18 January 2009

Guest Blogger: Elaine Levine

This week we welcome Kensington author Elaine Levine as she celebrates the release of her debut release, RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN. Here's the blurb:


Running from a brutal past to the father she's never met, Rachel Douglas must rely on the survival skills of the hard-edged gunman her father sends to guide her across the rugged terrain of the Dakota Territory. But Sager's got another plan...and a blood debt to settle.

Time doesn't always heal all wounds. Sometimes it takes a little vengeance.

Hi, Elaine! Tell us why you choose to write historical westerns.

Hi Carrie! Thanks for having me here today! As for westerns, they're a fun sub-genre. I'm very pleased to see their reemerging popularity. They are archetypal stories of good versus evil, a battle I like to see waged within my character's own souls as they become aware of themselves and what they want in life.

I especially like the contrasts that are built into the fabric of a western story. Towns can be new and dying. Men can be rough and sweet. Women can be tough and feminine. There's so much emotion available to an author in a western that it's a limitless canvas.

How would you describe your heroine, Rachel?

There's a lot of discussion in the industry about power heroines--women who are warriors or leaders in their fields of expertise. The sky's the limit as far as the roles they can play in the world of romance fiction. I'm proud of that--it shows how far the genre has grown and mirrors the lives women lead in the world today. But sometimes women have a quieter role in life--that of just surviving it, with honor and dignity. In RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN, Rachel is afraid of almost everything. Yet, with Sager's help, she learns not only how to survive, but how to thrive. It's a very personal journey for her.

Some authors' style their lead characters after celebrities. Is that something you do? And if so, who were your fantasy leads?

I love doing that! It truly helps me envision my characters. So here are my inspirational pics. The first is my model for Sager, singer Jake Owen, and the second is my model for Rachel, actress Sophia Myles.

When did you first become interested in being a writer? Do you write fulltime?

When my middle sister and I were in grade school, we used to write stories at night by flashlight as we made up fantasies about Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy. What heartthrobs! But I didn't seriously think about writing until I was in college. I hit a stretch of time when my school funding had dried up. I was looking at an extended absence and was worried I'd forget how to put a sentence together. I considered keeping a journal to maintain my writing skills, but that was too boring. So I started a historical romance--a long, torturous, awful story that took seven years to write and a minute to trash a decade later.

To pay for my writing addiction, I've built a career developing custom business software in the Lotus Notes platform. I've been fortunate to have some challenging projects and wonderful customers. My current client is so excited about my novels that he's asked have a bit part in my current work-in-progress as the Deputy U.S. Marshal in Cheyenne. Doesn't get better than that!

What are you reading right now, and who are your favorite authors?

I have books open all over the house. What I'm reading depends largely on which room I'm in. Currently, I'm devouring a stack of Louis L'Amour's westerns (nightstand). I have Angela Knight's Master of Swords on my elliptical (she's a great author to read while exercising). The Kiss by Sophia Nash is waiting for me in my living room. I have too many other favorite authors to name them all, but a few of them are Anna Campbell, Joan Johnston, Kristen Hannah, Catherine Anderson, Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Bach, Kenneth Roberts...so many others!

What other books are you working on?

I've just turned in the second book in my "Men of Defiance" series, tentatively titled AUDREY AND THE VIRGINIAN. I'm hard at work on the third...LEAH AND THE AVENGER. I love the characters in these stories. They are fierce and protective, vulnerable and brave. Their unique personalities and quirks always surprise me. They seem so real that it's almost as if they dictate their stories to me--I'm just the fingers on the keyboard.


Quotes & Reviews

"Elaine Levine is a wonderfully fresh and original voice in western romance. RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN is full of fast-paced action and powerful emotions. I loved it!" -- Joan Johnston, New York Times bestselling author of A STRANGER'S GAME

"First-time author Levine draws on classic western themes and a rugged backdrop like a veteran of the genre. Her realistic characters leap from the pages yet never supersede the emotionally charged romance. The western is alive and well with authors like Levine." --Kathe Robin, Four Stars from Romantic Times


Thanks for stopping by today, Elaine!

To celebrate her new book, Elaine is giving away a t-shirt with her book cover on it to one lucky reader who leaves a comment. If the drawing winner sends Elaine a digital picture of herself wearing the tee that Elaine can post on her MySpace, she'll receive an autographed copy of RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN!

And if you haven't yet, subscribe to the Colorado Romance Writers' free newsletter for news of Elaine's activities and those of all the published authors at Colorado Romance Writers!