by Beth Andrews
Yay! Stacey Kayne is back in the Lair! Please join us in giving her a rowdy Bandit welcome!
Your new release, Mountain Wild, is the third book in your Wild Trilogy for Harlequin Historicals. Could you tell us a bit about Mountain Wild and give us some background on this fabulous series?
Garret Daines first appeared in Mustang Wild at the tender age of thirteen and did his best to defend his older sister Skylar from hired killers and drunken, randy cowboys. Garret is thrilled when Skylar ultimately marries Tucker Morgan and they settle on a horse ranch in Wyoming, along with Tucker’s twin brother Chance.
Maverick Wild kicks off three years later and Garret has packed on some muscle. He develops a serious crush on Chance Morgan’s heroine, Cora Mae, which causes him some heartache, hurting his friendship with Chance and prompting his decision to buy his own cattle ranch in a neighboring valley at the age of sixteen. Garret's to-be-heroine makes her first appearance in Maverick Wild, as the infamous Mad Mag who drops in to save Chance Morgan's hide a time or two. It wasn't until I'd reached the end of Maverick Wild that I knew Maggie would be coming back for her own book. She captivated me with her harsh exterior and subtle kindness, and I wanted her to find love and healing. I knew tender Garret, whom I'd watched grow up, could become just the man to reach beneath that hard exterior.
The whole cast returns in Mountain Wild, picking up six years later and follows the cattle wars of 1889, prompted by a natural disaster during the winter of 1886-87. A freak winter blizzard nearly wiped out the cattle trade in Montana, freezing cowboys and cattle alike. In the years that followed, ranchers struggled to rebuild and hold onto their land as new money came into the area looking to capitalize on their tragedy, and as often happens, desperation and greed turned to violence. Garret and Maggie find themselves caught up the turmoil, fighting for their lives, and Maggie finds herself facing trouble from her own violent past.
Mad Mag is one of my favourite heroines ever (no, I’m not biased). She is such a wonderful, unusual heroine. How did you create her?
Aw, thanks! And wow, good question. Where did Mad Mag come from...funny thing about Maggie is that she was actually a stray character running around in my mind for a long while — I don’t get many of those. But if a visual is strong enough, I’ll sketch a character out on paper, writing the scene in my mind, which was her meeting with Ira, the trapper who saved her. At the time, I didn’t know what book she’d go in or how she’d be used. When I started writing Maverick Wild I saw an opportunity to give Chance an ally and gave Mag some brief ties to Chance’s history. I knew from the start that Mad Mag wasn’t what she appeared, but I didn’t realize how large Mad Mag’s role would grow in my mind. Anyone who reads my work knows I have a penchant for odd, feisty female characters, and by the end of Maverick Wild I was left with two hurting characters, brave as their faces may have been, and I wanted to see them healed — I couldn’t abandon my mountain woman.
How hard was it to write a romance featuring such an atypical heroine? What were some of the issues you faced?
First off, I had to convince my editors that I could pull it off. Their first reaction was NO WAY! I took them by surprise — think I scared them *g*. Maggie was an unexpected and odd choice of heroine in their view and I had to really plead my case and play stubborn. Once I sent them some sample chapters I got the go ahead to send the book ASAP. I knew Maggie inside and out and didn’t have any doubt I could reveal her inner heroine, but I did have my some worries about her reception by readers. I mean, just because I’m partial to wild, raving heroines doesn’t mean readers agree. Here’s hoping my mountain woman will win everyone over!
I’ve adored Garret since the beginning. What makes him the perfect hero for Maggie? And her, the perfect heroine for him?
For me, there was no question that Garret, with his easy smiles and gentle touch, was the only man who could reach beneath Maggie’s gruff exterior to the tender woman beneath. Not only because of his disarming and gentle nature, but also his experience of living with feisty, headstrong women. He was raised by Skylar Daines Morgan (Mustang Wild), after all, an unconventional headstrong heroine if there ever was. He loves and admires his older sister more than anyone - until he finds his own wild woman to cherish. His upbringing gave him a strong understanding of how circumstance plays a part in dictating behaviour. He knows what it’s like to live on the edge of survival. Part of Maggie will always be Mad Mag, and not only can Garret understand her, he can respect and accept her differences.
What was your favorite part about writing this book? What was the most difficult part for you?
The best part was getting to play with recurring characters - characters I already knew and loved. The hardest part, hands down, was letting Garret grow up. It was a huge hang up in the beginning - I wrote eight different starts to this book before I finally found the right one that revealed Garret as the man he needed to be. He’s my baby, the first character I’ve really brought up from such a youngen’ to a full-fledge hero.
What's your favorite thing Garret said to Mag in Mountain Wild?
Oh gosh, a favorite? Garret never failed to make my heart flutter, hard to choose just one — here’s a snippet shortly after he learns the women who saved is life is none other than Mad Mag:
She looked up at Garret’s handsome face. His smile gentle, his hazel eyes seeming so disarming, she wondered where taking his hand would lead. The fact that he could still look at her with affection in his eyes truly amazed her.
“Why aren’t you put off by me?”
“Why should I be?”
She could only glance down.
“A bit of buckskin don’t hide the fact that you’re pretty as a magpie. I’ve also seen you wearing nothing but a smile while I kissed every inch of soft skin hidden beneath those clothes.”
Heat rushed to her face. “How improper of you to say so.”
Garret chuckled. “Propriety has never carried much weight in the Daines family. Hard work and honesty, now those are qualities to live by.”
She’d noticed that about him.
“I can also be a gentleman,” he said, stepping close and capturing her hand in his. “If I try real hard.”
Her skin tingled at the sudden contact, the jolt of sensation taking the air from her lungs, but she didn’t pull away.
Stacey, if you were stranded in a mountain cabin during a winter storm, which of your heroes would you pick to be stranded with you and why?
Tucker Morgan from Mustang Wild, because I know I’d be laughing the whole time. Tucker charmed me the first time I saw him in my mind, lounging at a poker table, a slanted grin on those lips. Sexy, playful, strong and loyal...he is still my favorite of all my heroes. I loved his outlook on life, a man who’s out to have a good time and still get the job done. He can be a total beta, but if he’s threatened, look out - he has serious alpha overtones.
If you had to pick one characteristic to describe Garret, what would it be? How about Mag?
Garret, loyal. Maggie, resilient.
Can you give us a taste of what we’ll enjoy in Mountain Wild?
In the midst of a range war, Garret Daines is dead-set on keeping his ranch from greedy local cattle barons. An attempt on his life during a winter storm lands him in the healing hands of a mountain recluse. He can hardly believe the youthful beauty he discovers hidden beneath her mountain woman attire or the passion unleashed by her tender touch.
When "Mad Mag" pulls the handsome rancher from the snow she has no idea he'll be the man to thaw her wounded heart. But Maggie is hiding a mess of secrets in her mountain sanctuary, none of which she’s willing to share. Murderous cattlemen threaten their fragile bond and Maggie has to face the fears of her past or risk losing her hope for the future. Garret will defend his wild woman at any cost, but can he convince her their love is worth the risk?
Here’s my first book video!
You’ve also got an anthology out at the moment – Stetsons, Spring and Wedding Rings. Can you tell us about your novella, Courted By the Cowboy?
Stetsons, Spring & Wedding Rings was just released in June. My contribution, Courted By the Cowboy is a continuation of my ‘Bride’ series. The hero, Kyle Darby is another who first appeared in the first ‘Bride’ book, Bride of Shadow Canyon. He plays a large in The Gunslinger’s Untamed Bride as a US Marshall helping his cousin bring in the bad guys...and flirting with Juniper’s heroine. Juniper gets him back in Courted By the Cowboy, not taking it easy on him when a woman Kyle had saved from a house fire shows up in their new town of Pine Ridge as the newly hired schoolteacher. Here’s a quick blurb:
Constance Pauley becomes enamored with the man who once saved her life — then discovers the dashing Kyle Darby had inadvertently caused her injuries all those years ago. Now she can’t forgive the way he has stolen her heart, and how easily she wants to become his bride...
What can we expect next from Stacey Kayne?
I’m working on a new western series. I was sad to let go of the Morgans, but I’ve been having a blast whipping up a whole new cast of characters, this time venturing into the wilds of Montana in 1867, at the onset of the Sioux wars. I’ve been working on the first two books in the series and am hoping it will be out in 2010...providing I can get my can in gear and get this baby finished and turned in...soon.
You'd better hurry - all your readers can't wait for the next Stacey Kayne masterpiece ;-) Visit Stacey's website for more information on all her books: www.staceykayne.com
Thanks for being with us today, Stacey! And now a few questions for our readers: If you were stranded in a mountain cabin during a winter storm, who would you want with you? What three items would you want to have with you?