We’re glad you could make it back to Duck Chat!
Beth Williamson is our guest today. Can you say cowboys? Sexy cowboys? I bet you can!
With more than twenty books on her backlist, Beth has become synonymous with western romance, but did you know she also writes contemporary erotica? A few of those have a western flare, but others like On His Knees and her The Perfect Score series don’t. But it’s her Mallory family and her Devils on Horseback series that her fans clamor for. And her latest western releases, Hell for Leather, The Education of Madeline, and The Redemption of Micah are also fan favorites.
Beth was born and raised in New York but know lives with her husband and their two sons just outside Raleigh, North Carolina. She will be popping in and out today, so leave a meaningful comment or question for Beth. She’s graciously offered a copy of The Education of Madeline for a giveaway, so you want to make sure you’re in the running! So let’s chat!
DUCK CHAT: Beth, what was it that first drew to you the western genre of writing romance?
BETH WILLIAMSON: Well, I grew up watching Westerns, child of the 70s with the fantastic Clint Eastwood movies that my oldest brother loved to watch. So I did too and I became fascinated with westerns. Then when I started reading romance as a young teenager, I loved the historicals the best. When I found western romances, that was when everything clicked for me. Aha!
DC: If you could retire any question and never, ever have it asked again, what would it be? Feel free to answer it.
BW: Hm, probably, where do you get your ideas from? That’s a common question in most interviews. I never know how to answer it because there is never a single answer. LOL.
DC: Let’s talk about your Malloy family series first. How did this series come about? Has it evolved as you thought it would after completing the first book? Would you give us an overview of the series as a whole?
BW: Ah, the Malloys. My second family. I started writing The Bounty about fourteen years ago and it took me about eight years to get a version written well enough to be published. I didn’t know then I’d be writing seven books in the series, but as soon as I’d written the second, The Prize, I knew then that I needed to write much more. The only Malloy without a full-length book is Ethan, the second oldest.
The series as a whole contains seven books. It begins with the only girl in the family, Nicky, then ends with Nicky’s adopted son, Noah. The books include, in order:
Hero: Tyler Calhoun
Heroine: Nicky Malloy
Hero: Jack Malloy
Heroine: Rebecca Connor
Hero: Malcolm Ross y Zarza
Heroine: Leigh Wynne
Hero: Raymond Malloy
Heroine: Lillian Wickham
Hero: Trevor Malloy
Heroine: Adelaide Burns
Hero: Brett Malloy
Heroine: Alexandra Brighton
Hero: Noah Calhoun
Heroine: Rosalyn Benedict
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions, or dialogue flows from some unknown place. Is it the same with you? Do your characters surprise you sometimes?
BW: Oh, absolutely true. My imagination seems to be a separate entity from my brain. Scary sounding, isn’t it? LOL. You see, the characters take on a life of their own and will fight me tooth and nail if I try to force them into how I plotted the book. I can tell immediately if I’m doing it wrong because the words simply don’t flow. I will creep along in a scene and that’s when I stop what I’m doing, back up, and turn left to where the characters are waiting for me.
DC: The last book released in the series was The Legacy in April of 2008. Are there any more books planned at this point in time? Do you know how many books will be in the series once it’s complete?
BW: At this point I don’t have any more books planned, but I’ve been asked if Ethan will get his story told, or if I’ll do the second generation Malloy series. Like many of my readers, I love series and I understand not wanting to let go of characters who have become like family to you. I did write a free story at Christmas time for Ethan called The Present. I left it kind of wide open for another book, so perhaps…
DC: Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?
BW: Haha, who told you? Yes, I do argue with my characters. It’s the pushy ones who think they can boss me around. Unfortunately usually they win because I can’t keep writing unless I give in.
DC: Your Devils on Horseback series is also popular with readers. Can you tell us a little about this series?
BW: Oh, my Devils. It’s a series of five planned books centering around five men, Civil War veterans from Georgia, who struggle to find their place in post-war Texas. Each of them has their own unique emotional or physical (or both) issue to overcome. This series is grittier, bloodier, more violent, and an emotional roller coaster for the reader (and the writer!).
DC: What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?
BW: My husband. 😉 A book or a good movie. I am a movie whore in addition to being a book whore. *sigh* I can’t help it!
DC: So far we’ve seen Nate, Jake, and Zeke. Any more Devils in the future?
BW: Yes, there sure is. I’m in the middle of editing Lee’s story before submitting it to Samhain for publication. Lee’s book has been the most difficult because he’s not only the angriest devil, he also has only one arm. Then the last book will be Gideon’s — he’s the caretaker for the group and, of course, he will be last to receive his happily ever after.
DC: How do you feel your male or female characters have evolved over your career? Do you think you write them differently now than you did when you started?
BW: I don’t know if it’s specific to the characters, but my writing has definitely evolved over the years. I think I’ve honed my writing with each book, and I’ll continue to do so the rest of my life. I think that’s true of any artist in whatever medium they choose to create something in. I have tackled some tough issues in my more recent books, such as being homeless, disabled, or an alcoholic.
DC: Tell our readers about The Perfect Score series, please.
BW: That was simply fun to write. It’s a three-novella series written for Loose Id — one is an interracial (heroine is white, hero is Japanese), one is a BBW, and the other is an F/F. They were all different, and the interracial was my first, whereas the F/F was by far the most challenging. They are erotic, really hot and still emotional. I think one of my best gifts is the characters and their emotions — just because I write erotica doesn’t mean there’s no romance or emotions.
DC: Is there a genre you haven’t tackled but would like to try?
BW: Yes, I’d love to write a Medieval. Oh, those knights! My second favorite genre is Medievals and the only thing holding me back (aside from time!) is the research involved. I’ve become adept at writing historical westerns and have my resources lined up. Medievals are an entirely different ballgame, but one day, I will write my knight!
DC: Your two latest single titles are The Education of Madeline, which released in March of this year, and The Redemption of Micah, which hit the shelves just a couple of weeks ago. First, are the books related in any way at all? Would you tell us a little about each of them?
BW: Yes, they are related. There are three books in the series and these are the first two. Madeline’s story is a BBW about an intelligent, wealthy woman in 1872 Colorado who has spent her life in a small town, without a man, without love. She hires our hero, Teague, to teach her what it means to be a woman and, in the process, finds herself and her strength. Teague, on the other hand, recovers his soul and loses his heart to Maddie.
Micah’s story picks up where Madeline’s ends — he’s her friend and the lover of her best friend, Eppie, who is left in a coma at the end of Madeline’s story. Micah’s story is three years later when Eppie finally awakens from the coma to discover a sad-eyed man and a three-year-old daughter she doesn’t know. It’s got a ton of emotion, an interracial love between a mulatto and a white southern man, alcoholism, and some hot sex too. This is a highly gut-wrenching novel requiring at least a dozen tissues to get through.
Special treat! Excerpt from The Redemption of Micah:
Eppie had just gotten herself settled in the chair when she heard the crash and the girl screaming. She jumped up with more energy than she thought she had and darted out the door. The sheer size of the house made her eyes goggle and she wondered if he’d been telling more truth than she realized.
She spotted him at the bottom of the steps, the tray of foot scattered around him. The girl sat beside him smacking his cheek.
“Daddy, wake up.”
Eppie made her way down the stairs, clutching the thick mahoghany banister. When she made it to the bottom, the little girl looked up at her with tears in her eyes.
“I’m not sure, honey.” Eppie’s fear was that he’d died before she figured out if he was telling the truth, or worse, that he was truthful and didn’t get a chance to tell her everything about herself. She’d be trapped in a house she didn’t know with a child she didn’t know in a town that was as unfamiliar as the people around her.
She knelt down and put her hand on his chest, and felt the steady beat of his heart. A breath of relief whooshed out of her. He must have just knocked himself unconscious when he fell. She didn’t think she knew much about being a doctor, but she did feel for any broken bones and was glad to find none.
“He bumped his head and went to sleep.”
Instead of reassuring the girl, she started screaming and shaking Micah by the shoulders. “No, Daddy, wake up!”
Eppie didn’t know what to do to calm the girl down. Her reaction made no sense.
“He’ll wake up in a minute or two. Why don’t you get a pillow for his head?”
The girl sobbed even louder but she nodded her head and stuck her doll under his neck. The sight made Eppie want to laugh, but she swallowed the chuckle. She started picking up the broken plate and the pieces of biscuits. Without being asked, Miracle helped clean up even as she continued to cry.
Eppie didn’t know if that was common for her, but she knew it was unusual for a girl that age to have such a sense of responsibility. After they’d picked up the mess, Micah still hadn’t roused. Eppie wasn’t really worried, but she was getting concerned.
“Where is the kitchen?”
The girl pointed to room down the hall.
“Can you go get a glass of water for your daddy?”
“Why?” Precocious little thing.
“To help him wake up.”
The child looked at her as if she’d sprouted horns, but went to the kitchen just the same, frowning fiercely and crying all the way. It gave Eppie an opportunity to study Micah up close without feeling self-conscious about it. She could see the resemblance between he and the girl, a glimmer of his cheekbones and chin. The hair, of course, was identical.
He had a terrible scar that ran from his jaw line down his neck. It was deep and made by something sharp. He had a whisper of whiskers on his cheeks, and shadows permanently etched below his eyes. There were very light brown baby hairs around his hairline. Without even thinking about it, she reached out to brush the hair from his forehead.
Miracle’s stern admonishment made her heart skip a beat. Eppie turned around and managed a small smile.
“I was making sure he was okay.”
The doubtful expression didn’t leave her little face. She thrust the cup of water forward, splashing some on both of them.
“Thank you, Miracle.” Eppie’s stomach was jumping around like crazy, but she put her hand behind his neck and trickled water into his mouth. He swallowed, thankfully, then he sighed, the smell of lemon tickling her nose.
His eyelashes fluttered and her relief knew no bounds when those silver orbs peeped up at her.
“You fell down the stairs and knocked yourself silly.” She set the glass down and let his head back down onto the doll.
“I did? Oh damn, the water, I forgot.” His eyes widened. “Is Miracle okay?”
“She’s fine. A little upset.” An understatement, but she didn’t want to scare him.
“I here, Daddy.” She inserted herself between them, the warmth of her little body seeped into Eppie’s. It startled her and she shifted back to escape from the sensation. She definitely wasn’t ready to be physically close to anyone, much less a child calling her “Mama”.
“Thank God.” Micah took Eppie’s hand in his. “You have my gratitude.”
She wanted to snatch her hand away, but at the same time, his dry slender hand felt comfortable in hers. A shiver ran up her spine at the thought.
“It’s not hard to be kind to people in need.” She managed to extract her hand and sat back on the step above him. “Do you think you can get up?”
He frowned and shifted, wincing as he did. “I think so, but it’s going to take me a few minutes. I think I bruised my back.”
Although she didn’t want to touch him, she helped him to his feet. Even if her head and her heart didn’t remember him, it appeared her body did. She wasn’t sure if it was just being close, his scent or something else entirely. Whatever it was, as soon as her arm went around his waist, her body warmed to his and heat flowed between them.
To her astonishment, even her nipples hardened. She hoped to God he didn’t feel those against his side. She’d be absolutely mortified if he did. It was hard enough to forget everybody she knew, but to have no control over her body made it even worse.
“I help.” Miracle jumped around the other side of her father and together they steadied him.
“Where is your room?”
“Upstairs next to Miracle’s. It’s the largest room in the house and Madeline insisted on me taking it.” He smiled sadly. “I think perhaps she thought you and I might use it together.”
Eppie wanted to let him fall on his head for trying to manipulate her. He had to understand she didn’t forget him on purpose. She’d give anything to remember one shred of who she was. If he kept pushing her, eventually she would shut the door on any possibility of a relationship with him. One thing she did know about herself is she didn’t like to be forced into decisions.
She’d been doing a lot of thinking since she’d woken up. There were a lot of decisions to make and she wasn’t done making them. Micah would just have to be patient.
Somehow they made it up the stairs and none of them fell back down. Micah straightened and took hold of the banister and Eppie let him go. Her body yelled at her to grab him again but she listened her head instead and crossed her arms, stepping away.
“Thank you.” He took a shaky breath. “I’ll be okay. I’m going to splash some water on my face.” He laughed. “Although I might have had enough water for the day.”
Eppie couldn’t help the smile that escaped. His charm was a surprise. “I’ll be in, well, in my room I suppose.” She ducked away and escaped before he could call her back.
She leaned against the door and pressed a hand to her chest, trying to will her heart to slow down the blood as it raced through her. Since she didn’t even feel comfortable being in the house with him, it made no sense that she tingled just being next to Micah.
Winded and exhausted from too much so fast, she climbed into bed and pulled up the quilt. Within minutes, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
DC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
BW: Hindsight is 20-20, right? That’s a damn true statement. My advice to my younger self is to not wait until I was 36 years old to get published. LOL. I’ve got author friends who are still teenagers getting published. When I think about how much time I hemmed and hawed about submitting to a publisher. Time wasted!
DC: You’ve also started a new contemporary erotic series, Private Lives. Can you let us know where the idea for the series came from? And then tell us about the first book, On His Knees, which was published in May.
BW: The idea came from being a married, forty-something woman in the prime of my life and still learning who I am and what I like. There is a lot of erotica centered around single women, usually twenty-something, and I wanted to do something different for those of us who live in the real world. And thus, Private Lives was born.
On His Knees is a story about a BBW who is newly divorced and has spent the last year discovering just how strong she is. When her ex-husband literally falls at her feet, she decides to demonstrate for him just who she’s become. Lots of really hot sex, female domination, and, of course, emotions.
DC: If you were a book, what would your blurb be?
BW: I love this question! Hm, let’s see — “Strap yourselves in and hang on because the ride’s gonna be bumpy and a little crazy.”
DC: What would be your “voice’s” tagline?
BW: My voice? Oh that little thing that talks to me all the time. How about: “Secrets, sex and passion all rolled into one.”
DC: The Stranger’s Secrets is a book set for release in January 2010. Is it possible to give us a sneak peek? Please?
BW: Ah, yes, book 3 in my Brava series. The Stranger’s Secrets is Sarah Spalding’s story — sister to Micah. She is my first disabled heroine and walks with a cane. Sarah is also outspoken, intelligent, and stubborn as hell. She embarks on a journey from Virginia to Colorado on a train with a northerner, Whitman Kendrick, who has his own secrets he’s keeping from Sarah. Somewhere along the way they fall in love and come to terms with the secrets between them.
DC: If you had never become an author, what do you think you would be doing right now?
BW: Laundry. Wait, no, that’s what I’m doing right now and I am an author. My day job is as a technical writer, so even if I hadn’t made the plunge to write books, I’d probably still be a tech writer. It does still pay the mortgage.
DC: Who’s your favorite author?
BW: Oh, unfair question! I would say the author I’ve learned the most from is Stephen King. The author who introduced me to the western romance genre is Elizabeth Lowell. I have too many other favorites to pick one!
DC: What’s on the horizon for Beth Williamson?
BW: Beth is going to continue writing for Samhain and love every second of it. Emma Lang will begin publishing for Kensington in April 2010 as Beth’s alternate pen name. Emma will write hot western romances and start things with a bang with a runaway Mormon scientist and the assassin sent to kill her sister in 1872 Utah.
– dark or milk chocolate? – milk
– smooth or chunky peanut butter? – smooth
– heels or flats? – flats
– coffee or tea? – coffee
– summer or winter? – summer
– mountains or beach? – beach
– mustard or mayonnaise? – mustard
– flowers or candy? – flowers
– pockets or purse? – Purse (I am a total purse whore)
– Pepsi or Coke? – Diet coke!
– ebook or print? – Either! (I am a total book whore too!)
And because we still like them:
1. What is your favorite word? – Passion.
2. What is your least favorite word? – Colonoscopy.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Hot, sweet sex full of emotion.
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Selfish assholes.
5. What sound or noise do you love? – The sound of the ocean.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? – Car alarms.
7. What is your favorite curse word? – Bullshit.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – I’m living my dream now! But perhaps I’d like to be a millionaire.
9. What profession would you not like to do? – Crab fisherman in the Bering Sea.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Howdy, I’m glad you’re here.”
DC: Beth, thanks so much for chatting with us today!