Today I’m delighted to welcome Allison Merritt to Me, My Books and I:
A love of reading turned Allison Merritt into an author who writes historical, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She graduated college with a B.A. in mass communications that’s gathering dust after it was determined that she’s better at writing fluff than hard news.
She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she’s not writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.
To find out more:
Where did the idea for The Convict and the Cattleman come from?
At the time I came up with the book, I hadn’t written anything in years. I’ve always loved historical romance, so I knew if I was going to get back into writing, that was the genre I wanted. All my best ideas come to me in the shower, which I read an article that said this isn’t unusual, because it’s a relaxing place. I wanted to do something unique, even though I love the Old West. I just moved a bit farther west for the setting. Believe me, it took a ton of research to figure out where I could have a female convict come from, what prison she should be sentenced to, in what part of Australia, what year, and how the hero could get her out of there. I’m actually a little surprised it worked out so well, but I’m glad it did!
Who designed the cover and why did you go for that particular design?
Fiona Jayde is the designer and you can find her at fionajayde.com. She does beautiful work, doesn’t she? This is the first cover I was presented with and it met my expectations even better than I hoped. My favorite detail is the lace on the woman’s sleeves, because my heroine is a convict and she has scars on her wrists from manacles and adds lace to the sleeves of her dresses to cover them, a detail I didn’t mention when filling out the cover art form, but it’s perfect.
Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?
I love tall, dark and handsome Jonah, the hero, but there’s a secondary character named Rob Langnecker, who loved Jonah’s sister. He’s an ex-convict and very complicated, almost an anti-hero, but I think he has a squishy side we don’t really get to see in the book and I’d love to chat him up.
What do you hope readers will learn from The Convict and the Cattleman?
One of the main themes behind this book is that no matter what your beginnings or what tragedies befall you on the way, you get a second chance and you can make the best of it, or let it carry you away.
What makes it stand out from the crowd?
It’s highly unusual to have a female protagonist who’s a convict. She saw stealing a crime she had to commit to save her starving family, and it wasn’t unusual at the time for any lower class citizens to steal and be transported to the colonies because of overcrowding in prison. Another thing is, I think most non-Australian people think ‘Australia, sheep’. I did a lot of research on the cattle market in Australia because I know absolutely nothing about woolies!
Do you follow a plan when you are writing or do you let the story guide you?
My stories tend to be very character driven, so I usually let them have their heads. Charts and documents and time lines freak me out.
Do you have any writing quirks?
I have to write in linear fashion. I remember writing the last scene of one novel, but I ended rewriting almost a whole different story with those characters. Jinxed it by writing out of turn, lol.
Who are your favourite authors and do you think they have influenced your own writing in any way?
Louis L’Amour was a definite influence. He’s the reason I love the Old West. One of Roseanne Bittner’s historical romance novels was the reason I started writing historical romance. My other greatest influence is Harold Bell Wright, who came from New York to Missouri and wrote about our hills. I think he’s the real reason I wanted to become an author. These days my reading leans toward a lot of paranormal, like Dean Koontz and some Stephen King. Love those guys.
If you could travel anywhere in the world to do research for a book where would it be?
I always dabble with the idea of writing contemporary romance, but for some reason I’m nervous about it. I’d love to write western contemporary. It’s been years since I went to Colorado, but I was so impressed with Estes Park, I would love to go back and write something set there. I’d also love to try British Columbia or Alberta, and write a historical featuring mounties.
Paperback or eBook?
Paperback. I’m a traditionalist, but ereaders come in handy too.
Snow or sun?
Sun! I’d love to never see snow again!
Sweet or savoury?
Sweet. Cake or pie, please!
Listener or talker?
Listener. My husband complains because I can’t think of anything to say, believe it or not.
Dogs or cats?
Either is fine. We currently have inside and outside dogs, but I wouldn’t mind a cat to warm my lap now and then.
Any last words for your readers?
Keep reading! It’s good for your mind and your spirit. I hope if it’s something you love, you never the power to read as much as you want, because reading is such an escape, it takes you away from bad situations and gives you something to hold on to.
Thank you so much for being here today Allison, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about your favourite authors!
Now check out the book:
“His love is the key to her release.
Sentenced to seven years of servitude in the penal colony of New South Wales, Bridgit Madden is thrust into a world unlike anything she’s known, dangers she never imagined and enemies with their own interests at heart. Certain that the conviction has ruined her chances of ever having a real family, she is fearful of her future.
Despite his reluctance to take in a convict, Jonah Andrus, a grazier and pioneer cattleman, needs a servant to care for his orphaned niece. When presented with Bridgit, who is far too beautiful and distracting, he initially tries to refuse. However, with a busy cattle station to oversee, he needs help right away.
Upon her first meeting with Jonah’s niece, Bridgit immediately falls in love with the girl and becomes entwined the mystery surrounding her birth. As she gets to know her employer better, Bridgit makes it her mission to remind him that family is priceless. When it seems as though she might have found the place she truly belongs, their love is threatened by lies and deceit, and both of them might lose everything they hold dear for a second time.”
“There, there. Bridgit will be along any second. She knows how to take care of you. Uncle Jonah will drop you. You’re too small.”
Surprised by his own admission, he stared helplessly at Olivia. When was the last time he’d paid her any attention? She’d grown and he hadn’t noticed. Babies did; he knew well enough from watching his calves during the summer. The baby he remembered was tiny, wrinkled and didn’t look like anyone. Charlotte, exhausted, but elated, had smiled proudly.
“Isn’t she beautiful, Jonah?”
Recalling her voice made his heart pound. The silly girl didn’t have a sense of shame. She’d been nervous when she admitted her tryst and the subsequent pregnancy, but she had defended her child. Not unlike one of his cows. They protected their young fiercely.
He hadn’t found the words to answer her question. All he saw was Rob Langnecker’s face. The desire to kill him had blotted out everything else. Langnecker had ruined his sister, left her alone with a bastard child and went off chasing other skirts. She’d died in the room where Bridgit slept, believing he’d come back for them.
If I ever catch him.
Jonah ran his hand down his face.
“Is something wrong?”
Bridgit’s warm hand closed around his. Pity shined in her eyes.
“The chores are waiting.” Clammy sweat dampened his shirt.
She tugged his hand. “You need to stay. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Go sit down.”
He didn’t understand why he obeyed, but he sat in the rocking chair by the window. His father had crafted it for his mother years before Jonah was born.
Bridgit lifted Olivia, nestling her into his arms. The cries eased to a whimper.
“Hold your arms like this. You’ve got to support her head.”
“I know.” Charlotte had insisted he hold Olivia hours after her birth. He remembered it clear as day. Accepting the chubby baby, he was surprised at her weight.
She’d been so small. “She’s healthy.”
It was more a question than a statement. Olivia gazed at him, eyes wide. Her fingers toyed with one of his buttons.
“Aye. Growing like a weed. She’s learning to roll over.” At his confused look, she explained, “That’s good. She’ll be crawling before long. She talks to me and follow things with her eyes. Everything she’s supposed to do.”
“Good. Charlotte would be glad.” His voice sounded choked and he cleared his throat, hoping Bridgit hadn’t noticed.
She lifted the bottle. “Here. Feed her. Tip it up, so the air gets in the bottle.”
He let her show him what to do, surprised again when Olivia grasped the bottle with her tiny hands. Her features were clearer now. Charlotte’s nose and chin. Those couldn’t be his ears, could they? Dark blue eyes stared up at him, then drifted shut as she suckled greedily. Her eyes were the only resemblance he could find to her father.
Bridgit kneeled beside the rocking chair and swept dark locks from the baby’s face. Her hand settled on his knee. “There. She’s happy now.” A wistful smile played across her face.
A jolt ran through him. With Olivia snuggled against his chest and Bridgit beside him, the moment belonged to a family man.
BUY THE BOOK