Joanne: Desere, thank you so much for inviting me as your author choice for this event! It means so much to have supportive readers and reviewers like you. Your generosity has helped me find a whole world of readers, and I’m very grateful. Here’s a short bio to get us started:
Joanne Kennedy celebrates Wyoming’s unique blend of past and present in contemporary Western novels with traditional ranch settings. Her books include Cowboy Crazy, Tall, Dark and Cowboy, Cowboy Fever, and the RITA nominated One Fine Cowboy. She lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming with two dogs and a fighter pilot. The dogs are relatively well-behaved.
Joanne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website, www.joannekennedybooks.com.
Desere: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Joanne: Cowboy Trouble was the first book I ever wrote. At the time, cowboys and Westerns weren’t popular at all. Agents and editors all told me that they liked my writing, but they just couldn’t sell a cowboy book.
So I tried my hand at paranormals, and my first try in that genre won me an agent. But about the time I signed on, cowboy romance took off! We brushed off Cowboy Trouble and sold it to Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks, which turned out to be a great decision. Deb is a great editor, and Sourcebooks got my career off to a wonderful start.
Desere: Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Joanne: Everything in the books has some basis in reality. Some of it is from my own experience, some from research, and some stolen from other people’s lives. I love talking to people who have experienced exciting things like bull riding and translating their experience onto the page. That was the best part of writing Cowboy Crazy – I got to spend a lot of time at the rodeo, soaking up the atmosphere and talking to rodeo cowboys. I’m very proud of the authenticity of the rodeo scenes in this book.
Desere: What do you do when you are not writing, do you perhaps have a day job?
Joanne: I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time, which is a real luxury. Up until a year ago, I worked with Barnes & Noble for fifteen years, and before that I worked in other bookstores as everything from manager to buyer to receiving clerk. So my life has always revolved around books, one way or another.
Desere: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author and what has been the best compliment?
Joanne: 99% of the criticism I’ve received has been helpful and constructive, but I did have one beta reader who insisted that virtually all my horse scenes in One Fine Cowboy were inaccurate. Since the scenes were taken directly from personal experience, I knew she was wrong—but I panicked, thinking maybe my experience had been so unusual that readers wouldn’t believe me. I spun my wheels for two full days, finding references to back up points I knew were correct, before I realized I needed to trust myself and my instincts—and be more careful of who I asked for advice.
The best compliment I’ve ever received was also for One Fine Cowboy. A woman wrote to tell me that her husband had passed away, and reading about Nate brought him back to her for a little while. It was a very touching note and meant a lot to me.
Desere: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Joanne: I learned to love Westerns from my dad’s old Zane Grey books. The classic Riders of the Purple Sage was my favorite. Not only is it romantic, with a bad-boy gunslinger hero, but it stars a very strong heroine who runs her own ranch—an unusual subject in 1912 when the book came out. It also has gorgeous descriptions of the plains that made me fall in love with the West.
Later, I ate up Louis L’Amour’s Westerns, which taught me a lot about storytelling. And now women have taken over, with great authors like Linda Lael Miller bringing the modern West to life.
Desere: Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Joanne: Yes! I’d like to say thank you , from the bottom of my heart, for letting my cowboys into your life. I love to write and feel so fortunate to lead the life I do. I have five books out now, and it still amazes me that there are people out there reading my stories. It really is a dream come true, and I promise I’ll never take it for granted!
“What was the first Western you ever read? And what is your favorite Western book or author?”
- The prize is a print copy of Cowboy Crazy.
- The contest is open to everyone, international readers included.
- You must answer Joanne’s question regarding the first western you read or your favorite one.
- Because a valid email is needed to comment in WordPress, if you are ineligible for the contest, but still want to comment, please leave some sort of “don’t enter me in the contest” note in your comment.
- While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
- The contest ends on Sunday, June 17.