Super excited to have Tina Ann Forkner join us today with an interview and giveaway! If you haven't had a chance to get to know Tina, you're missing out! :) ENJOY
Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?
Thank you for having me! My latest novel, The Real Thing, is an emotional tale of cowboys, rodeo queens, and what it really means for new bride and stepmom Manda Marshall to ride beside a professional rodeo cowboy and his family.
I have been a stepmom for almost twelve years, so this story is close to my heart. Literature and Disney movies have not been kind to stepmoms, so I wanted to write something that shows how much we can really love all of our kids. Also, I live in Cheyenne where the rodeo is very popular because of Cheyenne Frontier Days, and so writing about cowboys and cowgirls was not really a stretch.
Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?
It is definitely Manda, the main character. I loved helping her find her way and enjoyed her escapades as a brand new stepmom and rodeo cowboy’s wife. She doesn’t ride horses and she’s not really a cowgirl herself, but she’s pretty sure she needs to be. Throughout the novel she tries really hard to be the best stepmom ever, which makes it hard for her when her teen daughter doesn’t immediately appreciate her mothering ways.
The most fun aspect of writing Manda was choosing her clothes. I’ve never spent an abundance of time on character outfits, but Manda’s western-wear makes me want to don my own cowgirl boots and go dancing!
Can you tell us about a scene that you wrote and eventually deleted? It’s always fun to know of the little details that didn’t make the cut J
Manda has a twin sister, Marta. They traded places when they were in high school because Manda decided in the middle of prom that she couldn’t stand her date. They went into the Castle Orchard High School bathroom and switched dresses. Nobody ever knew.
How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?
I love Tennessee so much. I try to visit my sister once a year and I just love the landscape, the weather, the green acres. We drive a lot while we’re there and I just always feel at home. Manda and her sister spend a lot of time at her dad’s orchard farm house. In her heart she’s an orchard farmer’s daughter, but as Keith’s wife, she lives on a ranch. So in The Real Thing, I chose the more rural side of Tennessee, which is the opposite of my upcoming romance, Nashville by Heart. I grew up in rural Oklahoma, so I’m comfortable in a country setting.
What made you pick these specific names of your main two characters?
This time, I can’t say I spent a ton of time on name choices. Manda just seemed right. I chose Peyton for the daughter because there is a little cowgirl in our family named Peyton. Keith Black was chosen after I scoured the Internet for names of rodeo cowboys. They all have very manly names, so I figured I could not go wrong with Keith Black. It’s very manly, right? That’s three characters, not two. I hope that’s okay!
Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What’s your least favorite
Cleaning toilets. This is the part of life that keeps me humble! I have not yet been able to justify having a regular housekeeper.
What are your hobbies outside of writing?
Summer is upon us, and full of events. Are you doing anything special this summer season?
Outside of writing, I like to garden and hike. Between Cheyenne and Laramie is an area called Vedauwoo (pronounced Vee-da-voo) and it has these amazing rock formations that you can’t see anywhere else. It’s one of the places where you think, I wonder what God was thinking when he made these? It’s very beautiful and unique. I love to hike around there with family or friends and just enjoy the fresh air.
This Summer I’m headed to visit family in Northeastern Oklahoma. This is a tradition. Every year everyone in the family who can make it gathers back home and we spend a week or two floating the river, hanging out in the country, grilling, and lounging around the pool. It’s not Hawaii, but I’ll take iced tea and barbecue instead of pineapple and mango if it means hanging around with my family and living in flip-flops. I’m actually really excited because that trip is coming up! Lots of sister, brother, and cousin time, and visiting our parents.
We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?
I got my start with my debut novel Ruby Among Us and later, Rose House. They were both published by Waterbrook Press, part of the inspirational arm of Random House. I didn’t set out to write a novel about faith, but because I am a Christian the world view naturally reflected my own faith. My newer books are mainstream women’s fiction, but my faith hasn’t changed and still gets reflected in my stories. Like any author, who we are is always going to come out in some way in our novels. I think that’s why I still cling to that message of hope in my stories and my characters still wrestle with, or cling to, faith at times. Thoughts about faith are universal, whether a reader shares an author’s faith or not. I’ve found that my readers tend to think it’s a natural part of being human and can relate when a character wrestles with faith or looks for meaning in God, even though it is not the focal point of the novel.
Tell us a little about a day in the life of you? Wake up time? Lounging in your jammies all day, drinking coffee, living the luxurious life of a writer ;)
Except in Summer, I am up at 5am either writing or catching up on writing-business. I am a substitute teacher by day and sub three to five days a week, so there is no time to lounge in my jammies! But, right now it is Summer and, um, I am typing this in my jammies. J
We have a bit of a war going on here at the CCC blog. Anne and Jaime LOVE coffee and Erica and Gabriella enjoy a joyful cup of tea. What is your preference? Help us break this tie…
I am addicted to coffee. I started drinking it in college to stay awake and I’ve never stopped! On the other hand, I lived in England for three years and my friend Dardi and I learned how to make and love a good cup of hot tea with cream and sugar. We frequented all the nearby tea shops and we bought our own tea pots for home. Oops. That did not break the tie!
And a few fun and quirky questions always reveal of lot from our authors who visit. So, first, if you were to take a boat down the Amazon river, what would you be most interested in seeing?
An anaconda, from very far off, so that it cannot get on the boat…the very big boat. Oh my gosh, have you seen the movie? All I had to see was the trailer to know that while I’d love to see one, I want to be far away, and for me to be in a very large boat. Why are the boats always flimsy in the movies? Definitely the writers of those scenes need to go back and restructure some of the boats. I know they’re trying to make it easier for the snake, but they should at least give the humans a fighting chance. So… you see why I write women’s fiction instead of thrillers set in the Amazon.
On another note, I did read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, which is set in the Amazon. It was quite intriguing. Not a thriller, but not exactly Women’s Fiction. Still, I was able to handle it a lot better, even though there was still some kind of snake or monster in the river, if I remember right.
I’m afraid I’ve wondered off. Let’s get back to the interview. J
If you had a choice of living in any era other than the present, what would you choose and why?
As I mentioned, I’ve lived in England before, so I am already in love with the large estate homes and castles. I’d like to live in Jane Austen’s day in the turn of the 19th century England (no adventures to the Amazon), but only to live as Jane lived. She was not exactly rich and she was not poor. She had to help with chores, but she also had access to culture. I would have loved living in the countryside and going on long walks, riding horses side saddle, and writing stories. And the dresses were beautiful. I would have liked the high waists. They look very flattering and forgiving!
We’d love to have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! J Please share something below:
“You come to watch me ride?”
“Does a rodeo queen wear a crown?”
He laughed. “But you hate watching me ride.”
“I love seeing you ride. It just terrifies me to watch.”
“I’m glad you came,” he said. Keith kissed my forehead in mid-stride, the scent of dust and sweat tickling my nose. “It’s awhile before I’m up, but I need to get on over there. Cheer for me, cowgirl.”
“I will. And you be careful out there,” I whispered, ignoring the endearment. Keith called all the girls in his family ‘cowgirls’—he even called my sister, Marta, a cowgirl, which was even funnier than calling me one. “Don’t get hurt.”
“How about you stop worrying and just tell me good luck.” He wrapped his arms around my waist and pressed his mouth against mine. I tried to keep it reserved in case someone was watching, but Keith’s lips were soft and persuasive. I’d never been one to care if a man had a muscular physique, but that was before I married a rodeo cowboy with rock hard abs and shoulders to go with his biceps. If I was that lucky, I was going to enjoy it, and right then, the heat of his body pressing up against mine almost made me forget where we were.
Just when I felt like we were back on the beach, a breeze swept through and the barn-related odors reminded me that we weren’t still on our honeymoon in Hawaii. I pulled away, wrinkling my nose.
“What? Do I stink?” I laughed, knowing he would stink a lot more when he got back from his ride.
“Good luck, babe.” I gave him a peck on the cheek.
“I’m gonna need it,” he said and straightened his hat. He was glad I came. I could see the pride in his face, and it made me happy. If only being a bronco rider’s wife was as easy as showing up to see her cowboy ride.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
What a fun interview, Tina! :) We had some lol moments in this one. And thanks for NOT breaking the tie between coffee and tea :P ;)
Hey readers, pick up your copies of Tina's book here:
Book links : http://bit.ly/RealThingNovel
and enter to win a copy!