Today, I'm excited to introduce Shirleen Davies, one of my all-time favorite authors. If you're a regular follower of Authors to Watch, I'm sure you've seen my glowing reviews of the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series. Shirleen's historical romance series is by far one of the best series I've ever read.
Welcome, Shirleen! Can you tell us about the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series?
The MacLarens of Fire Mountain focuses on four brothers and two cousins during the 1870s American West. Each story focuses on one member of the family, highlighting their struggles, flaws, difficult decisions, and how they find their way past the obstacles placed before them. Although they may be read as singles, each book brings back characters and family members from previous books, giving readers a chance to get to know the MacLarens, and hopefully, relate to their struggles and choices.
Have you always had an interest in that historical time period?
Absolutely! When I started college my major was American history. I’ve always loved studying it, especially the period from the Revolutionary War through the 1800s. Through necessity, I worked full time while in college in the business office of a major utility company. That experience influenced me to change my major to business, but I never lost my love for history and continue to be captivated by events from our past.
How much research goes into each book?
Considerable research is completed for every book whether it’s historical or contemporary. I believe readers deserve to know the setting where the story takes place, including significant political or social events of the time. I’ve found that my research is most important for historical books so that readers have a context or background in which to place the plot and characters. I can’t count the pages of research I do for each book, but it’s considerable.
I hate to ask you to do this because it's like picking a favorite child, but do you have a favorite character or couple in the series?
I can’t pinpoint why, but for whatever reason, my favorite characters are Jamie and Victoria in book two, Faster than the Rest. I really do love my lead characters in every book, there is just something about Jamie and Victoria that pulled me into their story and produced some scenes that I find particularly satisfying.
You also have a contemporary series based on the MacLaren family. What was your greatest challenge in taking this new direction?
Identifying character personalities and stories that would be of interest to my readers. There are so many choices today plus all the conflicts that didn’t exist in the 1800s, such as dual career couples, long distance relationships, and non-traditional jobs. How do you choose? It’s a challenge.
How do you keep up with the series as a whole--all the characters, backgrounds, etc. Do you keep a spreadsheet or a notebook? Do you ever have to refer back to previous stories to make sure you're getting everything just right?
Yes, yes, and yes. I developed a master character spreadsheet with tabs at the bottom for each series. I keep a spreadsheet on first and last names common in the 19th and 20th centuries, and a scheduling calendar/spreadsheet to keep my writing on track. I also have a master spiral notebook for each series, plus a separate spiral notebook for each individual book. These are referred to and updated every day. I’m also beginning to use author Beat Sheets to help with my storyline and flow.
Your historical series seems to have really taken off and found an audience. What is it about your series that seems to resonate with readers the most?
I believe it is the characters. Readers seem to love the MacLarens and their strong sense of family and commitment to each other. If one faces a problem, they all face it together, and don’t back down until the trouble is behind them. They respect the strengths and accept the flaws of each other, yet speak their mind without fear of retribution. In my opinion, they are the best of what a family should be.
What are you working on now?
Book three, One More Day, of my contemporary series has just finished the editing and proofreading process. It will release in July.
I’m very excited about my new historical western romance series, Redemption Mountain. Book one, Redemption’s Edge, will release in September 2014. The series focuses on men and women who live through the American Civil War to face massive changes and challenges to their previous life. I’ll also be working on my next MacLarens historical western series, Boundary Mountain, which will focus on another branch of the family and take place in the 1860s through 1870s. Three of the characters were introduced in Wilder than the Rest. Book one of that series will release in 2015.
Thank you so much for visiting with us today! For those readers who would like to learn more about Shirleen Davies and the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series, please visit the following links:
Get to know the MacLarens of Fire Mountain:
Tougher than the Rest (Book One)
A passionate, fast-paced story set in the untamed western frontier by an exciting new voice in historical romance.
Niall MacLaren is the oldest of four brothers, and the undisputed leader of the family. A widower, and single father, he is focused on building the MacLaren ranch into the largest and most successful in northern Arizona. He is serious about two things—his responsibility to the family and his future marriage to a goal of a wealthy, well-connected widow who will secure his place in the territory’s destiny
Katherine is determined to live the life she’s dreamed about. With a job waiting for her in the growing town of Los Angeles, California, the young teacher from Philadelphia begins a journey across the United States with only a couple of trunks and her spinster companion. Life is perfect for this adventurous, beautiful young woman, until an accident throws her into the arms of the one man who can destroy it all.
Fighting his growing attraction and strong desire for the beautiful stranger, Niall is more determined than ever to push emotions aside to focus on his goals of wealth and political gain. But looking into the clear, blue eyes of the woman who could ruin everything, Niall discovers he will have to harden his heart and be tougher than he’s ever been in his life…Tougher than the Rest.
Faster than the Rest (Book Two)
Headstrong, brash, confident, and complex, the MacLarens of Fire Mountain will captivate you with strong characters set in the wild and rugged western frontier.
Handsome, ruthless, young U.S. Marshal Jamie MacLaren had lost everything—his parents, his family connections, and his childhood sweetheart—but now he’s back in Fire Mountain and ready for another chance. Just as he successfully reconnects with his family and starts to rebuild his life, he gets the unexpected and unwanted assignment of rescuing the woman who broke his heart.
Beautiful, wealthy Victoria Wicklin chose money and power over love, but is now fighting for her life—or is she? Who has she become in the seven years since she left Fire Mountain to take up her life in San Francisco? Is she really as innocent as she says?
Marshal MacLaren struggles to learn the truth and do his job, but the past and present lead him in different directions as his heart and brain wage battle. Is Victoria a victim or a villain? Is life offering him another chance, or just another heartbreak?
As Jamie and Victoria struggle to uncover past secrets and come to grips with their shared passion, another danger arises. A life-altering danger that is out of their control and threatens to destroy any chance for a shared future.
Harder than the Rest (Book Three)
Will MacLaren is a hardened, plain-speaking bounty hunter. His life centers on finding men guilty of horrendous crimes and making sure justice is done. There is no place in his world for the carefree attitude he carried years before when a tragic event destroyed his dreams.
Amanda is the daughter of a successful Colorado rancher. Determined and proud, she works hard to prove she is as capable as any man and worthy to be her father’s heir. When a stranger arrives, her independent nature collides with the strong pull toward the handsome ranch hand. But is he what he seems and could his secrets endanger her as well as her family?
The last thing Will needs is to feel passion for another woman. But Amanda elicits feelings he thought were long buried. Can Will’s desire for her change him? Or will the vengeance he seeks against the one man he wants to destroy—a dangerous opponent without a conscious—continue to control his life?
Stronger than the Rest (Book Four)
Drew MacLaren is focused and strong. He has achieved all of his goals except one—to return to the MacLaren ranch and build the best horse breeding program in the west. His successful career as an attorney is about to give way to his ranching roots when a bullet changes everything.
Tess Taylor is the quiet, serious daughter of a Colorado ranch family with dreams of her own. Her shy nature keeps her from developing friendships outside of her close-knit family until Drew enters her life. Their relationship grows. Then a bullet, meant for another, leaves him paralyzed and determined to distance himself from the one woman he’s come to love.
Convinced he is no longer the man Tess needs, Drew focuses on regaining the use of his legs and recapturing a life he thought lost. But danger of another kind threatens those he cares about—including Tess—forcing him to rethink his future.
Can Drew overcome the barriers that stand between him, the safety of his friends and family, and a life with the woman he loves? To do it all, he has to be strong. Stronger than the Rest.
Deadlier than the Rest (Book Five)
Connor MacLaren’s search has already stolen eight years of his life. Now he close to finding what he seeks—Meggie, his missing sister. His quest leads him to the growing city of Salt Lake and an encounter with the most captivating woman he has ever met.
Grace is the third wife of a Mormon farmer, forced into a life far different from what she’d have chosen. Her independent spirit longs for choices governed only by her own heart and mind. To achieve her dreams, she must hide behind secrets and half-truths, even as her heart pulls her towards the ruggedly handsome Connor.
Known as cool and uncompromising, Connor MacLaren lives by a few, firm rules that have served him well and kept him alive. However, danger stalks Connor, even to the front range of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, threatening those he cares about and impacting his ability to find his sister.
Can Connor protect himself from those who seek his death? Will his eight year search lead him to his sister while unlocking the secrets he knows are held tight within Grace, the woman who has captured his heart?
Read this heartening story of duty, honor, passion, and love in book five of the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series.
Wilder than the Rest (Book Six)
Pierce is a rough man, but happy in his new life as a Special Agent. Tasked with defending the rights of the federal government, Pierce is a cunning gunslinger always ready to tackle the next job. That is, until he finds out that his new job involves Mollie Jamison.
Mollie can be a lot to handle. Headstrong and independent, Mollie has chosen a life of danger and intrigue guaranteed to prove her liquor-loving father wrong. She will make something of herself, and no one, not even arrogant Pierce MacLaren, will stand in her way.
A secret mission brings them together, but will their attraction to each other prove deadly in their hunt for justice? The payoff for success is high, much higher than any assignment either has taken before. But will the damage to their hearts and souls be too much to bear? Can Pierce and Mollie find a way to overcome their misgivings and work together as one?
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