My guest today is Caroline Clemmons, an eclectic author from Texas whose novel The Most Unsuitable Wife was a finalist for the Holt Medallion. Caroline is currently celebrating two releases through The Wild Rose Press: Out of the Blue in June and The Texan’s Irish Bride in September (but you can already add it to your wishlist on the TWRP site!).

My first question is from one writer to another: What do you do when your characters decide to do something you hadn’t planned?

That depends. Sometimes a detour enhances the story. For instance, in OUT OF THE BLUE, I hadn’t plotted the part about Oily’s daughter. That just popped up and the characters took over. I thought it a good direction that emphasized the hero’s compassion and the heroine’s resourcefulness. If, however, the hero and heroine had decided to end the story or go to Timbuktu, I would have redirected them. After all, I’m their creator and I drive the bus.

What real events inspired your story?

Sometimes a news story will spark a “what if” idea that builds or changes the actual event. In OUT OF THE BLUE again, for instance, a real scandal a couple of years ago in the Dallas Police Department is used in the story, even though the events I use are not the same as those in the story. Can’t say more without ruining the book for anyone who might want to read it.

How do you block out the rest of the world when you’re writing?

I grew up in a noisy home, so I’m pretty good at blocking out everything whether I’m writing or reading. My kids used to jokingly say, “Earth to mother, earth to mother” to get my attention if I were reading. A few years ago a virus settled in my husband’s right ear that has caused deafness in that ear, which formerly was his good ear. He worked as an electrical engineer in the aerospace industry (a genuine rocket scientist) and stood too close to rockets being launched before he was provided earphones. He has to turn the volume up to blasting to hear the TV. He also listens to programs/movies on the computer in his office across the hall. Good thing I can block out noise. LOL I listen to instrumental music while I’m writing and just sit and create my worlds.

I envy you that ability, but I guess it takes practice! When is your next book due out, and what’s it about?

My next book, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, will be released on September 3rd, although it’s already on The Wild Rose Press website. This is my favorite cover, and was designed by Nicola Martinez. THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE is the story of half-Cherokee Texan Dallas McClintock and displaced Irish lass Cenora Rose O’Neill. I love this story and am so glad it will be available in print as well as e-book. Here’s the blurb:

Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father somehow arranged the trap for Dallas, but she agrees to wed the handsome stranger. She’d do anything to protect her family, and she wants to save herself from marriage to the bully Tom Williams. A fine settled man like Dallas will rid himself of her soon enough, but at least she and her family will be safely away from Tom Williams.

Texas rancher Dallas McClintock has no plans to wed for several years. Right now, he’s trying to establish himself as a successful horse breeder/trainer. Severely wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, Dallas is taken to her family’s wagon to be tended. He is trapped into marrying Cenora, but he is not a man who goes back on his word. His wife has a silly superstition for every occasion, but passion-filled nights with her make up for everything—even when her eccentric family drives him to distraction.

Nicola also designed my cover; she’s very gifted! What is your favorite character you’ve written, and why?

Other than my WIP, my favorite character is Nathan “Nate” Bartholomew in THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. Embarrassing to admit, but he came to me while I was in church listening to our minister preach on the man Nathan, who became Bartholomew as a new Christian. Nate’s a rake and con man who thinks he’s past redemption. He learns he has the right instincts and turns into a true hero. The book is available only used at Amazon, although I have a few new copies left.

That’s not embarrasing – that’s divine inspiration! What are you currently working on?

My main WIP is the time travel in which the heroine is named after my new sister-in-law, Penny Jane. I work on it most of my writing time. Penny is a feisty rancher who comes forward from 1896 to present day. I love the hero, Jake Knight.

My younger brother and I are compiling a book on my father’s Johnson family. Currently I’m scanning photos to add to the text while my brother researches a bit more. We divided the branches between us and I’ve finished my parts of the text. I gave him the hardest ones, of course. Big sisters have some privileges, right? We hoped to have the book printed and for sale to kin by later this fall but, as usual, we’re a bit behind. My brother’s job keeps getting in the way—you know how unsympathetic employers can be—his expects him to show up and work. We’re close, though, and eager to see the project completed. We’re paring down information so the book won’t be too heavy to lift—or pay for.

What a great idea! And I’m sure you had lots of fun doing the research, and probably came up with a few story ideas too. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Other than reading, I love spending time with family, even if it’s just to hang out in the family room and watch a Netflix or TV. My youngest daughter and I like to browse antique malls and estate sales. We used to have antique booths and can’t get it out of our system. My husband and I like to travel, but haven’t been able to travel much the last couple of years due to health concerns. Our eldest daughter went with us on a fishing trip this summer. Of course, I spent the time in the nice, cool motel room reading and on the laptop while the others fished. My husband likes to read, and we enjoy reading together in the evenings. Obviously, I also enjoy collecting family information and genealogy. Not just the dry pedigrees, but anecdotes and photos and migrations and allied families to make history come alive. For instance, the Civil War, the War of 1812, the American Revolution are much more interesting if you know how your ancestors were involved in those wars. Migration is more interesting if you chart your family’s route across the U.S. Yes, I can go on and on ad nauseum about history and genealogy!

I share that interest, and you’re right, it really does make history come alive. If only they could teach some of that in school instead of dry facts and figures. What were the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

1. That I could actually create a book.
2. That the characters become real people to me.
3. That the inciting incident plays in my head like a movie.
4. That my love for history—especially Texas history—could inspire so many books! Except for one novella, all my books are set primarily in Texas.
5. That the ideas never stop coming. As of now, I’ll have to live to the age of 200 to write all the books in my head—and more arrive weekly.

How many books have you written, and which is your favourite?

Published/contracted are seven books and two novellas. I have five other romances started: four western historical romances that are proposal length and one time travel that’s my WIP. My favorite is always the one I’m working on, which is a time travel currently titled TEXAS SHOWDOWN. However, I love all of them except the first one published. Why is a long story, but the book had to be cut tremendously twice and I find the result choppy and not nearly up to the quality of the original. However, it made me a published author and has sold to many foreign countries, so it’s been profitable. I also have two mysteries completed and another proposal length. For readers, proposal length is three chapters totalling up to fifty pages and a synopsis, but each of my proposals is around a hundred pages just because I divide my books into fourths in my mind.

Thanks so much for stopping by to answer my questions, Caroline.

You can find out more about Caroline at her website, or keep up with the latest news on her blog at A Writer’s Life. To find out more about Caroline’s books, click on the cover images above to follow the links to The Wild Rose Press.