Catherine Bilson is a native Welsh woman.
Born in North Wales in a house for which the foundations were originally laid in the 14th century, her interest in history was probably inevitable, but she despised the 20th century geopolitics which passed for history at school.
Instead, she devoured every historical novel she could lay her hands on, and found her greatest joy in the clever social commentary and witty repartee of Jane Austen.
She married an Australian and moved to Queensland in 2001, far from the history she had grown up with, and it was then she started to write historical romance. She has several Austen tribute works available as well as two original Regency romances, An Earl for Ellen and A Marquis for Marianne. Coming from California is her first pioneer romance.
Q. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
The only one I can specifically think of is going to visit Lyme Park in Cheshire, when I still lived in the UK, after learning it was ‘Pemberley’ in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, my gateway drug to Regency romance! Lyme Park is just as stunning as it looks on screen, too.
Q. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
90% of the time, energizes. When I’m on deadline or struggling through a difficult scene and the words aren’t flowing, every word is exhausting, though.
Q. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Too many stories! I confess to getting easily distracted by ‘shiny’ new ideas which come to me in the middle of the night. After forgetting a few over the years, I now make time to sit down and take notes to get down the major points of the idea, but I can get absorbed into the new world and abandon what I really SHOULD be working on until I’m forced to get back to it by deadline pressure. I have more unfinished stories and half-fleshed out ideas than I could comfortably write in three lifetimes.
Q. How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
As an author, I don’t think we have any right to demand anything from readers. Their attention is a gift. Something I wish was more prevalent in mainstream fiction was trigger warnings, actually; coming from the world of fanfiction where trigger warnings are de rigeur, I’m always horrified when as a reader I run across something in a book I really think could be triggering for some readers, and I always try to mention those things in reviews.
Coming from California is set in the 1870s in a fictional silver mining town in Nevada. My heroine, Daisy, has just arrived in town, having been awarded the position as schoolteacher for the new school. Desperate to make a good impression, one of the first people she lays eyes on is cowboy Luke Rockford.
“You can chase skirt once we’ve gotten these cattle delivered!” Jack Hollis yelled.
Luke Rockford laughed deeply at his best friend’s insinuation. He didn’t think the beautiful young woman who’d stood at the window was the kind of ‘skirt’ who’d take well to being chased. Especially considering the expression of outrage she’d worn when he’d called out to her.
“You’re the one with a pretty lass in Rattlesnake Ridge,” Luke shouted back and had the satisfaction of seeing Jack flush red under his tan.
“She’s not my lass! And you’d best keep a respectful tongue in your head when you speak of Mrs. Jones!”
“Not your lass, but there’s only one name that jumps to mind,” Luke teased, glancing at the window where he’d seen the beautiful stranger. He wondered idly what the woman’s name was and what she was doing in Rattlesnake Ridge; he figured he’d have plenty of time to find out.
Maybe she was one of those mail-order brides Jacob Winthrop had said he planned to advertise for. In which case, she definitely wasn’t intended for the likes of Luke. He hadn’t put his name down on the list Winthrop had passed around. A man had to have a house of his own and a steady job to even be considered. Luke Rockford didn’t qualify.
Jack cracked his whip again, ignoring Luke’s comment. They’d just spent twelve days on a trail together with nothing but their horses and a hundred and sixty head of cattle for company. They were starting to get on each other’s nerves. “Come on, let’s get these cattle to the yards and pick up our pay!”
Luke chuckled under his breath, but he let the subject drop. He’d have plenty of opportunities later to tease Jack about his infatuation for the lovely widow.
Half an hour later, the two men rode back the other way, laughing and talking. They were headed to Garrett’s Bank to pick up their pay. Then they both planned to wash, eat, and head for Dobson’s Saloon. Whiskey beckoned to wash the dust of the trail from their mouths.
He did find himself peeking at the boarding house window as they passed by, wondering who the young beauty with the long dark hair was. He’d find out her name tonight, find out if she was as far out of his league as he feared. He wasn’t getting any younger, and the thought of settling down somewhere with a good woman was beginning to sound more appealing by the day.
Almost as though his thoughts had summoned her, the young woman appeared at the window again, shaking out… was that a petticoat? Luke’s grin spread. “Looking for me, darling?” he called up to her. “Love the show.”
“Ohhh!” Her outraged gasp was audible as she retreated inside and slammed the window.
Jack’s laughter joined Luke’s this time. “You’re never gonna have a chance with her if you keep insultin’ her like that,” Jack chuckled as they dismounted in front of the bank, one of the four buildings on the crossroads, and hitched their horses.
“Prob’ly don’t have a chance with her anyways,” Luke replied with a shrug and a grin. “That outrage sure was purty, though.”
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Thank you for being our guest Catherine and we look forward to this great read!