Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Welcome to the Jesse Hayworth's World!

Hi Jesse!  Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today!  I read SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE and was so hooked from the first page that I immediately had to read WINTER AT MUSTANG RIDGE.  Now I’m waiting…not all that patiently… for HARVEST AT MUSTANG RIDGE.  You have created a fantastic series with wonderful characters and a super setting. 

Ohmigosh, you just made my day! Thanks so much. (Does little happy dance and a Sally Fields squee of “She likes me! She really likes me!”) 

So are readers can find out a bit more about the woman behind the pen, let’s start with a few simple questions. 

SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE is, I believe your debut novel.  How did it feel when you got the call?  What did you do to celebrate?

Confession time … Summer at Mustang Ridge was Jesse Hayworth’s debut novel, but in my other life, I write romantic suspense and paranormal romances as Jessica Andersen. Still, I definitely had that getting-the-call moment with the Mustang Ridge books, because moving into writing contemporary Westerns was a real change for me, on many levels.

You see, over the course of about a year, I got out of a long-term (and more toxic than I realized until I was out of it) relationship, re-learned how to love myself, and (cue lightning bolt) met a guy named Arizona who also thought I was pretty great. He’s my soulmate, my life partner, the kind of guy I write about other people meeting ... We got married almost seven months to the day after we met, and suddenly I didn’t want to write about apocalypses or serial killers anymore. I wanted to write fun stories about family and falling in love. Sure, there are tough themes to the Mustang Ridge books—as there are in life—but they’re the kind of things that normal people deal with on a daily basis rather than magical amulets and Mayan demons.

So when I turned in the idea for the Mustang Ridge books, I sweated, hard. And when my editor called to say YES, I’ll admit it. I babbled just about as hard as I did back in 2002 when a Harlequin editor called to buy my first Intrigue. And then Arizona and I went out to dinner, toasted the Skye family and their dude ranch romances, and … well … we celebrated the way relative newlyweds do. (Wink.)

What inspired you to pick up the pen (or sit down at the computer) one day and create characters that capture the imagination?

I started writing as an antidote to writing my PhD thesis in genetics. When my advisor read my actual thesis, she said, “That was marvelous. It was like a mystery novel! Will Jessica discover the gene for pigmentary glaucoma? Turn the page to find out!” When I admitted that I was writing a suspense novel in my spare time, she told me to send her an autographed copy when I got it published. I eventually did get it published, and I most definitely sent her a signed copy.

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this?

Being an author can be glamorous--I’ve been interviewed on TV and been hustled by security guards through back corridors of hotels and bookstores when the crowds get too thick. But being a writer is entirely unglamorous, stinking hard work that involves lots of caffeine and banging my head against the nearest solid object when the words won’t behave. Which isn’t to say “woe is me, I’ve got it so hard” ... But it’s most definitely a job rather than a super fun thing that just happens to pay the bills.

What is the most glamorous thing you’ve done as an author?

A few years back, my publisher sent me on a bus tour with a whole bunch of other authors. We had a handler, a driver, hotels and meals all arranged for us … It was exhausting doing three signings a day and never knowing what town we were in from moment to moment. But what fun to spend time trapped in a moving box with such incredible authors! I’m going to forget some names (apologies!), but off the top of my head I remember Roxanne St. Clair, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter, Jade Lee, Allison Brennan, Cherry Adair, Angela Knight, Sherry Thomas and Elizabeth Hoyt. I made some lovely friendships and will always be grateful to my publisher for the experience.

You brought tears to my eyes when I read your intro to WINTER AT MUSTANG RIDGE and how Pixel came into your life.  Aren’t rescues the most amazing beings?

Thank you! To be honest, Pixel kitten saved me right back. I had been through some health problems that year and needed something to fuss over and cuddle … Which was why I was on my way to the pound when she came sailing out onto the highway in front of me, like the Universe saying “Poof. Here’s your kitten!” We healed up together, and she’s the best assistant author I could have asked for. In fact, she’s got a paw on my keyboard right now.

Did you already have an idea for telling Rex’s story before you adopted Pixel or did she inspire that thread?

Believe it or not, the story of Jenny Skye rescuing a battered Goldie from the side of the road was already on the page when I rescued Pixel from the middle of the highway. Hello, universe speaking!

In SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE you raise the issue of selective mutism with great care and compassion.  What prompted you to create a character with that disability?

Thank you for the kind words! Lizzie’s character was very natural for me, as I was a very shy kid—I was brainy and awkward, had skipped a grade, and didn’t wear the right clothes or have the cool toys. The horses at the local riding stable didn’t know that, though. They thought I was just fine … and volunteering there—schlepping water buckets and picking out stalls in exchange for the occasional free ride also made me some friends who liked me just the way I was. So it was very easy for me to picture a child with social anxieties coming out of her shell when she gets to Mustang Ridge.

In WINTER AT MUSTANG RIDGE through Rose you open up the door to what many of us have or will deal with when our parents retire.  Looking way far ahead, what do you see yourself doing at that time in your life?

Well, Arizona and I are trying to start a family, but I’m in that (blerk) high-risk age range. So whether we manage it ourselves or decide to adopt, we’ll still be doing the parent thing later than most people do--much to the amusement of several of my good friends, who are getting their kids off to college as I’m trying to get mine started. I also see us maybe fostering an older child or two at some point. Arizona was a high-school math teacher and is very outdoorsy, and I think between the two of us, we could do some good. We’ll also be looking out for my mom, have a couple of cats, maybe a dog by then … and beyond that, I hope we’re still biking, kayaking, and generally enjoying life!

Do you have a Rose in your life?  If so, what does she think of the wonderful way you resolve her seeking?

LOL! If I did, I wouldn’t admit it in public. I know my dad stalks my blog … who knows who might be reading this?

Honestly, though, I’m very lucky in both my small family and Arizona’s much larger one. Rose’s foibles come more from people I’ve known through the horse world. I love horse people, but by and large their emotions tend to be right out there for the world to see, and they’re not shy about sharing their opinions. But at the same time, Like Jenny’s mom, if you scratch the surface of what looks crazy, you’ll often find some real reasons—and real hurts—beneath.

If you could be a character in any of your books who would it be and why?

It’s always the heroine of the book I’m working on! I get to fall in love over and over again with all these smart, interesting cowboys, veterinarians, metal workers, gem prospectors … (YUM!)

Looking over the past year, what has been the best moment for you in your writing career?

A few months ago I went to a workshop on storyboarding. It was the right theory at the right time, and I’ve loved the excuse to buy every shape of post-it note known to mankind!

If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for lunch, who would it be and what would you eat?

I would have green eggs and ham with Dr. Seuss.

You’ve gotten the call, a Hollywood producer is going to bring the Mustang Ridge series to the big screen.  Who do you cast in the major roles?  (Yes, I’m particularly thinking of Foster here).

I don’t honestly have a cast for Summer at Mustang Ridge. Sorry, babe! For Winter at Mustang Ridge, though, Jenny would be Anne Hathaway, and Nick would be Ryan Gosling. (Yum, num, num!)

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Well, since I’m semi-infamous for my Freudian typos, here’s a couple for you, straight from Mustang Ridge:

He looked over his shoulder, to where a pair of buttered suitcases sat open on the bed. (Ahem. *battered. And can I get that with some eggs?)

He was a good guy, a good horseman, and his scruffy gray dong just added to the appeal. (*dog. And. So. Not. Sexy!)

For more typos, Arizona stories, and snippets, folks can follow me on Facebook (as DocJess) or Twitter (@JesseHayworth).

Thank you for taking some time with us today!

Thank you so much for having me!

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