Name: Jacquie Rogers
Age: I rather think of myself as vintage.
Where are you from? I live in Seattle, Washington, USA, now but I’m from Owyhee County in Idaho, and a good share of my stories are set there.
A little about your self; i.e., your education, family life, etc.
I grew up in Owyhee County, Idaho, where most of my books are set. The Old West still lives on there, and it was great fun to ride horses all over the hills with my friends. But my favorite thing to do then and now was read. My husband and in live in the big city now. I miss my old stomping grounds, but I enjoy Seattle, too. Writing has brought me many friends, most of whom I’ve never met in person, but they are dear to me just the same.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Jacquie: I have two recent releases. The first is a western historical romance duet with Caroline Clemmons titled Mail-Order Tangle. She wrote the first book, Mail-Order Promise, and I wrote the second, Mail-Order Ruckus. You can read more about it at the Mail-Order Tangle blog.
The other release is my short story, Have Wand – Will Travel, in Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico, Volume 2. This is a crazy-fun story that’s a mash-up of Have Gun – Will Travel, Narnia, and The Princess Bride. The other stories in this anthology are excellent reading, too, and they’re a wonderful bunch of authors. I wrote about my story at the Prairie Rose Publications blog.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Jacquie: I started writing in 1996 for lack of anything else to do (I was sick) and have been at it ever since. Before that, I’d never given a single thought to being a writer.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Jacquie: It sort of came gradually. Probably the first rejection started me thinking I could be a writer, because it was very encouraging.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Jacquie: I dreamed it. That book will never see the light of day. It’s my learning book. But I still love the characters and the story. It’s a time-travel to the future and is somewhat of a mash-up of later movies: Fifth Element, Firefly, and Cowboys and Aliens.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Jacquie: All my stories are fast-paced and lighthearted. There are no messages. I love braincandy so that’s what I write.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Jacquie: For Mail-Order Tangle, it was a collaborative brainstorming session with Caroline Clemmons. Both Dickerson sisters were mail-order brides, and both encountered difficulties that neither of them were prepared to handle—a tangled up mess. Hence, Mail-Order Tangle.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Jacquie: Just that love will prevail. I don’t write self-help books.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Jacquie: Have Wand – Will Travel isn’t realistic at all. There’s a mage, a centaur-horse-unicorn shifter, griffins, a giant man-eating centipede, and beavers of extraordinary size. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen any of those in real life. LOL. As for Mail-Order Tangle, both books have authentic settings and the mail-order bride business boomed in the Old West. Of course, fiction is larger than life, so while I’d say the stories are authentic and plausible, I wouldn’t call them realistic. But then, isn’t that the fun of it all?
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Jacquie: I often include peripheral characters that are an amalgam of people I’ve known. That’s one of the things that make storytelling so fun. The main characters, though, are generally all from my imagination. As for experiences, I grew up on a dairy farm in a remote area that is still very similar to the Old West, so I have a wealth of incidents that happened to me or to my friends from which I can and do draw.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Jacquie: More than individual books, just the act of reading obsessively shaped me more than anything. Especially my backside, although now I can read my Kindle while on my exercise bicycle. Yes, I have favorite books—my favorite of all time is The King Must Die by Mary Renault. It would be interesting to re-read that book because I haven’t read it since I started writing, so I might have a different perspective after having learned the craft.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Jacquie: Many authors have helped me over the years. Gerri Russell, Karen Harbaugh, Stella Cameron, Judith Laik, and my critique partners, Ann Charles and Wendy Delaney. I’ve also learned a lot from Caroline Clemmons. After I’d written a couple books, I read one of hers and loved it. I analyzed that book for plot and structure, so I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time. You can just imagine how delighted I was to work with her!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Jacquie: I’m just getting ready to start Outlaw Ranger by James Reasoner.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Jacquie: All the time. Isn’t that the greatest thing about the new publishing landscape? I’ve found some really talented writers whose works would never have been published five years ago. Two brand new authors are Kathleen Rice Adams and Kirsten Lynn, both of whom are very gifted.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Jacquie: I’m writing the first chapter for the sixteenth volume of Wolf Creek (all the authors write under the house name Ford Fargo), also the second story of my Muleskinners series, No Small Tempest, and the fifth book of my Hearts of Owyhee series, Much Ado About Mustangs. Plus I have some other works in the stewpot.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Jacquie: I can’t. There isn’t just one. I’ve been blessed with many, many people who’ve helped me every step of the way. Currently, Western Fictioneers, Prairie Rose Publications, and dozens of friends are lending me the strength and motivation to carry on.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Jacquie: Yes. I want to write more books, but I can’t do that if I don’t sell books, so writing morphs into a career whether you planned it or not. That said, being an author requires all the same tools that any other business owner needs. Only thing is, most of us would rather be writing than marketing or bookkeeping.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Jacquie: Anything can be improved, but once it’s published, I get amnesia; otherwise, I’d worry it to death and that’s certainly not productive. So I guess the answer would be no.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Jacquie: It just happened. My mother wanted to be a writer and she wanted me to be one, too. That’s why I did just about anything else. But once I started writing, the bug bit me and here I am.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Jacquie: This is an excerpt from Mail-Order Ruckus, my story in Mail-Order Tangle. This is where the hero, Matt Johanssen, first sees Laura Dickerson, the heroine. Just before that, his uncle had given him a new puppy.
© Copyright 2014 Caroline Clemmons and Jacquie Rogers
From Mail-Order Ruckus:
“Miss Dickerson?” He gawked again. “Miss Laura Dickerson? What the hell is she doing here?” Feeling contrite over his language, he nodded toward Helga. “Pardon my French.”
“Yep, I was right. Matt’s seen her up close, so he’d recognize her.”
“And you knew she was coming with the brides?”
Matt wondered if this was some crazy scheme of Kage’s to get him leg-shackled. If so, it wasn’t going to work. He vowed to have words with his cousin next time they met up, and those words might be followed by a little tap to the nose.
The short man in a green striped suit stood beside Miss Dickerson and called out an invitation to sign up. He explained that only those men on the roster would be allowed to court the women. Of course, it cost ten dollars to sign up.
Helga pushed him forward. “Go ahead, Matt, sign up.”
“Not a way in the world.” He couldn’t believe Miss Dickerson stood with a bunch of husband-hunters. Laura was a decent, beautiful woman who’d make any man a fine wife. She didn’t have to resort to antics such as this. She deserved to be courted proper, not auctioned off on the balcony of the Idaho Hotel.
Warmth trailed from his heart and pooled in his waistband.
* * *
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Jacquie: Description and transitions—all the housekeeping you have to do to get from one scene to the next. Dialogue comes easy. Sometimes it’s difficult to think of unique situations, or unique ways to turn ordinary situations to something usable.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Jacquie: Caroline Clemmons is a favorite, as I already mentioned, but honestly, I can’t pick just one. There are so many who have amazing bodies of work. Robert Randisi has written over 700 books and they’re all good; James Reasoner has written over 300 and they’re all good. I can’t even whittle it down to my top ten. Top fifty might be doable.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Jacquie: Not really. Most of my books are set in Owyhee County, Idaho, and I go back there as often as I can. Sleight of Heart was set in Colorado where I rode the narrow-gauge steam train from Silverton to Durango, which plays heavily in the book. But I’ve written others that were set in places I’ve never been. Google Earth helps a lot.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Jacquie: Dar Albert designed the cover for MAIL-ORDER TANGLE. Livia Washburn Reasoner designed the cover for Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico (both volumes).
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Jacquie: The grind. I love dreaming up the characters and the situation. Plotting is fun. But writing a book is a marathon and I have a short attention span. It’s really hard to stay on task when there are so many other stories that are waiting to be fleshed out.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Jacquie: I always learn something from every book, novella, or short story because I do a lot of research. History books tell you about battles and politics, but they’re sorely lacking on daily life. What does an average farmer do from dawn to dusk? I grew up on a farm so I already knew that, but it’s an example. In Much Ado About Marshals, I learned quite a lot about patent medicines. In Much Ado About Madams, I researched Old West brothels. For Sleight of Heart, I had to learn about poker in 1883—the rules were different then, and so were the cards. The mail-order bride business wasn’t straightforward, either. There were many different schemes and I had to find one that fit. In every book, I learn more about the craft of writing and what works or doesn’t work for me.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Jacquie: I used to have a lot of advice but the more I write, the less advice I have to give. Writers need to read, though. That’s the one thing that gets shoved by the wayside when you’re so busy writing your own stories.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Jacquie: First and foremost, thank you! And thank you, Fiona, for hosting me today.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Jacquie: No, I don’t, but I was a big fan of Billy Goat Gruff.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Jacquie: Situational humor and double entendres make me laugh. Sentimental things make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
Jacquie: I’d like to meet my ancestor, Gamellus de Alsop, who was given the township of Alsop-en-le-Dale in Derbyshire by one of William’s nobles, Henry de Ferrers. Gamellus fought in the Battle of Hastings and it would be intriguing to listen to his story.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Jacquie: She made us laugh.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Jacquie: I like to watch baseball and rodeo. I also like work Sudoku puzzles, and of course, I love reading.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Jacquie: I don’t watch TV—can’t abide all the commercials. Besides, if I like a series, it’s a sure-fire indication that the show will be cancelled. Favorite films are Apple Dumpling Gang, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Blazing Saddles, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Outlaw Josey Wales—mostly westerns and romcoms.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Jacquie: Strawberry shortcake/ jewel colors/ rock, country
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Jacquie: I did a lot of things before I started writing—campaign manager, deli clerk, office manager, bookkeeper, software developer, and I even milked cows. But what I love to do is photography.
Hearts of Owyhee series
High Stakes Heroes series
Muleskinners #1: Judge Not
Don’t Go Snaring My Heart (Lassoing a Groom)
Much Ado About Misfires (Rawhide ’n Roses)
A Flare of the Heart (Hearts and Spurs)
A Gift for Rhoda (Wishing for a Cowboy)
’Twas the Fight Before Christmas (A Wolf Creek Christmas)
Non-fiction Books (with Ann Charles)