4 October 2010

Please Welcome Caroline Clemmons today.

Hello Caroline. Thank you for joining us here today.

Thank you so much for having me, Sherry.

1. Who or what was the greatest influence in your childhood?
My parents, especially my mom. I was a very puny kid and doctors kept telling my parents I had too many things against me to live. My mom was determined I would survive, and she is the reason I did. Also, my dad moved from a lucrative (for us) job to start over so I’d have a chance. It was very hard on him, and I’m grateful to both my parents for their sacrifices on my behalf.

2. Can you remember the first book you ever read and how it made you feel?
The first thing I remember reading alone was the funny papers. My dad felt schools weren’t teaching enough soon enough and taught me to read. Probably one of the reasons was he tired of reading me the funnies every evening.  We didn’t live where there was a library handy until I was in the fourth grade—and that was bookmobile that came to school twice a month. I started reading Nancy Drew and similar mysteries. The first book I purchased with my allowance was LITTLE WOMEN when I was ten. My dad loved reading and encouraged me. When our town established a sales tax, my dad increased my allowance enough to cover the sales tax so I could buy books. I’ve no idea why he didn’t take me to the library, because by then we were in a town that had one.

3. Why writing? Was there a time when you wanted to do something else?
I’ve wanted to do lots of other things. First I wanted to ride the West with Roy Rogers, be a detective like Nancy Drew, be a reporter like Lois Lane, and then I really did get into journalism in school. I was editor of my school paper and won a couple of awards for that. In my career, though, I’ve worked as a secretary, bookkeeper, newspaper reporter and featured columnist, and assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal.
That's a very diverse selection of jobs, do you use the experiences gained in those jobs in your books?

4. Which character you’ve written about means the most to you, and why?
Hmm, that’s really hard. I love all my characters. I guess one that means a lot to me is Pearl Parker from THE MOST UNSUITABLE BRIDE. She’s based on an anecdote my grandmother told me about a girl she grew up with. I decided the poor girl needed a happier life, so I wrote her one. My grandmother told me that anecdote not long before she died, so the book and memories of my grandmother are closely bound.
What a lovely legacy to your grandmother. :-)

5. Do you enjoy cooking, and do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share with us?
Cooking? Me? I used to love cooking, especially for parties and guests. Now I cringe at the idea. Fortunately, my sweet husband cooks most of our meals so I can write. You can see why I call him “Hero,” can’t you? However, here is a recipe that people always go back for seconds for as well as ask for the recipe, and it’s really easy to make. It’s not my original concoction, but is from a woman in our church named Donna Dill.

Corn Salad
2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup chopped purple onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 ½ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 pkg. Chili cheese Fritos

Mix all ingredients except Fritos and chill. Just before serving, crumble Fritos and mix in. Serves 6.
I punch a tiny hole in the Fritos package to let the air escape and then pound the package. Then I can open the package and add them to the salad. That way, the chips are crumbled with no mess.

6. Do you have a special writing space?
Yes, I use what used to be my youngest daughter’s bedroom as my office. I call it my pink cave because of the wall color and the fact that I tend to hibernate there.
I can empathise with the hubernating bit.

7. Are you able to maintain a structured writing routine?
Until recently. I seem to have run off the rails recently when life interfered, and I had thyroid cancer. I’m getting back in the groove now.
That's a tough interference.  I'm pleased to know you are getting back in the groove again.

8. What is your favourite flower, and why?
My favorite is the pink rose, especially a wild rose. It’s been my favorite as long as I can remember. There used to be an old Avon scent called Wild Rose and my mom used it. The lid was blue with a wild pink rose on it. Near where my paternal grandmother is buried, wild pink roses grow along the roadside. My eldest daughter lives near there and has one of the roses on her property. She brought me one last spring. I hope it lives.
I love the way wild roses grow in abandonment and abundance.

9. Are you a plotter or ‘pantser’? If a plotter, what happens when your characters refuse to co-operate?
I am a definite plotter. My characters must co-operate. I am their creator. Lately it’s me who’s not co-operating. I got side-tracked with promotion and a few health issues.

10. What is it about history that appeals to you so much?
I love most historical eras, but post reconstruction Texas history, especially the 1880’s, is my favorite. My dad used to tell stories about his family coming to Texas from Georgia and the anecdotes fascinated me. His stories made that part of history come alive for me.
What a lovely memory.

11. How much time do you spend researching the period and settings for your novels?
Initially, quite a bit. That’s one nice thing about sticking with one time period and locale. The basic research is completed, and one only has to do the unique aspects of that book. Since I love history, it’s easy to find new details that inspire another book.
Even contemporary novels require research.
I'm not a history buff, but when I read a book that 'seeps' history into me during the story, I find myself hooked.

12. How long does it take you to complete a novel?
From four to six months, depending on life.

13. Please will you tell us a little bit about your latest book THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE?
Please add your web and blog links here and where readers can buy this book, and your backlist.
Thank you for asking. My latest is a western historical, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. The heroine and her family were turned off their land in Ireland by their landlord and fell in with Irish Travelers. The hero is half Cherokee/half Scot-Irish and was raised by his McClintock aunt and uncle when his parents were murdered.

The previous release is OUT OF THE BLUE, a time travel in which a woman from 1845 Ireland comes forward to modern day Texas to help a police detective solve the mystery of who’s trying to kill him and why. It has a lot of suspense in it.


Here’s a blurb for THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE:

Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father somehow arranged the trap for Dallas McClintock, but she agrees to wed the handsome stranger. She’d do anything to protect her family, and she wants to save herself from the bully tom Williams. A fine settled man like Dallas will rid himself of her soon enough, but at least she and her family will be safely away from Tom Williams.

Texas rancher Dallas McClintock has no plans to wed for several years. Right now, he’s trying to establish his reputation as a successful horse breeder and trainer. Severely wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, Dallas is taken to her family’s wagon to be tended. He’s trapped into marrying Cenora, but he is not a man who goes back on his word. Ah, but what is he to do with a wife and her wild Irish family?

14. Please will you include an excerpt of your book?
Here’s a PG excerpt from a few weeks after their forced marriage and the first night in their house on Dallas’ ranch:
Dallas tugged Cenora behind him as he raced up the stairs.
“You’re fair dragging me, man. Show a care o’ me leg bones, will you?”
“I have plans for those lovely, long leg bones,” he promised, but slowed his stride.
“Thank you,” she said, fanning her face with her fingers. Then she tugged on his hand. “Saints preserve us, right now all me thoughts of legs are of winding me own around you.”
“How can you expect me to walk slow when you talk like that?” He blew out the candle and scooped her up.
She nestled against him and her sigh fanned her sweet breath against his neck as he hurried to their room.
When they were inside he kicked the door shut behind them and set her on the bed. He closed the curtains and lit the bedside lamp. Soft light played across her perfect features.
“At last we have privacy without cracks the next morning about our creaking wagon.”
“And tonight when we sleep ‘twill be in a bed that fits yourself with room for me as well.”
“That’s the best part, Cenora, you’ll be beside me.”
He meant it and the thought hit him hard. He’d been plenty mad at their forced union. Still was, in fact, no matter how much he enjoyed their couplings. Considering himself a loner, he hated having a crowd around. But he hadn’t realized how comforting sharing his life with a woman might be.
The right woman, that is. Dang, he hoped Cenora was the right one. Like it or not, and whether or not those vows were legally binding, he was honor-bound stuck with her now. It looked as if he had her family as well.
“I didn’t know to bring me night clothes,” she said with a coquettish glance and slid off the bed to meet him.
After he kicked off his boots and socks, he caught her hands in his. “You won’t need a thing.”
She giggled again and he pulled her to him. His blood boiled when she returned his kiss. He’d been horny as Xavier’s goat since the first minute he thought of Cenora in his bed. No longer a shy miss, she met his tongue with her own. When he thought his head would explode from the skyrockets her mouth ignited, he broke the kiss.
Her rose scent filled him and he thought he would never tire of it. She fumbled with his shirt buttons then pushed it from his shoulders.
“Yours is a very broad chest.”
Her fingers skimmed across him and his need for her magnified. When she traced the whorls of his nipple he thought his knees might give way. He stilled her hand.
“There’s something I want from you, have wanted since we met.”
Fear sprang into her widened emerald eyes and she paled. Dang, he cursed himself for frightening her and her for not trusting him.
Her voice trembled. “Wh--What would you be asking?”
“Dance for me.” He knew it sounded crazy, but he’d imagined this for days.
She looked askance. “Here? But ‘tis your bedroom, and not a note ‘o music playing.”
“Our bedroom, and you can sing or hear the music in your head to keep time.”
“Please? Not for coins or where others can see, but only for me.”
A slow smile spread across her face and she cocked her head to one side. “Aye, I see now. If ‘tis for your pleasure, then ‘twill be mine.”
After she took off her shoes and stockings, she spun away. But not in the regimented dance he’d seen when other women accompanied her. This time she took the red scarf from her waist and used it as an instrument meant to entice a man.
Her man.
She twirled as if to a measured rhythm only she heard. Her green skirt and white petticoats billowed out to reveal long, perfect legs. Legs he wanted around him. She slid the scarf in imitation of a caress along her slender arms. Then she moved the red silk along her body.
Dang, he was hot as a gunslinger’s pistol and just as hard. His manhood strained against his britches until he thought he’d pop through the fabric. He loosened the buttons and stepped from his clothes, never taking his gaze from her. Reaching behind him, he turned back the bed and sat on the sheet.
Before his heat warmed the cool fabric, she pulled him to the middle of the room and circled around him. He pivoted, naked as a newborn, and watched her every move. Dipping, fluttering, and arching her lithe frame, she lured him with each sinuous flow of her body.
Flush with the throbbing pulsating through him, he pictured himself plunging into her again and again as she wound around him. Her erotic gyrations set his already heated blood at a boil, but he stood mesmerized by her and the dance.
Her flaming hair streamed around her in a fiery cloud. She looped the scarf over his head and the red silk left a tingling trail across his shoulders and down his right arm. Then she threaded it around her own shoulders and sawed it while she shrugged first one shoulder up and then the other one. Fabric of her blouse pulled taut against her full breasts and pushed the peaked nipples into view.
Dang, he couldn’t take much more of this or he’d explode like fireworks on the Fourth of July. On and on she whirled and kicked, first coming near to brush against him, then moving back with a captivating smile. Teasing him with the piece of silk as she pulled it across his body, she seared him with her touch and made him part of her beguiling ritual.
When he could stand it no longer, he said, “Come here, let’s dance together in bed.” To his ears, his voice rasped hoarse with the need that burned inside him.
She approached slowly, seductively, with fluid grace. As she moved, she drew off her remaining clothes. Twining the scarf around his wrists, she pulled his arms high until she slid under them, imprisoning him and herself in their circle.
“Now we are truly bound together,” she said, her voice breathy from her exotic dance.
“Am I your prisoner, then?” he asked, amused at her tempting play even as her touch fueled his need.
“Yes, and I am yours.” She met his gaze, but her jewel eyes held uncertainty. “Did I please you then, or was I too forward with meself?”
“You are beautiful and graceful and your dance was even more special than I’d hoped.”
She breathed a big sigh. “Then you approve and will be taking me to bed now?”
“I suppose I must do as you say, since I’m your prisoner.” He nibbled at her neck and she released the scarf binding him. The silk fell from his skin as her arms slid around his shoulders.
Their lips met and he delved his tongue to sample her nectar. She responded with fervor. He rejoiced that if he must be tied to this woman, at least she shared his apparently boundless passion. He pulled her with him across the bed, then scooted her until she lay cushioned in the center of the thick mattress.
“Finally, I can see and taste all of you.”
“I’m hoping ‘tis all right for us to act so heathen.”
He lay propped on an elbow beside her, content for a moment to look his fill of her. “It isn’t heathen for a husband and wife to enjoy one another. Doesn’t it feel right?”
In the golden lamplight, her skin gleamed like ivory.
“Aye, it feels more than right. It’s as if being with you is where I was meant to be.”
He smoothed her auburn hair across the pillow. It looked even more glorious there than he had dreamed. Desire darkened her emerald eyes and the pink of exertion tinged her cheeks.
“No woman will ever be more beautiful than you are right now.”
“If you think that then we’re well matched, for never lived a more handsome man than you are.”
He took her graceful hand in his and brought it to his lips. After he pressed a kiss to her palm, he suckled each fingertip.
She pulled away and put her hands under her. “You’ll be driving me mad with wanting. Hurry.”
He smiled down at her and shook his head. “Nope. I’ve thought about this night since we wed. Reckon we might not get much sleep, for I intend to take my time.”
“But ‘tis torture waiting.” She reached for his manhood.
He twisted away. “Let me give you something to think about, then.” Starting with her beautiful eyes, he rained kisses on her face, her neck, and her shoulders. He cradled one of her ample breasts while his mouth suckled the other.
She moaned and clutched him to her.
In spite of his throbbing need, he restrained his own urgency and slowly trailed kisses down her ribs, her stomach, to her mound of curls. He slid a finger inside her moist heat.
“Now, Dallas, now. I can’t wait another second.”
Desire won and he stretched himself over her. “Nor can I,” he said and slid into her. “Let’s begin our own dance.”

15. If I have omitted anything you’d like to share with the readers, please feel free to add it to the list of questions.

Since I am an eclectic reader, I am an eclectic writer. I’m in edits now for a sweet contemporary, HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME, and have a lovely cover for it, but the release date is yet to be announced.

Thank you,Caroline, for joining us at The Heart of Romance today.

Thank you so much for hosting me, Sherry. It’s been a pleasure being here.


Margaret West said...

Hald cherokee and Irish, huh. What a combination. Your book sounds great. Love the excerpt. Good luck with it.

Margaret West said...

oops can't spell either. I meant HALF lol

Susan Macatee said...

Great interview, Caroline! Every one I see, I learn something new about you. I always loved reading the funnies too! And I devoured Nancy Drew. Always had my nose in a book growing up and I still do. Only now, I've got that cool new Nook in front of my face half the time. LOL.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Caroline,
Wonderful interview. I read Little Women at an early age, I didn't buy it though, someone gave it to me as a birthday present. Pink roses are nice, but I love the blood red ones best.
Exciting excerpt, very evocative.



Celia Yeary said...

That excerpt was something! Wow.
I've never heard of corn salad, but I sure can envision it and just about taste it. Very interesting combinstions.
Sherry, you did an excellent job with this interview. Celia

Sandra Crowley said...

Hi Caroline,
I loved Pearl, too. Great interview. Wonderful questions, Sherry.

Lilly Gayle said...

Great interview, Sherry! And I'm def going to have to try that recipe, Caroline!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks for stopping by, ladies. I hope you enjoy the salad. I've had requests for the recipe each time I serve it. It's so simple it's almost embarrassing to give the recipe. LOL I hope you'll also enjoy THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE and OUT OF THE BLUE. I enjoyed writing them.

Sherry, thanks for hosting me!

Cherie Le Clare said...

Hello Caroline,

I am constantly drawn back to your cover on the WRP website - it's stunning! Hope it's bringing you lots of sales, and I hope my artist does as good a job with my newly contracted story:)

I'd love to try the salad reciope but I haven't seen Fritos in supermarkets here in New Zealand. Are they a type of potato crisp?

Cherie Le Clare

susan said...

I tried the recipe today and love it. Thanks for sharing. I loved the interview and your childhood sounded so much like mine with one difference..you had true parents and I had a great aunt and uncle who raised me after my mother abandoned me at 5 days old. I was on a tonic for years because I could not get built up and was always sick. I tell people that the tonic didn't start working until after I got married and that's why I BLOOMED so much if you get the idea. ha ha susan L.

Sherry Gloag said...

Thank you Caroline for being here today, and to everyone who joined us and for their kind words, too