LET'S WELCOME THE AUTHOR OF: THE LAST TRUE COWBOY: LAURA DRAKE
WELCOME LAURA DRAKE
Rad-Reader: How did you pick the place for the story to take place? A small town in New Mexico.
Laura: After Texas, New Mexico is my favorite State. I’ve spent many hours on a motorcycle and a bicycle, traveling those roads. I love the Spanish and Native American influences, the wild country, and the people.
Rad-Reader: You had many different names how did you keep track of all of them? Notebook, computer, site,…
Laura: I have a ‘cheat sheet’ – an Excel spreadsheet where I keep all the details – names, places, stores, the high school mascot….
I learned the hard way; you think you’ll never forget, but when it takes 7 months to write a book, and it doesn’t come out for a year after that…I’m old. I can’t remember it all, and looking it up is excruciating.
Rad-Reader: Was this a story you had been wanting to write for some time or did it just happen to come to you?
Laura: This one was very different in the way it came to me. I had that first scene, where Carly broke down on the way to work. It just popped in my head one day. It took me forever to figure the rest out!
Rad-Reader: How did you come up with Papaw for her grandpa? I understand Nana?
Laura: I live in West Texas, and Papaw (pronounced pa-paw, not pawpaw) is a popular nickname for grandfathers here. The female side of that is memaw (mee-maw), but that one bugs me, so I chose nana, instead!
Rad-Reader: Have you been on the old Route 66?
Laura: A bunch! On the motorcycle, but also, my husband and I took a bicycle ride across New Mexico years ago and we rode an abandoned part of Route 66 that cars aren’t allowed on! It was neat – but it was a rough ride, and it was not easy to miss all the potholes!
Rad-Reader: Was there any one person or were there multiple people that inspired your Carly Beauchamp character?
Laura: My characters come from my brain – they’re never one person, but maybe an amalgamation of all the people I’ve known. Except for the heroes. A piece of each of them is my husband, my own personal hero!
Rad-Reader: How did you come up with all of the different characters that came through the dinner Rose Hart, Manny Stipple, Ms. Simmons for example?
Laura: I wish I knew…they just kind of show up, as I write! I love the townspeople of Unforgiven. Well, with the possible exception of Ann Miner, the reporter for the Patriot newspaper, and head of the historical society. She’s mean.
Rad-Reader: Did you just naturally come up with “Old Folks Tourette’s” and some of the other phrases Carly uses to describe her grandmother?
Laura: Yep. This stuff just comes to me as I write. I loved that one.
Rad-Reader: I loved the line her grandfather used about her going to the dance with britches and Carly saying they are her favorites. Then him saying, “you got robbed.” I tell my daughter all that all the time. Have you had the same discussion or been told it?
Laura: I had a teen daughter. Nuf’ said. I’m still traumatized. Good news is, she has two daughters of her own now, and the Mother’s Curse works!
Rad-Reader: Was Austin based on anyone or just a guy wanting to do his thing?
Laura: In a way, Austin is the guy in every woman’s sad country song, right? ‘He loves that damned old rodeo…’ (remember, Someday Soon?) Except, I tried to dig deeper with Austin. He does love the rodeo, but he has more human reasons for not coming home and marrying the love of his life – fear.
Rad-Reader: Did you have a plan for Carly’s character when you began writing it, she took many different turns all good just different?
Laura: Oh, this book was so hard. See, I plot on my bicycle. My mind is taken up with balancing, and traffic and all that, and for some reason, that frees my creative side. Problem is, that summer I was writing the book, I broke my leg in a freak fly-fishing accident. A plate, 13 screws and a pin later, I was in a wheelchair for 3 months! I lost my way so many times! She was going to have an uncle, who owned a restaurant. A million other blind alleys, before I finally settled her going to work the food truck.
Rad-Reader: Was it always your plan to have Austin and his brother both be in the same place for a time?
Laura: In the beginning, Austin didn’t even have a brother! He just showed up on the page one day. You may have figured out by now that I’m a pantser—I write by the seat of my pants. I usually know the hero and heroine in the beginning, and what they need to learn, but then I have to go find things for them to do!
Rad-Reader: How did you come up with Carly’s trip to Albuquerque and did it always stay the same as your original draft?
Laura: Spoiler here – I originally had it that Carly was slipped a date rape drug. I didn’t want it to be her fault! But my editor rightly pointed out that it had to be written the way it was. I think it made for a much stronger book. But it’s so hard for authors to be mean to their characters!
Rad-Reader: Was the Nevada character always part of her story and if so, how did you come up with her?
Laura: She’s another one who just showed up on the page. I wanted to make Carly’s time on the road as hard as possible, and I think Nevada fills the bill! The next book, Home at Chestnut Creek, is Nevada’s story. I hope everyone enjoys Nevada getting her HEA as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Rad-Reader: The connection Carly has with her grandparents continues to get stronger after she returns from her time away and she tells them what is going on with her. Was that always your plan with the story?
Laura: Oh yes. First, poor Carly had been through enough already – I couldn’t let her grandparents turn on her, too! But more importantly, I think that’s exactly how a close family would react to Carly’s situation. They wouldn’t like it, but they love their granddaughter and will support her, no matter what.
Rad-Reader: After reading some reviews I found a lot of people liked the Austin character. Which I guess I could see, but as a guy I found him to be quite selfish for being thirty. I do understand the character as you wrote him, is that a fair assessment?
Laura: Wow, you’re asking very insightful questions – thank you! I can’t disagree with those reviews – see, I wrote Carly and Austin as being a younger age. The editor wanted them older, so I changed their ages. But honestly, in today’s world, kids are growing up later, so I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility. Especially with fairly sheltered country kids.
Rad-Reader: Are you able to write your own stories or are you under contract?
Laura: They’re all my stories, but yes, I’m under contract. I also self-publish, but don’t have much time for that, with the deadlines!
Rad-Reader: If by chance do you remember what you did with your first royalty check for yourself?
Laura: It went into the bank! My loyal husband had paid all the writing costs for years until I was published, so I was more than happy to pay some of that back!
Rad-Reader: If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…
Carly: Elyse Nicole Dufour
Austin: Bonner Bolton
Laura: Oh, nice! I’ll take them! Bonner is a great guy, from everything I’ve seen and read. If you read my Sweet on a Cowboy series, you know I’m the world’s biggest PBR fan!
These are the two I used as inspiration when I was writing:
Carly: A model from Pinterest.
Austin: A model from Pinterest.
Rad-Reader: What song or songs best describes your two main characters or your book as a whole?
“Finding My Way Back to You – Chante Moore”
When Carly has had enough.
“Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old – Garth Brooks”
“Finding My Way Back – Jaheim”
They are trying to find their way back to each other.
Laura: Wow! I love the ones you picked! The whole book was actually inspired by a song!
"Carly Simon - Jesse"
I love the feelings in that song – when you’re in love with someone who you know isn’t good for you, but you can’t resist….
Rad-Reader: What does your family think about your whole writing career? Or does it even phase them?
Laura: They are proud of me, even though they don’t get it – why I work so hard when I’m retired, and where the stories come from (I don’t know myself!). My husband has always been so supportive, and now he tells everyone about me being an author (when I’m not around to hear).
Rad-Reader: What is the best book you have ever read as a child and then as an adult?
Laura: Impossible question! The childhood one is easier. I was horse-crazy as a young girl, so I loved all Marguerite Henry’s books – especially Misty of Chincoteague.
I can’t say. The minute I name one, I’m going to regret it when I think of another! But it’s probably one by Pat Conroy; The Prince of Tides (even better than the movie) or South of Broad.
Rad-Reader: Who influenced you most in your writing?
Laura: Another tough question, but I think my books are most like Jo-Ann Mapson and Barbara Samuels’ old romances. They straddle the gulf between Women’s Fiction and Romance.
Rad-Reader: Who has been your biggest cheerleader?
Laura: That one’s easy. My husband, Gary.
Rad-Reader: How long did it take you to be published once you decided you wanted to get your first book published?
Laura: I had written three books over Fifteen years before I sold. Yes, I’m a slow learner. But the good news is, once I sold The Sweet Spot, they wanted the other two!
Rad-Reader: What words of advice would you give to a new writer who is just starting out?
Laura: Be a sponge. Take classes, go to conferences. Keep a beginners attitude and see every mistake as a learning opportunity – it takes a loooong time to get good at this – it’s like learning the piano; you can’t expect to sit down and be good at it.
You will get discouraged and want to give up. Think back to why you began writing to begin with, and I’ll bet it didn’t have anything to do with ‘selling’.
Rad-Reader: Where is your favorite place to write?
Laura: In my office, with my two cats within petting distance.
Rad-Reader: Where do you seem to come up with the most inspirations for new book ideas?
Laura: I don’t know where they come from, so I can’t control them!
I can say where some of the past ones have come from:
A conversation with a rancher about a heifer that kept getting out – The Sweet Spot
A woman we bought our last house from, who was the manager of a bank, and was kidnapped from her home to go to the bank and open the safe – Against the Odds
Chris Shivers, my favorite bull rider of all time – Sweet on You
My sister, who I lost to cancer at 32 – Days Made of Glass
Rad-Reader: Do you keep a notebook or one on your phone to jot down ideas or names for characters you may hear when you're out?
Laura: I have a tiny voice recorder I carry with me everywhere. I stick it in the pocket of my jersey when I ride my bicycle to capture ideas.
Funny story: once I played back an idea to a friend, and she busted up laughing. She asked if I was having sex while I recorded it! I told her no, the heavy breathing was because I was pedaling up a hill!
Rad-Reader: Do you make storyboards or use tools like it on maybe Pinterest?
Laura: I’m always on the lookout for a new process. Right now, I write scenes that come to me on index cards. I like that because I can shuffle the order easily that way! I also have a white marker board on the wall in my office I use to keep track of timelines, rising and falling tension, things like that.
Rad-Reader: What is your next project and when is it coming out?
Laura: I just finished the edits on the second book in the series, Home at Chestnut Creek (it’s up for preorder), and it’ll be released in July.
I’m hard at work on the last book in the series, my title: Cowboy for Keeps. It’s Lorelei’s story – the manager of the Chestnut Creek Café. It’ll be released the beginning of 2020.
I have an idea for my next series; 3 retired bull riders buy a bison ranch! What do you think?
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers buy your books? Links
Laura: I have ten books out now, so rather than inundate you with links, check out my website – you can look them over and click through on whichever (or all!) you want to buy!
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers find you on the Web? Links
Facebook: Laura Drake
I really enjoyed your story, you had me at a small town on the old Route 66. That is where I grew up. I see and have seen towns slowly fade away because of the interstate, but few live on still in the desert. Looking forward to your next book.
Thank you for your time,
Pat & Char
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