I grew up in NE Oregon and now live in central Oregon. I love the wide open feel of where we live now and the ability to be close to a town, yet feel like we aren't. The area where I grew up was very isolated and behind the times, but it was a good place for kids to grow up.
2. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
As a child I didn't think about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I enjoyed the arts and thought librarians and teachers were gods. I loved to read and learn new things. My writing came from my love of story and learning new things in the books I read. I try to do that with each of my books. Pick something in the story that is new to me and hopefully new to most readers and enlighten them as I also entertain.
3. What do you do for fun?
Fun…I like to ride my horse, go to lunch with friends, and do family things.
4. How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?
Like I said above I grew up in a very small close-knit community that was a bit backwards. I don't mind visiting there, but I would never live there. I didn't like having every person you came in contact with knowing everything about you. They also didn't like influence from outside. This county in the 20th century attempted to secede from the state and become their own state. I think growing up in a community that was so close-minded I actually went the complete opposite and try in my writing to show the good in all people and the bad in people you wouldn't necessarily believe to be bad. The books I read while growing up showed me there was a world outside of the one that I lived in every day.
5. Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
My current release is a contemporary western. Bridled Heart is about an ER nurse who was a child of incest overcame her father's control and kept herself at a distance from others to remain in control. The hero is a bareback bronc rider who is going for the National title. But he sees the heroine needs a friend and through being her friend they both come to learn something about themselves. The topic sounds dark but it is written with a lot of levity and good friendships through the hero's friends and the heroine's co-workers.
The second book of my spirit trilogy will be out in May. Spirit of the Lake is the story of a Nez Perce spirit who while in the form of an elk lives in Wallowa Lake (a myth of the Nez Perce) and with his siblings, who are also spirits, they oversee the Lake Nimiipuu(Nez Perce). In this book the spirit saves a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and learns she was trying to die because she was not being taken serious about the Whiteman(who claimed to be the Nimiipuu's friend) had raped her and she was with child. Together the spirit and the maiden prove the man's deceit and fall in love.
Right now I am writing the third book in the spirit series. It is Spirit of the Sky and the heroin in the book is the spirit of the sky who watches over the Nimiipuu as a bald eagle. In the book she is trying to keep the Nimiipuu alive and together while the U.S. cavalry is chasing them to make them go to a reservation. She falls in with a battle-weary officer and as they work to find common ground between the army and the Nez Perce they fall in love.
6. How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
Bridled Heart started out as Last Ride but my editor felt it needed something that reflected the story more and we came up with Bridled Heart because the Heroine is reluctant to give her heart to anyone. Spirit of the Mountain, Spirit of the Lake, and Spirit of the Sky are titled for the spirit element in them. They are all paranormal historical.
My historical western series with the Halsey brothers are all titled after male occupations. Marshal in Petticoats was the first book. It has an accident prone young woman who is mistaken for a young man and is given the job of marshal for a small gold mining town by a corrupt mayor. Outlaw in Petticoats is a school teacher and the man who wants to marry her romping about the country trying to discover the truth behind her father's disappearance. Miner in Petticoats has a twice widowed woman with two children trying to run her husband's gold mine and the hero needs a section of her land to build a stamp mill to benefit the mining community. They butt heads and eventually fall in love. Doctor in Petticoats sends an adult male to a blind school after an accident that makes him blind. While there he falls in love with the school doctor and together they discover together they are both strong enough to conquer their fears.
MY EPPIE award winning novel Perfectly Good Nanny is a contemporary western. The title to that came about from dialogue in the book. The twelve-year-old who ordered a nanny via the internet without telling her father and when the nanny arrives this is what she says, “Rayanne said her aunt found a perfectly good man on the internet, so Willie T and I figured we could find us a perfectly good nanny.”
7. Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
See Perfectly Good Nanny above. I was driving home one night from a writer's meeting when on the radio the DJ was talking about a child who used their parent's credit card and ordered a whole bunch of things that the parent's didn’t know about until the packages arrived. That's when I thought what if a child tired of being the parent for a smaller sibling goes online and orders a nanny. I researched, saw it would work, and stuck the family out in the middle of a desolate area in SE Oregon.
8. How much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?
Whether I’m writing a historical or a contemporary story I research to make the character's lives as real as I can. I spent hours researching how the Nez Perce lived in the times I wrote about in my books. The Halsey brother series I researched the gold mining area and the towns I set the stories in. The contemporaries I research occupations I don't know and learn what I can. For Bridled Heart I interviewed four time and reigning world champion bareback rider Bobby Mote and his wife.
The fantasy is the relationships and in the case of the spirit books the spirits.
9. Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Revisions are my nemesis. I like to work on things from the beginning and making something new. I dislike mending pants, sewing on buttons, and the same for writing. Once I've written a story I don't mind tweaking it a little, but I dislike when I have to tear it apart and rework things or add things in.
10. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Learn your craft, have a thick skin because not everyone is going to like what you write and rejection is the norm for all writers, and persistence. If you can't go a couple days without writing then you are a writer. Find the niche for you and perfect your writing. It is always an ongoing learning curve.
11. Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
I am never at a lack for a story to write, but sometimes when I'm writing I come to a stalled spot and usually it's because I’m making the characters do something out of character or a scene that isn't needed. Once I figure that out I’m off and running again.
12. Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
I don't have any one favorite author. I like mysteries so there are several mystery writers I admire. I like several romance authors in various genres, and there are a couple mainstream authors I like. First Marguerite Henry's books and Laura Ingalls Wilder, then the Gothic romances of the 70's, then Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, and Dorothy Gilman, and later Nora Roberts, Lavyrle Spencer, and Linda Lael Miller.
13. How did you deal with rejection letters?
Unless a rejection letter flat out says "what were you thinking?" you can't take it as a slight in any way. There are thousands of manuscripts crossing editors and agents desks a week and they are only going to take the ones that grab their attention. That doesn't mean your book isn't good or worthy of an audience, but everyone has different tastes and you have to just stay persistent and keep sending it out until you find the right match.
Many years I kept the rejections adding them to my huge stack. Then I tossed all the photo-copied ones and kept the ones with lines that said "liked it but" or "loved it but".
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A Thesarsus, a copy of Donald Maass' book Writing the Breakout Novel, Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer, and Debra Dixon's Goal Motivation & Conflict. Two good critique partners, and a writer's group. I've found having two critique partners is good because they both catch different things and a writer's group is so important to keeping your moral up and having people with like minds to discuss writing with. And a good group also has meetings where you learn writing skills and the process of being published.
14. Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
As a child the abominable snowman on Rudolph scared me. I don't watch or read anything scary and while I do like realism in a scene if it has gunplay or knives. I don't go overboard with graphic details though. I've been told my love scenes are sizzling hot. But I don’t think I run into the erotic level.
15. Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
See comments above. Yes. My favorite thing is to find a tidbit that I can put in a story. I love talking to historical society people and gathering local info for the historical books I write. The Nez Perce books I actually made several friends among the Nez Perce and if they couldn’t answer my questions they asked an elder. I use a couple of the Nez Perce legends in the spirit trilogy. And I used the National Rodeo Finals in the book Bridled Heart as well as a rodeo that is held in Arizona.
16. Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
I would say the book I am shopping around to agents right now is my favorite. It is completely out of my usual writing world. But the Spirit trilogy are the books of my heart. I grew up in the Wallowa Valley, the home of the Wallowa Nez Perce. I've always had a fondness for the people and their plight and this set of books is my way of showing their love for the area and how self-centered it was of us to push them out of it.
17. What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
It's not very weird, but for Doctor in Petticoats the hero is blind so I wandered around my house blindfolded for half a day to get the feel of what it would be like to go by your other senses and be in the dark.
18. Where can we find you on the net?
My website is http://www.patyjager.net
My blog is http://www.patyjager.blogspot.com
Facebook: Paty Jager
19. Where can we find out more about your books?