Susan Spence has always been intrigued with life in the west in the 1880s. She researched historical accounts and first-person narratives as she prepared to write A Story of the West. A lifelong resident of the west, she currently lives in Montana on an old sheep shearing station with lots of furry critters and one partially furry critter. This is her first novel, and she is busily working on a sequel due out in late spring.
You can visit her website at www.writing-ranching.com.
Writing my book was, and still is, important to me because it was a huge accomplishment. I also found out that I am capable of telling an interesting story.
What was the experience like writing A Story of the West?
The experience of writing my book was a learning one. There were many lessons involved. Since I had never attempted writing a novel before, I really worked on becoming a better writer in order to effectively tell mystory. I also learned a great deal about myself by pushing myself to complete a novel. The learning continues as I figure out how to promote my book.
Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you?
I don’t even own an alarm clock and since I don’t have a rigid schedule, the time I wake up varies. It depends somewhat on the time I went to bed the night before.Once I’m up, I like to take a walk and then do a crossword to get my brain working. When I sit down at my computer, I usually take care of any immediatebusiness before writing. Some days I go to town, others I stay home all day. Since I live on a ranch, there are things I do around here also. The weather affects my schedule as well, as when it’s nice out, that’s where I prefer to be. Some days I write into the night as the house is quiet at this time and I often stay up until midnight or so writing.
Can you tell us more about Matt Daly?
He is a typical hero in some respects, handsome and chivalrous. On the surface, he is honorable, but at the same time he fought with other ranchers over land that was stolen from the Indians.
What are his strengths and what are his weaknesses?
His strengths and weaknesses are much the same. He doesn’t back down from a fight, but that also creates problems for him.
What about Lavina Lavold? Can you tell us more about her?
Lavina is a young woman looking for adventure. At first life on the frontier is exciting. Soon she finds, as do many women, that the life of a housewife, with no close neighbors, can be filled more with drudgery and loneliness, than fun.
Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?
Kirsten Branson is a woman before her time. She is strong and can ride as well as any man. She is more able to balance being a wife with the more exciting aspects of cattle ranching than other women of her time.
Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?
On page 25, Matt has ridden all the way to town just to buy pepper. It seems odd to travel this far for something so trivial, except his real reason for the trip is to visit with Lavina. They had just met the day before and he wanted to see her again.
What about page 65?
Jeez, you picked another page about Matt’s and Lavina’s romance. He is riding home from visiting her and is planning a letter to her father, asking for her hand in marriage. The book is about a lot more, really.
Now that The Story of the West has been published, what’s your next project?
As I finished A Story of the West, I realized there was more to the story, so I began a sequel. It is set in more recent times and a fourth generation son owns the ranch. Cattle rustling and land grabs are no longer threats, but with the changing times, new challenges appear.
Thanks for this wonderful interview, Susan. Do you have anything you’d like to tell our readers that hasn’t been discussed?
Although A Story of the West is historical fiction, I have found that it appeals to a much wider audience. People seem to connect with the story even though they might not normally read this genre. That has been extremely satisfying to me.