying every thought that comes into their heads. Facing people, confronting them, backing them down.

I'm not like that. I'm pathologically non-confrontational. And a chronic apologizer (and I'm really sorry about that).

But really I think my way is probably better. Mostly I'm a peacekeeper in my family She-Who-Spread-Oil-On-Troubled-Waters And that's probably a better way to live than my tough Texas Cowgirls who are ready to take on all comers.

Any parting words?
Thanks for having me, Anita Mae.

Find me online at:
Petticoats & Pistols
My Blog
My Website
My Newsletter

Thanks for sharing with us, Mary!

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