Jen: Please help us welcome Shanna Hatfield to Romancing the Book. Shanna, will you share a short bio with us?
Shanna: Shanna Hatfield is a hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure. In addition to blogging, eating too much chocolate, and being smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller, she is a best-selling author of clean romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Shanna: Ilsa is my latest release and continues my current historical western series. Set in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon, the Pendleton Petticoats series highlights courageous women and men of strong character. The series begins in 1899, as Pendleton heads into a new century and an era as a booming, bustling city. During the early 1900s, Pendleton was a modern, progressive town, despite its Wild West reputation. In addition to 18 bordellos and 32 saloons, Pendleton offered residents such cultured experiences as an opera house, a French restaurant, and a tearoom. It was the second city in Oregon to have paved streets and boasted a telephone office as well as wonders like indoor plumbing and electricity to those who could afford the services. Being able to incorporate the history of the town into romance stories just seemed like a fun idea and it has been.
Excerpt from Aundy:
“You are one of the most stubborn, hard-headed women I’ve ever met, Aundy Erickson,” Garrett said, running a hand through his hair, sending the dark locks into a state of complete disarray. His movements made Aundy want to run her fingers through it as well. “Your ability to be self-sufficient would never come into question. If you need help, ask for it. We’re more than happy to give it. You’ve been through so much since you’ve arrived here and handled it all in stride. Growing up in the city, without any rural background, you’re going to need some help. Never hesitate to ask.”
“I know, but I’ve imposed on all of you too much as it is.” Aundy felt tears prick the backs of her eyes. She would not cry. Giving in to her emotions, as jumbled as they were, wouldn’t help prove she could care for herself and Erik’s farm. Her farm.
“You’ve never imposed on us. Ever.” Aundy was so obstinate. He couldn’t recall ever meeting such a stubborn, headstrong woman. She made him want to… Thinking about what he really wanted to do, he refocused his attention on why she went to the Underground. “Regardless of all that, what information were you hoping to find?”
“I wanted to buy something and no one would talk to me about it. Dressed as a man, I didn’t have a bit of trouble making the deal.”
“What did you buy?” Garrett tried to think of anything Aundy would have purchased in the Underground that could possibly be beneficial to the farm.
“I don’t think you’re going to like my answer.” Aundy didn’t want to tell Garrett about her sheep. He’d been quite vocal when she and J.B. were discussing the pros and cons of raising sheep the other day, about how much he disliked the “stinky little boogers,” as he referred to them.
“What did you do?” Garrett asked, pinning her with his silver gaze.
“I made arrangements with a man to buy something he wanted, quite desperately, to sell.”
Garrett’s patience was nearly exhausted. “Which was?”
She hesitated, taking a deep breath before answering. “Sheep.”
He let out a whoosh of air and sat back in his chair. Blinking his eyes twice, he was sure Aundy couldn’t have said what he thought she did.
“Did you say sheep?”
“Yes,” Aundy whispered, staring down at the cloth covering the table.
“Smelly, nasty, bleating little sheep?”
“Well, I don’t know about the smelly, nasty, or bleating part, but yes, I did agree to purchase sheep.”
“Woman! What are you thinking? Did you sign papers, make payment? Is the deal final?”
“Not yet. Mr. O’Connell was under the impression I was helping a new widow. I asked him to call Mrs. Erickson Monday morning to make arrangements for the sale.”
“O’Connell? The whiskey drinking Irishman? Why he’ll…” Garrett yelled, his eyes flashing fire.
Aundy reached across the table and clapped a hand across his mouth. “Shh. You’ll have Dent and the boys in here if you don’t quiet down. Not only should you not be here, especially with me dressed like this, but I’m not quite ready to impart the knowledge to them that we’ll soon be raising sheep.”
“Fred will quit.” Garrett stated a fact Aundy already knew. He’d made it perfectly clear that he had no interest in tending sheep, so it was a gamble she had to make.
“I’ve taken that possibility into consideration.”
“Did you also take into consideration that a lot of the neighbors around here hate sheep? Not just dislike them, but hate them. I know many people in the area raise sheep, but our neighbors are all wheat growers and cattlemen. If you think about it, there isn’t one little lamb to be found from here all the way to Pendleton.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Shanna: Easy, engaging, humorous.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Shanna: Any way I can! I jot down notes on anything remotely resembling a writing surface, or tap out notes to myself on my phone. I keep notepads in the car, my purse, and most rooms of the house so I usually have something to write on when an idea comes to me.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Shanna: I’d love for the book to be made into a movie! I’m big on visualizing and always find a “face” that represents my characters before I start writing. For this book, I think Jennifer Morrison makes a great Aundy while Josh Turner is my choice for Garrett. I do boards for each of my books on Pinterest, and pin all kinds of fun things that help in visualizing the story there.
Jen: How do you come up with character names?
Shanna: I like names that are memorable and different, so I search through baby name websites. If I know my character is of a certain origin or nationality, I try to find unique names that fit their personality. Aundy was a name I found on a website of old Norwegian names, which fits well, since her grandparents were Norwegian. I also try to find strong, masculine names for the hunky heroes in my stories. I think one of my favorite names is Kade Rawlings from Caterina, the second book in this series.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Shanna: In this series, I probably identify most with Aundy. Out of all the characters I’ve created, I’m probably most closely tied to Callan Matthews in Heart of Clay. My favorite character is Travis Thompson from The Cowboy’s Summer Love. He comes back from the service with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has so much to overcome. He’s a good guy who really struggles to get his life back to normal.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Shanna: I’m already working on the fourth book in the series, titled Marnie. After that, I’ll switch back to a contemporary romance, and I’ve also started a book detailing my actual experiences from growing up on a farm.
Jen: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Shanna: I love to hear from readers, so feel free to drop me a note via any of my social media links.
Thank you for hosting me today. I’m so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to connect with your readers.