Interview with Joan Bird, author of ‘Tumbleweed Heights’

Joan BirdJoan Bird has been telling stories for years. In her first incarnation she was a singer/song writer with a rock band (yes, her Fender guitars are awesome), then she started writing books, mostly for herself.

Joan’s storytelling is legendary amongst her family and friends. For years she’s been including short stories with her holiday greetings each December and for years her friends and family have been encouraging her to write a book. Little did they know she had a storehouse of novels just waiting to be read by more than just her mailing list.

A couple of years ago she began working on polishing the stories she had already written, which sparked new ideas that led to writing more novels. Tumbleweed Heights is her first published book, but there are more on the way and she can’t wait for you to read them.

Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Tumbleweed Heights.

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About Tumbleweed Heights

Tumbleweed HeightsMoving to Briarwood, Colorado had not been in Gilly Casey’s original life plan. Sure, she’d dreamed of owning a horse ranch, but as kind of a part-time gig, in Topanga Canyon maybe. But the best laid plans of this high-powered L.A. attorney turn to dust when more than her bar card is threatened. Fleeing to a life she had never imagined quickly becomes a cat and mouse game just to stay alive.

Luke Hudson’s road to Briarwood was no less bumpy. Hiding from his own demons, he’s no longer able to float below the radar when he recognizes the feisty Miz Casey is in more trouble than she’ll admit. Donning the hero mantle years after he’d shed that skin, Luke realizes that rescuing Gilly might just save him, too.

With so many secrets between them, does love stand a chance? When the past trains its loaded gun on them, truth may not be enough to safeguard Gilly and Luke.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Joan Bird. Can you tell us what your latest book, Tumbleweed Heights is all about?

Dynamic and successful L.A. lawyer, Gilly Casey is running for her life. Landing in tiny Briarwood, Colorado, she’s banking on the quiet life at her newly purchased run-down horse ranch to cover her tracks.

Broken down car and broken life left Luke Hudson at the side of the road in Briarwood. On the emotional mend from his past, he was content to subvert his skills while assisting Doc in his Vet practice.

When Luke’s sent out to Gilly’s ranch to deliver a dog as protection the attraction between them is immediate. But time is not their friend. Gilly’s past comes crashing through her back door before their fragile bond can strengthen and mend the secrets between them.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Gilly pretends lawyer-tough but is desperately in need of stability and love. Luke never lacked for self-assuredness or esteem, yet when his skills as a surgeon fail the bottom falls out. Opposites attract and it’s tension with sizzle.

My supporting characters I have to admit, I love. Doc is the salt of the earth while Diggy, though quirky, provides insight into Gilly and is the definition of a true-blue friend. Lulu and her pies, she’s the mortar that brings the characters together in some informative scenes. And the Sheriff – I loved writing him because he’s smart, handsome and totally bad.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

My characters, main or otherwise, are a mixture of real and fantasy people in my life. Little girls have dreams. I did. In those dreams I created heroes and damsels in distress. I wasn’t a cheerleader or a prom Queen and always felt that maybe it was all that time alone that pushed me into ‘create-a-different-world’ mode.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I’ve finished four books and the process is not formulaic. In fact, I find being continually surprised by my characters and where the book is headed keeps me on my toes. My plots tend to flow from the characters.

Q: Your book is set in a small out-of-the-way fictional town in the Colorado Mountains. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

On our tenth wedding anniversary we took a two-week road trip and visited Sedona – that Pink Jeep Tour, by the way, scared the living daylights out of me. On our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon we took this amazing two-lane highway from Santa Fe to Durango. That road is burned in my mind. Huge clouds hung heavy in the sky and occasionally we could see rain falling in streaks across the horizon. Horse ranches dotted the wild countryside and split-rail fences rimmed both sides of the road. Horses raced along the fence line, maybe excited by the charged air. It was a perfect two hours in my life and I wanted to live there. So it became my Briarwood.


Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. I doubt there’d even be a Tumbleweed Heights if I hadn’t taken that drive on that particular day.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Wow, great question. Luke has just pulled his old truck over to the side of the highway. It’s the return trip from the County Seat after marrying Gilly in a civil ceremony. Realizing that she’s cold in his old truck, especially since she’s dressed in designer jeans and a thin red jacket, he pulls off the road, wrapping her in a stinky blanket he keeps stashed behind the seat. They haven’t really spoken about the consequences of their sham marriage and this scene deals with emotions neither has yet faced in terms of how they feel about each other.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

I’m uncomfortable qualifying it as my best, but I’ll share one of my favorite ‘them’ moments. It’s from the scene I mentioned above. Having held his tongue most of the ride, Luke jolts Gilly with classic alpha-male arrogance.

“I’m going to find out all your secrets anyway, Gilly. You’re not going to be able to keep them from me for long.”

“Right and just how do you propose to do that cowboy? Folding her arms and leaning against the car door, the blanket still warming her lap.

“In bed, Mrs. Hudson. Nobody can keep secrets in bed.”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Not my issue, time is. My work schedule is so busy when I do find a moment to write, I’m all fired up.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Today? The last week I’ve been running on about four to five hours of sleep a night and I’d tell anybody that’s just not a good habit. With an extra hour, if I could ignore my desk, I think I’d pull some weeds until my fingers ached. Gardening is the amazing therapy.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

That’s easy. The Art of Racing in the Rain. As to the why, I’ve never met a more perfect human being than the dog in that book.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question. This is my first book and I feel blessed that it’s been published. I can repeat what I’ve been told. Perseverance, read some good books on the subject, submit often, master the Query letter, go to writing seminars and conferences with published authors and or agents – and join writing groups.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Joan.  We wish you much success!

And thank you for this opportunity to share a little of myself and my book.

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