Interview & Contest: Brenda Gayle

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Jen: Please help us welcome Brenda Gayle to Romancing the Book as part of her Doubting Heart Blog Tour. Brenda, will you share a short bio with us?
Brenda: Thanks so much for inviting me to visit with you today. I’ve been a writer all my life but returned to my love of fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communications—although some might argue there is plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. I have a Master’s degree in journalism and an undergraduate degree in psychology. Although I am a fan of many genres, I find myself drawn to contemporary romance and enjoy creating deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense.

I live in eastern Ontario (Canada) with my wonderful husband, two fabulous children, a rescued cat, two Siberian Huskies, and assorted aquatic wildlife.

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Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Brenda_Gayle_2012Brenda: My current release is The Doubting Heart. It is the second book in my Heart’s Desire series, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of three cousins as they manipulate the minefield of family expectation to find love and happiness.

The Doubting Heart was originally called Wildhorse Pass, and the title came to me when I misread a sign while driving along a highway on the Bruce Peninsula, in Ontario. I thought “hey, that’s a neat name for a place,” and started to wonder about what type of place it would be and what would go on there. I don’t know what sort of mood I was in but I kept thinking about doubting your senses and mistaken identity, and slowly a plot formed. I changed the title when I realized the overarching story was bigger than one book. So, although The Doubting Heart was written first, it actually became the second in the series.

Here’s the blurb:

When Shelby Holt convinces a friend to work at Wildhorse Pass tourist ranch, she never imagines he will die there. The police say Michael’s death was accidental, but Shelby doesn’t believe it. Haunted by guilt, she puts her academic career on hold to investigate.

Just back from the Middle East, Chad Graham is guilt-ridden over Michael’s death too. He poses as a ranch hand at Wildhorse Pass to investigate the woman claiming his cousin’s death is suspicious. Were the police wrong? Or is Shelby hiding something?

Shelby knows she can’t trust her heart, but when it comes to Chad, she can’t trust her head either. He looks uncannily like Michael. Yet even as their distrust deepens, sensual attraction simmers between them. The closer Shelby and Chad get to answers—and to each other—the closer they get to danger…and to a killer who will stop at nothing to avoid discovery.

Jen: What age did you discover writing?  Tell us your call story.
Brenda: I don’t remember ever not being a “writer.” One of my favorite activities growing up was writing short stories. A girlfriend and I used to take a first sentence and then go off and write a short story. I was always amazed at how different they ended up. My high school English teacher, Mrs. MacGregor (to whom The Doubting Heart is dedicated), was very encouraging of my writing, and for that I owe her my deepest gratitude. My first publication credit came when I was 14. My city’s newspaper published a half-page article I had written about our high school’s band trip to the Yukon. After receiving a graduate degree in Journalism I worked for almost 20 years in corporate communications before my creative muse had had enough of annual reports and speeches, and insisted I return to my love of writing fiction. My first romantic suspense, Soldier for Love, was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2008.

Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Brenda: I’m a bit of both. When I start a book I generally have an idea of where I want the story to go and some key events that need to happen along the way, however, it’s far from fully plotted. I generally allow the characters to drive the story, so I usually only know in detail what’s going to happen a few chapters ahead. Usually this works well for me, but every once in a while the characters take the story off in a totally unexpected direction messing up the original plot path.

Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Brenda: Oh my, you should see the scraps of paper all over my house. Perhaps it’s my journalism background, but I never go anywhere without a pen and paper. After a few near melt-downs, my family has gotten very good at never throwing away what appears to be random bits of paper covered with illegible scribbles. They know it’s likely my latest brain wave and I’ll be looking for it some time.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Brenda: Most of my research came via the Internet, books, and talking to people. I’ve been to Nevada and Arizona; New Mexico is a place I’d love to visit some time. The first paragraph of The Doubting Heart is very close to something I experienced while traveling through Arizona a number of years ago. It had been a very wet winter and I was stunned by the beauty of the flowering cacti.

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Brenda: I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I think there are bits of me in all my heroines. Nora, from The Hungry Heart, was a burned-out association executive, and although she was modeled on a former boss of mine, I share many of the same attitudes and beliefs. Shelby, the heroine of The Doubting Heart, was a difficult character for me to write—probably because her desire to please hit a little too close to home. However, I think Anna, from the upcoming The Forsaken Heart, is probably as close to my personality as any other character I’ve written—except I think she’s more fun. She shares a lot of the irreverent personality traits of her cousin Hunter, the hero of The Hungry Heart and my all-time favorite character (so far).

Jen: What’s next for you?
Brenda: At the moment, I am finishing the third book in the Heart’s Desire series, tentatively titled The Forsaken Heart. This concludes the original story arc and wraps up a bunch of loose ends from The Hungry Heart and The Doubting Heart. My working blurb is: When Anna Graham marries Callum Hart she’ll finally receive her uncles’ agreement to take over the family ranch. Will the return of Jackson, her first love—and Cal’s brother—throw it all in jeopardy? I am also exploring storylines for other characters in the books, so look for more in this series.

Thanks to Romancing the Book for hosting me today. I’d love to know what characters appeal to you. Do you have a favorite, one you identify with or one you wish you could be more like? One commenter will be randomly selected to receive a free digital download of my new short story, Father of the Bride?, the first in The Wild Rose Press’s Dearly Beloved series. In addition, every time you comment at one of the stops on my virtual book tour you’ll get another entry to win a $50 Amazon gift card.  Be sure to include your email address in your comment.


54 thoughts on “Interview & Contest: Brenda Gayle

  1. Anastasia K says:

    Good question, I like characters who are interesting, they don’t have to be like me or like someone I want to be, but they should have something why I would like to get to know and follow their adventure.

    Moonsurfer123 (at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Thanks for the interview 🙂 I’m not usually into western sounding books but The Doubting Heart sounds cute and interesting with a hint of the mystery I love 🙂

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

  3. Lydia Klein says:

    Oh, well, it depends on the character, I don’t think I have a special type, but in general I prefer a likable character, also I’ve read a mystery and one of the character had a drug addiction, which played a big role and while I honestly don’t judge, it was a bit hard to connect with him. It’s not that characters shouldn’t have issues or weaknesses, I prefer them not to be perfect, that’s not realistic but it depends how the issues are worked into the story and if they are the main characteristics.


    • I agree, Lydia. I recently read a book with a very young (and promiscuous) heroine. I don’t think I’m an old fuddie-duddie (or maybe I am), but I found it hard to relate to her–she seemed a bit of a flake and I didn’t particularly enjoy the story as a result.

  4. Rita Wray says:

    I like characters who are kind and caring and yes that is the way I try to live my life.


  5. Lana A says:

    I usually like the male hero to be brave and a gentleman but really it depends of the story, I like a lovable character 🙂


  6. Jess1 says:

    I like characters that are strong, caring and flawed so that we can see growth in them and so they’re more realistic and interesting.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

  7. Emma says:

    I like a strong heroine, not always but I don’t like it if she cries all the time and just depends on the guy to save her, some backbone is nice. Also I’m same as you, I could relate to a flake heroine who just sleeps around.


    • Here, here, Emma. In The Forsaken Heart, I deliberately made my heroine unable to cry–never realized how much of a writing crutch those teary eyes were until I couldn’t use them to convey strong emotions.

  8. Jibriel.O says:

    Mhm, yes I think I’m more forgiving with the heroine, I like kind and caring characters as well, but not total naive ones, who are to trusting and are taken advantage of.

    jibriel.o at web dot de

  9. Marcy Shuler says:

    I really enjoyed THE HUNGRY HEART and Shelby’s story also sounds good. Looking forward to reading it and am glad to hear book #3 should be out by the end of this year.


  10. Ami K. says:

    Well of course I identify with the heroine, but I got tired of the damsel in distress, who is waiting to be saved. I still like to have strong male hero, I just want the female have some backbone.

    shadowrunner 1987ATgmailDOTcom

  11. Norma says:

    who doesn’t love a love story, especially with a mystery wrapped up in an enigma. You sort of telegraph your intentions with this blurb. Hope it turns out well for me. Later.

  12. erinf1 says:

    Congrats to Brenda on the new release! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I think I look for characters that can make me care for them despite their flaws and root for them to get their HEA. I want to lose myself in their story 🙂

  13. Catherine says:

    You have “assorted aquatic wildlife”? What kind of wildlife? The characters I like are strong, sassy, smart.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    • Hi Catherine, at the moment our “assorted aquatic wildlife” consists solely of a variety of freshwater fish. In the past, we have had shrimp and frogs. My son has been lobbying hard for a lizard. The lizards I don’t mind, its just the insects you have to feed them. I have visions of crickets escaping and running rampant through my house.

      • Catherine says:

        I wouldn’t want lizards! Frogs & turtles would be good. We currently have koi and my hubby wants to build a BIGGER pond for them!

        • Sounds lovely. I’d love to have koi, but I think the huskies would love them, too. They already do a great job of keeping the groundhogs and other vermin out of our yard. Just imagine if they had their own fishing hole!

  14. Chelsea B. says:

    I like characters who are strong, can stand on they’re on, but are better together. Ladies who are sassy, smart, and independent– and men who not only put up with it, but love it 😉


  15. Mary Preston says:

    It makes a lot of sense for a writer to have pen & paper handy at all times. You never know what will come up.


  16. Leanna H says:

    I don’t have a specific type of hero that I like. They can be someone like me or someone the complete opposite. The author just needs to do a good job at msking the character someone you want to read about.

  17. JoAnne says:

    Strong characters appeal to me but also if they have close ties to their family and community. They have to have a caring side as well.
    Thanks for sharing.

    jbcweiss AT sbcglobal DOT net

  18. Carrie says:

    I don’t like a wishy-wash character. Some “doubt” is okay but if they can never make a TRUE decisive choice I just dismiss them 🙂

    carrie dot rogozinski at

  19. Thanks to Romancing the Book for hosting me on my blog tour for The Doubting Heart and to everyone who commented—you made this fun. I’ve used to generate the winner of my new short story, Father of the Bride? The winner is Enna. I’ll be in touch with the download instructions.

    You can find who all the winners are, including the grand prize winner of a $50 Amazon gift card, on my web site:

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