By Lauren Linwood
Separated from her twin during the Orphan Train selection, schoolmarm Serena Sullivan searched for her brother Bill over fifteen years. Just as she gets a lead on his whereabouts, she is railroaded by a crooked sheriff and set to hang for the murder of the sheriff’s best friend.
English playwright Daman Rutledge has come to the American West on business for his brother when he witnesses a woman about to be executed. On impulse he rescues the beautiful stranger and goes on the run with her. Along the way Daman finds the muse he’s been missing and loses his heart to the raven-haired beauty with haunting amber eyes.
As they try to outrun the long arm of the law, Daman seeks to prove Serena’s innocence before it’s too late.
My interview with Lauren Linwood
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a movie buff who loves everything from The Usual Suspects to Pretty Woman. I live to eat dark chocolate and wish instead of a Starbucks on every corner that it would be a gelato stand instead. My favorite place I’ve visited is The Tower of London. I drove a little Mazda convertible for 12 years and looked awfully good behind the wheel until a Texas hailstorm pummeled it into oblivion. I walk almost every morning, no matter what the weather, and I prefer texting to talking on the phone.
Did you always want to be an author?
I think in the secret recesses of my mind, I believed I’d be an author one day. For almost six years I was an only child with a lively imagination, so I constantly made up stories for my dolls and stuffed animals to perform. Once I could read and write, I scribbled stories that I’d have my friends act out. I wrote a novel in college and thought when I graduated that I’d teach by day and write by night. Hah! A few things got in the way of that–lesson plans, grading, parent conferences, meetings. Then I took on grad school while teaching and got married and had my daughter. Life definitely got in the way of trying to be an author. So bit by bit, I began carving out time to start capturing the stories in my head and got myself into a critique group. When the time was right in my life, I pursued being published. Nowadays? I feel I’m living my dream.
What made you choose to write a romance?
Although I love to read in many genres, writing romance is the most rewarding. I get to tell wonderful stories and have a hero and heroine do the best thing in life–fall in love. They overcome all kinds of obstacles and odds, and I get to gift them with their very own happily-ever-after. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face!
Is there another genre you would want to write for?
If I could come up with a great idea, I’d love to try my hand one day at a thriller with historical elements. I enjoy authors such as Steve Berry or Brad Meltzer and how they create a fantastic story that gallops at warp-speed and incorporates tidbits of history that become integral to the plot.
Please tell us about your writing process.
I start with choosing names for my hero and heroine. Names convey meaning, so I have to have their names in place before anything else occurs. Their physical appearance follows. In my mind, a Jane is very different looking from a Janet! Then once I see them in my mind, I begin creating their personalities, character traits, and back story. Once I fully flesh all this out, then I turn to plot and conflict.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write. Write more. And keep writing! It’s important to write on a regular basis and give yourself permission to write junk. You can always go back and add to it, delete from it, revise it, ramp it up–whatever! But you can’t do any of those things if you haven’t gotten anything down on paper. Also, I advise going to conferences and attending workshops. You can learn so much about the craft and also meet some wonderful people there . . . who just happen to be fellow writers!
Describe Outlaw Muse in a tweet (140 characters or less)
A hero prevents a stranger’s execution and flees with her, finding love and a muse for his writing as he proves her innocence.
What was your inspiration for Outlaw Muse?
I did some research about the Orphan Trains to share with my classes, and it spurred the idea for Serena and her twin brother to be on one of these trains. They’re separated during the selection process, and she is determined to find him. I also spent time reading about cattle drives, and my hero Daman comes to the American West and rides on a cattle trail. Their lives intersect near one of the railheads, a town where a cattle drive comes to an end and the cattle are shipped by rail to Northern markets.
This novel is set in the American Old West, did you face any challenges (research, historical, etc.) when writing this novel?
I’d already taught about this time in history for several years, so I was quite familiar with it. With the Internet, it’s so much easier to find information. At my fingertips I can see maps, tour museum exhibits, find historical letters, and even graphs on how many cattle survived on the trail and what price they would bring in upon arrival. The biggest challenge isn’t research-driven at all. It’s trying to corral my characters and get them to do what I want them to do. Many times I have ideas of what should happen, but they start venturing off on paths and forging their own trail! I have to rush to catch up so I won’t get left behind.
Your biography states medieval times is another favorite era of yours. So if you were given a time machine and can only choose one era, which would it be and why?
That’s a great question, Kathy! It reminds me of Timeline, a book (and subsequent movie) by Michael Crichton. The members of an archaeological dig wind up going back in history for six hours to a day where a medieval battle will occur, right on the site of their dig. Just about everything you can imagine could go wrong does, especially with a language barrier. Maybe because I’ve read and seen that, my safer choice would be to visit our own American West. I think there’s just something romantic about the era. The people who moved from the confines of the urban cities at that time to the wide frontier really blazed a new trail and new way of life. They were risk takers and adventurers and had a true spirit and love of life about them. I’d like to be a part of that . . . for a limited time, of course. I think after a week I’d miss my hot showers and central heat and air and iPhone!
What are you currently working on?
Right now my work-in-progress is another Western. I’ve created a Pinkerton detective guarding an opera diva who’s come to Denver to sing in their great opera house, and they’ll travel to other cities. Many people don’t realize the West was full of opera houses (Salt Lake City and San Francisco, for example) where opera companies played. They also hosted touring theatre groups and vaudeville shows. Along the way, the Pinkerton meets a Yankee heiress traveling to California, and the sparks fly!
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
I think I’ve probably over-shared, Kathy! I do want to thank you for hosting me. I look forward to interacting with your site’s readers and telling them a little more about Outlaw Muse.
About the author
As a child, Lauren Linwood gathered her neighborhood friends together and made up stories for them to act out, her first venture into creating memorable characters. Following her passion for history and love of learning, she became a teacher who began writing on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones.
Lauren’s novels focus on two of her favorite eras, medieval times and the American Old West. History is the backdrop that places her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grows into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.