LET'S WELCOME ANNA J. STEWART AUTHOR OF: THE RANCHER'S HOMECOMING

LET’S

WELCOME ANNA J. STEWART
AUTHOR OF:






Rad-Reader:  Did you write this for the series or did you already have the story and fit it for the series?



Anna:  Oh, this was definitely for the series. I don't know that I've ever tried to fit something I've written into the scope of another project. What an interesting question. As far as THE RANCHER'S HOMECOMING, yep. Wrote it especially for this series.





Rad-Reader:  How long did it take you to write this story?




Anna:  I think it took me about 2 months? I needed to push back when I really dug in until after I'd read the majority of the other stories. But 2 months sounds right. I tend to remember the ones that take me longer (and there have been a few of those, LOL).





Rad-Reader:  Do you like writing a series with other writers, why, and is this the first time you have done it?



Anna:  I do enjoy it. It adds another layer of difficulty I think, but it's also an added layer of fun and responsibility. You never want to be the author who lets the other ones down. I've written stories for Christmas Town for the past four (or is it five?) years and that's trying to mesh with almost a dozen other authors. Five was much more easy to manage, especially since these four authors are also my good friends.





Rad-Reader:  How do you go about writing with other writers?  Is there like a roundtable of ideas?




Anna:  Skype is a blessing.  Melinda and I are the only two California girls. The others are in Washington, Illinois, and South Carolina. Other than getting together once a year at a writer's conference, we do everything via Skype or text messaging. We set up a time, we each have our list of things we have to discuss/work through, and we tackle it. That's after the initial conversation that set up the series as a whole. Then we got to get into the details of the characters. I think we had maybe 3 Skype sessions, but a ton of texts and emails. We also set up an online spreadsheet we could each add to as we needed. That came in really handy as we had a lot of story details that crossed over from book to book.





Rad-Reader:  Can you give us some backstory about Chance and Katie that the blurb/synopsis doesn’t tell us?



Anna:  Well, they haven't seen each other in more than 10 years, but before that, I'd say Chance probably considered Katie a "little sister". That makes sense since he married her older sister. They were friends back when Chance grew up on the ranch and in a way, I think maybe Katie understood Chance more than even his brothers did. That makes things a bit easier when he comes home, but his history with his father-in-law (Katie's father) complicates things. They almost have to get to know each other all over again and this time it's definitely different. For both of them.





Rad-Reader:  When Chance first saw Katie, it had to be hard.  What was his reaction?




Anna:  In my mind, I envisioned Chance's first reaction upon seeing her, to tie to his feelings for his late wife, Katie's sister. But when I actually wrote the scene, that didn't happen. He saw her as the person she is right from the start. There was never any mistaking Katie for Maura so I think he was a bit relieved at that. Katie, on the other hand, I'm not sure she believed at first he wasn't thinking of her as anything other than the kid sister Maura had left behind when she eloped with Chance.





Rad-Reader:  Katie sees Chance as a man and it’s messing with her mentally.  How do you think she is coping?



Anna:  Katie's really good at compartmentalizing I think. She has to be. She's juggling a lot between her work at the ranch, her father, and those pesky secrets she's keeping. Adding Chance to the mix definitely sets her on edge, but at first, I'm not sure she even realizes there's the possibility for anything beyond friendship. When that thought first hits, I think she's scared and feeling guilty because he was married to her sister. As someone who has often been overshadowed by Maura, it's not a place she wants to be. But that doesn't stop her attraction from growing.





Rad-Reader:  After seeing what happened to Katie’s face, Chance reacted with such anger, did that have more to do with the anger left over from Maura or from what was done to Katie alone?




Anna:  Oh, both, definitely. With Maura having been gone as long as she has, confronting their father about how he'd treated Maura wouldn't do any good. I don't think Chance ever believed Lochlan would physically harm Katie, but realizing he was wrong, he wasn't about to stand by and let another one of Lochlan's daughters be hurt by him. That just isn't who Chance is. Not when it comes to the women in his life.





Rad-Reader:  Now that Chance laid eyes on the box from L.A. while picking up clothes from Katie’s room.  What is she going to do when it all comes out?  With trust?  What was in it and why doesn’t he ever ask about it?



Anna:  Ooooh, I'm not going to spoil that bit of story twist. But let's just say what's in that box is something that Chance needs at one point. Something Katie honestly doesn't plan to give him as it adds to the deception she's involved in. But yes, it does go toward trust and how far people (ie: Katie) will go to take care of the people she loves.





Rad-Reader:  What exactly could Big-E’s motive be for putting Katie in such a position?




Anna:  Without giving too much away, Big E isn't empathetic enough to realize how much damage he risks doing to Katie in regards to her relationship with the brothers. He wants what he wants and he's going to get what he wants no matter the cost. He also knows how to get people on his side--by offering whatever it is they need. He can push all the right buttons, he just doesn't think about the fallout.





Rad-Reader:  The whole family holds Katie near and dear.  Why doesn’t she just tell them what Big-E has made her do?



Anna:  Because she knows it risks sending all the brothers away. *zips lips* Also, coming clean means Chance wouldn't come home, which means she wouldn't get to be involved in Rosie's life, which is really what her goal is at the beginning of the book. She wants to be part of Rosie's life. And she'll do what it takes to get that.





Rad-Reader:  Katie has carried a heavy load.  Big-E and her father have taken advantage of her.  How did everyone think everything was getting done if there were really no employees or customers around?




Anna:  There were enough employees to get the job done. The numbers dwindled early in the series because that was one of the catalysts to bringing the brothers back, but as the stories progressed, even if you didn't see them on the page, Katie had more help on the ranch. Also, in my mind, Katie always put the ranch first; she knew what Big E was doing and she planned for it. It meant more work for her of course, but I honestly believe if it had gotten too bad, she would have considered coming clean if it meant keeping the ranch going.





Rad-Reader:  Getting injured cost her to be laid up can the family now see how much pressure and responsibility Katie had and with no pay raise.  Big-E is gone?  It took all of them to get done mainly on her own.



Anna:  I think her getting put out of commission did shine a light on just how much she handled on the ranch. And it wasn't so much an issue of a pay raise; she does live on ranch property. It was a matter of paying her what her father had been paid when he was on the ranch. It was more about principle than actual cash. Also, I think it's often underestimated how much a woman takes on and gets done. Women do what they have to and don't complain about it. Katie is no different.  :)





Rad-Reader:  How are all the bills even being paid even now?  Since Big-E is gone? 




Anna:  That issue was pretty much resolved in previous books. As problems, Big E presented to bring the brothers home get resolved, other parts, including, the issue of the bills, is taken care of. The money was there; it was a matter of who had access to it.





Rad-Reader:  Hadley seemed to see and hear all and the understanding she had when it hit the fan for Katie.  Do you think partly because she knew what it was like to be put on the spot by an employer also?  Don’t you think it had to feel worse when it was someone Katie considered family?



Anna:  I think that was a lot of it on Hadley's part. She also has actually been on the ranch, witnessing all that Katie has been dealing with. For a long time, Katie tried to hold herself apart from the family and was always very aware of the fact that she is not a Blackwell. That doesn't mean she didn't want to be thought of as one, however. Which is really what causes her the most pain. She knows what she's done is wrong, but agreeing to work for Big E ended up being a bit like quicksand. Once she was in, there really wasn't a way out of it other than to surrender.





Rad-Reader:  Chance wanted Katie to be honest.  But he wasn’t honest with how he felt totally either.  She had pressures like he did with her sister.  Why couldn’t he understand that?




Anna:  Short answer? Because he's a man. We see it because we're on the outside watching them. But being lied to, no matter what the reasoning, is really the unforgivable crime for him. Or it was. He could never really hold Maura to account for what happened between them, so perhaps there was a bit of transference there. Stubbornness really does go hand in hand with testosterone, I think. So yeah, short answer? He's a man, LOL.
Rad-Reader: LOL





Rad-Reader:  When he knows that Katie is leaving town after he has turned his back on her.  Once he told her she would never be alone (clearly a lie.)  He does something special for her.  What made you pick that act?  It was perfect considering his fear.  Ty butting in was funny too.



Anna:  I don't think him telling Katie she would never be alone was a lie. It was the truth at that moment. That said, I always knew at some point Chance was going to have to perform that particular action (don't want to spoil it). It also was a completely natural impulse. The fear didn't really factor in for more than a flash; he outran it. Or outrode it <G>. 





Rad-Reader:  Ben got to be a real pain in this last book why was that?  Why was his anger so out of control?




Anna:  Ben was kind of the butthead brother from book one. Shhh...don't tell Melinda I said that LOL. People don't change dramatically overnight. They need a good reason. And let's face it, Ben's anger is understandable. Of all the brothers, Big E really messed with him the most and in the most personal way. I also think there was probably a little resentment on Ben's part where Chance was concerned. I'm not sure he ever really understood why Chance had to take the road he did and now that Chance has come back, Ethan, Jon, and Tyler have all pretty much welcomed him back without much question. To me, Ben is the kind of man who wants someone to earn their place and Chance hasn't really done that, especially given that Chance takes his time making up his mind about what to do with the ranch. I don't think it's really until "that moment"--and those who have read the book know what moment I'm talking about--that Ben realizes just how unfair he's been to his baby brother. All that said, I made sure that Ben had some redeeming moments, especially in regards to Rosie. He loves that little girl just as much as everyone else. Maybe even more.
Rad-Reader:  Wow, that moment.





Rad-Reader:  The Big-E manipulation items that Katie plants were so well planned out how did Big-E know what would be needed and when?



Anna:  From the start, before Big E even left Falcon Creek, he had every move of this plan mapped out. He knew what and who to manipulate and what strings to pull. That's just how the story went, LOL. Also...that's what needed to happen to make the stories all flow into the next one.  :) 
Rad-Reader: Well, it worked each item pulled at the heartstrings just a little more with each one.





Rad-Reader:  What happens with Zoe does she ever find her happy since she seemed to really be in love with Big-E and he ruined that for her?




Anna:  Oy. Zoe. I'm pretty sure she's off looking for whatever she needs to find. We did discuss bringing her into more of the books as a subplot, but honestly, I know I didn't want to write about her, LOL. I've written other stories with mean girl characters and they're just torture for an author. Some authors like that challenge. I, however, am not one of them.
Rad-Reader:  She was a tough pill to swallow for sure.





Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…


Katie:  Jane Levy

Chance:  Michael Ray

Rosie:  Pinterest picture

Hadley:  Lauren Alaina

Tyler:  Jordan Davis

Ethen:  Garrett Hedlund

Grace:  Avril Lavigne

Ben:  Chris Lane

Rachel:  Kelly Pickler

Jon:  Chris Carmack

Lydia:  Jana Kramer

Zoe:  Katy Perry

Poppy: Pinterest picture

Big-E:  James Brolin





Anna:  Wow. Other than my main characters, I didn't really have people in mind, but I'll give this a shot. Forgive the blanks, LOL. I don't have clear images for them.


Katie:  Emma Stone

Chance:  Clayne Crawford

Rosie:  Whoever this little girl is
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/786722628633667469/

Hadley: 


Tyler:  Henry Cavill (according to Amy Vastine)

Ethen: 


Grace: 


Ben:  Bailey Chase
Rachel: 


Jon: 


Lydia: 


Zoe: 


Poppy: 


Big-E:  Noble Willingham 


Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your couple or book as a whole?


“Same as Me – Tyler Shaw”
When Chance decided it was time to leave home find and follow his dream he was told by his grandfather Big-E.  You can’t with this guitar that your grandmother gave you.  So, I guess you’ll have no dream now.  But Chance didn’t let him feel he could do that to him.  Would let him break his dream.


“Like I’m Gonna Lose You – Meghan Trainor ft. John Legend”

Meeting up with Maura’s little sister was eye-opening for the both of them.  Both Chance and Katie had to see each other as adults for the first time.  Each time they were around each other a spark would ignite the flame they tried to put out.  Saying starting anything was wrong because of Maura.  Yet, Maura had been gone now for two years.  What they were feeling was here and now.


“Fallin’ For You – Colbie Caillat”
Katie has always just been one of the boys never had girlfriends to hang with or a boyfriend for that matter.  She tried to be the boy her dad never had but he always wanted Maura more than her.  Maura leaving with Chance made him bitter.  Katie so loved the land and the work.  Chance coming back as a man makes her see any man for the first time.  He’s her one.  It scares her beyond words.  Because she had secrets.


“What Hurts the Most – Rascal Flatts”
The night the secrets were revealed and all the love she thought would bring the family back together for good, don’t.  Yet, she should have known Big-E couldn’t allow it to be a happy reveal but a hurtful rub in your face betrayal with Katie as his fall girl.  Costing her the man she loves forever and most of all her niece too.




Anna:  Oh, you're so going to hate me, but I am not a music person. Honestly, I don't listen to much music of today at all. I'm still stuck in the 70's and 80's, so I'm going to say great choices and steal yours.  :)





Rad-Reader:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?



Anna:  Early in high school, soon after picking up my first romance novel. Around the same time, I'd started what today would be called fan fiction for me and my friends. They got bored and moved on to something else. I didn't. Still, haven't.





Rad-Reader:  When did you publish your first book?  Was it a self-published book or did you have a publisher?




Anna:  My first book was published in December of 2014. All thanks to Melinda Curtis who invited me to write a novella in an anthology she wanted to pitch to Harlequin's Heartwarming line. That story, The Christmas Wish, was picked up as part of the "Christmas, Actually" book. The Rancher's Homecoming is my 25th, so it's been a busy four+ years!




Rad-Reader:  Three things you can’t leave home without when you leave each day?


Anna:  My cell phone. It's disgusting. If I don't have it with me, I'm literally shaking. Addicted much?  LOL.  Not so long ago I'd have said my Kindle, but now I'm reading more on my phone. Second, probably a notepad and paper. They're always in my purse in case I get ideas (I hate taking notes on my phone). Third? Chapstick or lipgloss. These days it's about the only makeup I wear.
Rad-Reader: Don't feel bad my phone too.  Mainly because of my calendar.  For the alarms, they will tell me where and when I need to be there.  If not, not happening. LOL





Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it due out?




Anna:  My next release will be in April. Holiday Kisses, the fifth in my Butterfly Harbor series for Heartwarming, is Calliope's story. She's the town's answer to the good witch, so it was really fun to write. After that, I'll have two releases in September and then another in December. It's possible I'll be releasing three more paranormal novellas next year, but I'm still mulling that over.





Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you on the Web?  Site



Anna:  www.AuthorAnnaStewart.com  I'm also on Facebook a lot; Twitter, too, but that's not my favorite place these days. I also send out a newsletter with every release that includes giveaways for subscribers. There will also be #Free books to subscribers sometime next year (once I get some old ones revamped <G>). You can sign up on my home page (scroll down to the bottom).





Rad-Reader:  Where can our reader buy your books?  Links




Anna:  You can find links to all of my books at www.AuthorAnnaStewart.com/category/books





Anna,
     Thank you so much for being with us.  Loved this book and all the drama not to mention twist and turns you take us on.  Not just with where the characters go with regard to what is happening with the ranch but with our emotions and the characters too.  I love that you made Katie a strong capable woman yet with a soft center.
     We see how she has pined away for her sister's husband for years but also felt so guilty especially after she has passed away.  Having him and his daughter around is like a dream come true.  And yet, her worst nightmare under the circumstances.
Yes, I did enjoy it, can you tell?
     Come back when you next book drops and let us know so we can feature it on our Shout-Out: An Author's Place page.
Thanks again,
Char

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