23 August 2009

Guest Author: Christy Hubbard

This week on Unusual Historicals we're welcoming Christy Hubbard, aka C. C. Harrison, as she celebrates the release of her hardcover western historical, SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR.

Women needed guts to live in the Old West and Sage Cane had an abundance. Finding herself penniless and in debt after the death of her father, then abandoned at the altar by a fortune-hunting scoundrel, she headed for Colorado gold country to take possession of the hotel she inherited from her Aunt Hannah "Honey" Wild. When she arrives, she is shocked to discover the hotel is really a bordello called Wild Mountain Honey Pleasure Palace. She announces her decision to close it down, but meets resistance from sexy Sheriff Bridger Norwood who is convinced it has to remain open in order to keep the peace in the rough and tumble mining town.

But Sage wasn't born to let adversity keep her down or men control her destiny.

It was a town of, by and for men with nothing for women. Not a slip of silk or froth of lace could be found anywhere outside the bordello. While the men mined for gold, drank in the saloons, gambled at the card tables, or visited Wild Mountain Honey, the wives were left behind to scrabble together a home in tents, huts and dugouts. That is, until Sage Cane secretly opened a charm school to teach them how to dress for adornment, whisper into a man's ear, and practice the fine art of seduction.

SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR vividly brings to life the hardships and dangers women faced in the rugged frontier towns that catered to men. Secrets are revealed and secrets are kept, but women did what they had to do to survive in this story of a town forced to rise to the standards of its women.

4 STARS! "...marvelous tale...dynamic characters...captivating plot." - RT BOOKREVIEWS

"...a tale well told." - ROMANCE REVIEWS TODAY

"Ms. Hubbard unfolds this story in delicious layers filled with lots of information about life in the Old West...details are sure to please western history buffs...great descriptions and enjoyable characters will take readers on a wonderful trip back in time..." - LOVE WESTERN ROMANCES


Your newest release is quite different from what you usually write. Tell us about it.

SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR just came out, and reader feedback has been terrific. Yes, it is different from the mysteries I usually write. It's an Old West historical romance about a reluctant madam who secretly opens a charm school and teaches the women in town how to keep their husband's home at night. Her goal is to close the bordello and go back home. Lots of complications arise including one very sexy sheriff. I love the Old West and the whole cowboy thing.

And I couldn't help myself. I put a little mystery in it.

Why did you decide to write in a different genre?

I grew up in Michigan but always loved reading about the Old West. The character and the story came to me over a period of years, and I actually abandoned the book three times because everyone said Old West wasn't selling. But cowboys are my weakness and westerns are my secret guilty pleasure. I started writing the book in Colorado, finished it in Arizona and it sold right away.

Why the pseudonym?

I decided to use a pseudonym because I didn't want my real name all over the Internet, and my reason for that would make a good plot for a suspense novel (which I will write some day.) I write mysteries under C. C. Harrison, and Old West historicals under Christy Hubbard. The down side of using a pseudonym is that friends and family don't know what to call you in public.

Can you describe your writing process?

Oh, I'm a plotter, compulsively so! I need to know where I'm going. I don't even leave my house without a map, and if I'm going over 100 miles, I need a Triptik!

A story idea will churn around in my head for quite a while, sometimes months, before I put anything on paper. I do lots of research, take lots of notes, set up files and a Work-in-Progress notebook. After that, I begin character development and plotting, write a chronological working outline, maybe some rough scenes, snatches of dialogue. I always know where I'm going before I start, but don't mind surprises and detours along the way.

On my last book, I tried something new. I wrote all the plot points and turning points on 5"x7" file cards, and then sorted and numbered them in order of occurrence in the story. That way, I always knew what was supposed to happen next. I don't believe there is any such thing as writer's block. Writer's block is really lack of planning.

And I must say, both the story and the plot of SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR were channeled to me. I must have lived a previous life in the Old West.

What part of writing do you like best?

I really enjoy starting--the plotting and character development, and I love final revision. I revise as I go, so when I'm done I pretty much have a final draft.

That said, there is no ONE way to write a book. There are many ways to write a book. That's one thing I wish I'd known earlier to save time and frustration in the writing business.

Do you think an author is born or made?

Good question and one I've spent a little time thinking about. I used to say that ANYBODY could write a book; it just took discipline and a computer. Now I don't believe that's true. It does take a certain amount of discipline and focus, but more important is imagination, and the ability to see things that don't exist and describe them with words on paper so that others can see them too. Not everyone can do that.

Are there any takeaway messages in your books?

As a famous movie director once said--If you want to send a message, use Western Union.

So, no particular message, but I like to write stories that show strong, self-confident women getting themselves out of dilemmas. I like female characters who, even though they may be flawed and make mistakes and bad decisions, don't squeal and run away at the first sign of trouble. They pursue their story goal inexorably despite obstacles and setbacks; they check out those creepy noises in the shadowy barn or up in the dark attic. Even though they're afraid, they do it anyway. To me, that's courage.

I was greatly influenced by Scarlett O'Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND. She was a relentless, take-charge survivor. Also, in all my stories, I always seem to have a character caring for a child that isn't theirs.

What else are you working on?

I've just finished a follow up to my first book THE CHARMSTONE called A SECRET WORTH KILLING FOR. This book is also set in Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation about a journalist searching for people in a fifty year old photograph. The mystery evolves from what happened to those people some of whom are still alive and some of whom have disappeared mysteriously. The National Archives was extremely helpful with the historical aspects of this story.

Currently, I'm working on a Golden Gate Bridge mystery series set in San Francisco. The first book takes place in an old monastery on Mt. Tamalpais where five nuns have been brutally murdered. Plenty of history and secrets from the past in this book, too. You can read more about my books here.

Thanks for having me!


Thank you, Christy, for stopping by! Christy is being very generous in offering a free hardcover copy of SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR to one lucky Unusual Historicals read. Just leave a comment or question for your chance to win. I'll draw a winner at random next week. Good luck!