Erica Vetsch as our spotlight author. It’s been a while since we caught up with Erica, and she’s been busy, so has lots to share!
Erica, welcome back to Novel PASTimes! And you’re not just celebrating the release of one title like most of our authors are when we interview them. You had two titles hit the shelves on July 1, plus have already had three others release earlier this year. Let’s start by letting you tell us a little about each of those.
It has been a very busy year for me! God has blessed me beyond my dreams. In February, my novella, A Palace on the Plains, released in the Homestead Brides Collection. Then in May, The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection released which included my novella, The Archaeologist’s Find. And here in July, both The Convenient Bride Collection which features my novella, A Bride For Bear, and my trade length novel The Cactus Creek Challenge released on the first, and on the twenty-third, another novella, The Trail Boss’s Bride, releases in the Journey’s of the Heart Collection. Whew!
Big congratulations! Now, introduce us a bit more to the main characters in The Cactus Creek Challenge, Cassie and Ben.
Cassie is a tomboy-turned-schoolteacher who has had a crush on Ben since she was a little girl. Unfortunately, Ben still thinks of her as the little hoyden who followed him around when they were younger. Cassie is determined and very what-you-see-is-what-you-get. She doesn’t hide her emotions…except her love for Ben.
Ben has wanted to be a lawman like his pa for about as long as he can remember. And he’s secretly afraid he’ll never measure up to the legend his father has become. He’s well-liked around town, and he’s good at his job. So good that most folks never see the trouble he quells. Even Cassie thinks his job is so easy now that anyone—even a girl—could do it!
When they have to swap jobs for a month, they each get to learn to walk a mile in another’s shoes, and they learn that they are better together than working on their own.
What did you enjoy most about writing their story? What were the challenges?
I loved putting the characters into ‘fish-out-of-water’ trouble and seeing how they got themselves out. How would they tackle a job they had no training for, and how would they deal with having to accept help? I also particularly enjoyed two secondary characters, a pair of mischievous young twins who are having a difficult time deciding if they want to be lawmen or outlaws when they grow up.
One challenge I faced as I wrote the book was balancing the four Point-Of-View characters. There are two romances running concurrently in The Cactus Creek Challenge, and making sure everyone got enough ‘screen time’ while keeping the main story about Ben and Cassie was challenging.
You’ve written several stand-alone novels but have also been part of several novel collections. What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages to each format?
It’s the best of both words, for sure. When writing stand-alone novels, I get to include subplots and secondary characters and tell bigger stories. With the novellas, I get to pare things down to the basics of story and really focus. Also, with the novella collections, you get to brainstorm marketing ideas and meet new groups of readers, sort of ‘cross-pollinate’ with new people.
The Legend of Obadiah Wilder: The Glorious Defeat of the Dickenson Gang looks like a different type of book from the others you’ve written (or at least the cover is completely different). Tell us about that story and how you came to write it.
You’re right, Obadiah Wilder is a different type of book. It’s not a romance at all, which is definitely something new for me. The Legend of Obadiah Wilder is written in as a pastiche to the Dime Novel. With a florid style and lots of action, this little book tells the story of how Ben’s father Obadiah defeated the Dickenson Gang and became a legendary lawman in Texas.
I approached Barbour about writing the dime novel as a way to tell Obadiah’s story and set up The Cactus Creek Challenge. And I wanted to give something to my readers for free, a gift to say thank you for their encouragement.
That is really neat! You were born and raised in Kansas, and now write historical romance set in the Old West. What do you enjoy most about writing stories from that region and era?
Cowboy/Old West stories are the American version of Knights/Chivalry tales of the Medieval Period. There was an unspoken “Code” that cowboys adhered to that appeals to me. The people who formed this country, who expanded it, who explored and endured and lived and died in the Old West fascinate me. I admire their grit.
You refer to yourself as a “history museum addict.” I can relate! What are some of the coolest or strangest things you’ve seen in museums?
Visitors, come back tomorrow for Erica’s answer to this and other questions – and she does have some cool historical things to share from museum visits!
You can also enter to win a copy of Erica’s latest novel, The Cactus Creek Challenge! One U.S. entrant will win a copy later this week. Just click the Rafflecopter entry below or leave a comment here on the blog answering this for Erica:
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen in a museum?
We’re looking forward to your answers! Don’t forget to stop by for Erica’s own answer to that question tomorrow.