D.B.: Hi, Barbara, welcome back. Is this a great cover or what?! I loved Family Matters. I adore A Rancher’s Pride. I saw a lot of you in Family Matters, however, I think you sunk your heart and soul into this book. A little background: Rancher Sam Robertson lives in New Mexico with his aging mother. Sam is a bitter divorced man, with a questionable past. His ex-wife Ronnie adds one more layer to his bitter persona--she drops off the daughter he never knew he had and then simply abandons her to Sam’s care. Becky is not just any four-year-old, however. She comes with issues. Becky is deaf. So not only do we have a man who never knew he was a dad, he now has a daughter with a disability and no way to communicate with her.
Ready to put the book down now? I don’t think so. Barbara, are you a teacher and a sign language interpreter as well? Tell us what inspired such a gripping conflict for a man already torn apart.
BWD: Hi, Donnell, and thanks for welcoming me back at Five Scribes! It’s always great to stop in. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed both FAMILY MATTERS and A RANCHER’S PRIDE, and I appreciate the wonderful comments.
To answer your first question, although I’m not a certified teacher, I have taught writing as an adjunct professor for community colleges and adult education programs. Also, I hold National certification as an American Sign Language Interpreter.
As for Sam, he fascinated me from the moment I first saw him. He’d had a hard time of things for a while and a lot of negativity in his life based on issues with his ex and... Well, I’m afraid I did to him what authors are supposed to do to keep readers interested in their characters: Hit ’em while they’re down. Pile on the conflict. Make things worse.
People might think I was inspired by my background to write about a deaf child. But that wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. What hooked me was the idea of taking a well-loved plot twist—having a hero suddenly “inherit” a child—and increasing his conflict by having the child speak a language he couldn’t understand. Along came Becky.
D.B.: After tearing at the readers’ heartstrings in the opening, you can’t leave well enough alone. Like icing on a cake you add another layer of conflict. Becky’s aunt and Ronnie’s sister, Kayla Ward arrives. She doesn’t think much of Sam, in fact, despise is a better word. No way, no how is she leaving this beautiful little girl in this ogre’s care. Now that Ronnie’s taken off, Kayla, a sign language instructor, who lives in Chicago, is the only one qualified to care for Becky, and she’ll do anything, including fight this man for custody.
Barbara, talk about these characters. They swarmed into this book with three-dimensional issues and personalities from page one. What went into their creation?
BWD: Honestly? A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. I fought to get the story “right”—at least for me. And I cried more than once during the writing of it. I recently received copies of the book, re-read the story, and will confess I cried again.
I wanted the hero and heroine to face the risk of losing someone they loved. Once I came up with the storyline, I wanted them to be equally determined about gaining custody of Becky.
Kayla has always been her niece’s champion, so it was natural for her fly into battle. To raise the stakes, I made Becky a child she’s nearly raised as her own.
Sam was a different story, and he really worried me! He might have had the weaker case—and the weaker determination—because he’d never had a relationship with his daughter. I gave him a little nudge by letting him know this could be the only child he would ever have.
And then there’s Becky, a four-year-old who’s been yanked out of her familiar surroundings and set down in a new location, among people who can’t explain to her what’s happening. Who can’t talk to her at all. Kayla, Sam, I all felt the need to do what was best for Becky. It just took a while for the three of us to agree on what that was!
D.B.: You have a great cast of characters as well, including a no-nonsense judge who from the very start shows the wisdom of Solomon. He knows Sam’s past, but has a fondness for the young man anyway. He also can see Kayla’s point; that Sam cannot communicate with his daughter. Judge Baylor comes up with an incredible compromise.
Did you study court cases to write this book? Tell us about the judge and where he came from?
BWD: I’ve read about plenty of court cases. But in this case, studying wouldn’t have done me much good. You see, Judge Baylor runs his court the way he sees fit. And while he doesn’t break any laws...let’s just say he’s sure an original thinker when it comes to interpreting them.
D.B.: You place this book in New Mexico in a town called Flagman’s Folly. Now, Barbara, seriously. Are you trying to pull the wool over this New Mexico girl’s eyes? No such place. But by the end of this book, I wished there were. What inspired this town? Is there an exact New Mexico location in your mind? Do you have an interest in railroads?
BWD: You’ve caught me on this one, Donnell! Flagman’s Folly is a homemade mix that started with a pinch of Gallup and a dash of Tucumcari, with a sprinkling of other places in the Southwest and a liberal splash of imagination added in. Using my own recipe lets me create the street names and stores and the layout of the entire town, which makes it fun for me.
That doesn’t mean the towns come without history, though—and Flagman’s Folly origin is important to the plot. I won’t give it away here, but I think the facts behind the town’s incorporation add an interesting layer to the book and to Sam’s story, and I hope readers think so, too.
As for your final question, when I was little I knew my grandfather “worked the railroad.” While I couldn’t tell you now exactly what he did, I always thought that was an exotic occupation. It sparked my interest in reading about railroads—in fiction—from THE TROLLEY CAR FAMILY, which was my idea of a train back then, to Agatha Christie’s “locked room” mystery, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.
D.B. Aha! I knew it. Flagman’s Folly must be close to the Texas border. I smiled at the drawls that came with these characters. New Mexico has a huge Hispanic population, which I’m sure you’re aware. It didn’t make me suspend my belief, however.
BWD: Yes, the town is set roughly halfway between Texas and Arizona. Its population is based on my own experience living in the Southwest: many of the inhabitants aren’t native to the states they now live in.
In A RANCHER’S PRIDE, along with the twangin’ Texans and various other folks, there are two Hispanic characters who appear—and who play even more important parts in my next book.
A blended population appeals to me because I write about relationships and families, and I like to show that close relationships can develop among diverse groups of people and that families don’t necessarily have to be connected by DNA.
D.B.: You do a fabulous job of taking two people who should be sworn enemies and develop an attraction, then chemistry between them. What’s more, neither is perfect. During one of Kayla’s introspection scenes she thinks how can a man who doesn’t communicate period learn to talk to his daughter? Kayla, herself is a woman quite used to getting her way.
In the first part of the book I found myself not liking Sam. Midway through, I found myself wanting to take Kayla aside for a good talking to. Especially when Sam comes up with the most painful and unselfish solution concerning the daughter he’s just been reunited with. Talk about hero material. Was this character growth intentional on your part? Have any of your other reviewers or readers mentioned this? Or was this simply my perception?
BWD: Thanks, Donnell. It might sound odd to say I’m glad you didn’t like Sam at first and that you probably wanted to tell Kayla off. That makes them human. That makes them real. That means I’ve done my job.
Yes, people have talked about Sam’s situation, the changes he needs to go through, and the decisions he’s forced to make. I’ll stop with that—we’ll save some twists for the reader!
D.B. Imagine my surprise when Kayla contacts Attorney Matt Lawrence. I instantly recognized the lawyer/protagonist from Family Matters. Kerry, Kayla’s friend and fellow teacher, is now Matt’s wife and due any day with their first child. That was a cool reunion for me. Did you set out with that idea in mind, or did it just naturally pop up when Kayla, a woman from Chicago, needed a lawyer?
BWD: This was one of those lucky breaks that can happen while writing a book. At first, I had no thought about adding an attorney to the story, but once the need became obvious, I knew Matt was just the man for the job.
I love learning what’s going on with characters after I’ve read their books. It was great to discover whether Matt and Kerry were adding another male or female to the MacBride clan.
D.B.: The twists and turns in this book are beautifully accomplished and well-written. I think the very human factor is what appealed to me the most. You unravel these characters’ stories with the finesse of a chef peeling an onion. What comes next for Barbara White Daille now that you’ve earned a 4-1/2 star review from Romantic Times for A Rancher’s Pride?
BWD: See? You did find the characters real, after all.
Thanks for asking about what’s coming up. You may be happy to hear that the next two books will also be set in Flagman’s Folly.
The first is the story of an injured rodeo cowboy who returns to his hometown seeking to right some old wrongs. There, he encounters his former high-school sweetheart, now a single mom struggling to survive financially and having trouble with her preteen daughter. She’s the woman he most needs to get square with. But he’s the one man she has to avoid.
The second book is the story of a young, widowed business owner who lost her Army hero husband and is determined to make a life for herself and her three kids. The rancher hero is just as single-minded in his goal to keep a promise he made—a promise that will once again turn the heroine’s world upside down.
I hope your readers will keep an eye out for them and will look for A RANCHER’S PRIDE, too.
Donnell, thanks again for interviewing me here at Five Scribes!
D.B.: You're most welcome, Barbara. Five Scribe Readers, questions or comments will earn one lucky person a book from Barbara's backlist. We'll decide on Friday the 13th, (no superstition here). I'll put you two together to decide which one. ;) I guarantee this will be happy reading.
Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the dry heat and have taken up square dancing.
From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.
Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!
Her newest title from Harlequin American Romance, A RANCHER’S PRIDE, was just released and has received a 4-1/2 star Top Pick review rating from RT Book Reviews.
You can find Barbara online at her web site and blog: www.barbarawhitedaille.com where you can check out her Virtual Blog Tour schedule for A RANCHER’S PRIDE.
CONGRATULATIONS TO CAROL DEVANEY!! YOU HAVE WON YOUR CHOICE OF BARBARA'S BACKLIST FOR PARTICIPATING IN THIS BLOG. WILL BE IN TOUCH!