Top 5 List: Winter Austin

Winter Austin perpetually answers the question “were you born in the winter?” with a flat “nope.” Living in the middle of Nowheresville, Iowa, with her husband, four teenagers, and two crazy dogs, Winter is trying to juggle a career in the agricultural industry while writing deadly romantic thrillers.

Find Winter Austin at, on Facebook, and on Twitter @WinterAustin


As with the previous two novels in the McIntire county series, Sins of the Father has long been percolating in my brain. In all honesty, Xavier Hartmann being an Aussie can stem way, way back to my love the Australian film Man From Snowy River. Ya’ll have my dad to thank for me falling in love with that movie, and its Disney squeal, Return to Snowy River. (I still cry every time I watch that movie, even if it’s the 100th time.)

Anyway, Xavier and Jolie, our two main characters in Sins, are like night and day. Yeah, I know—cliché. But it’s true. She’s the good girl trying to remain good in everyone’s eyes, and it’s hard when you’re the former beloved sheriff’s daughter. Enter Xavier, a disabled, scarred, secretive veteran who gets himself all tangled up in a murder in the worst kind of way—being caught by the rookie deputy with the body and blood on his hands and no memory of what happened. Xavier is rough and brash, where Jolie is almost innocent and naive, but at her core hides a tough woman ready to come out and take charge.

I enjoyed writing this book and getting to play around with some subject matter that has only recently become more of an ‘in-your-face’ issue with veterans: traumatic brain injuries. Jolie was also a different kind of heroine for me to write because she wasn’t the tough-as-nails type like Nic or Cassy from the previous books, and it was interesting to see her growth.

I’m in the early stages of writing book four in the series, which as of yet doesn’t have a solid title. This is Sheriff Shane Hamilton’s book, and a secondary character from an earlier novel is making a return in this one.

Top 5 Influential Authors

Every author has someone who influences them. Here are some of my all-time favorites who have led me down this scary path to publication and authorhood.

  1. Sherrilyn Kenyon — Author of the Dark Hunter/League series I truly adore, she’s been an inspiration as far as never giving up and finding a way to make a career out of being an author. She’s devoted to her fans and her writing, and no subject matter is off-limits to her. If you’re a fan of paranormal/fantasy romances, she’s the one.
  1. John Jakes — The North and South trilogy came out while I was growing up then the TV mini-series hit and it just exploded. I love anything to do with American Civil War or history, especially if it pertains to the Old West, and John Jakes hit all of it at a time in my young life. I can’t recall now where my own copies of those books ever went—too many moves in my married life to recall—but the stories have stayed with me a long time. Jakes’s writing style isn’t a popular one now, but an author can learn from his sweeping details and strong characters.
  1. Louis L’Amour — Back in my Old West kick as a teen, Louis L’Amour was hot on my shelves. I think my favorite books of his tended to be the ones where the females led the story and outshone the men leads, but his Sacketts books carried more depth and richness, right alongside many of his standalones. My favorite standalone, The Haunted Mesa, wasn’t a true western. Sci-fi all the way, baby.
  1. Dick Francis — What horse-loving person hasn’t read a Dick Francis book? You haven’t? Well, why not? Dick Francis was able to combine several great loves for me: mystery, suspense, horses, and great storytelling. The great British author wrote about horse racing in all its widespread aspects. Other than his Sid Hadley books, Dick Francis had a different character with a different career in each of his novels, but they all revolved around steeplechasing and horse racing. It was amazing to find a new story with each book. And his son, Felix, has continued the tradition.
  1. Walter Farley — The Black Stallion was the first chapter novel I read in grade school from front to back, and wished there was more. Lo and behold, there was! Walter Farley’s great Black galloped his way into my heart and cemented a desire in me that has never been snuffed out: to be an author. When I’m asked who my all-time favorite author is, Walter Farley is the answer I give, every time.