Welcome to the blog, Colleen! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a New Englander by birth, but I met and married a Southerner in college. Since we married, I’ve lived more of my life in the South than I did in New England, although I don’t consider myself Southern. Warren is my own real-life hero! I love horses and have been privileged to own several horses from the time I was young. Right now, I’m down to one horse, Monty, who is an affectionate sweetheart. I also love antiques and have filled my house with them. My son tells me I live in a museum.
Can you please share with us what your latest book is about?
Warrior’s Heart is a second chance at love story. Della and Wild Wind meet in Book 2, Wounded Heart, when he captures her in a raid. At that time, her heart is already given to Shane, his Cheyenne half brother. It isn’t until Book 3 that their romance can fully develop, although she’s grieving for her dead husband. Also there was much hostility in those days toward the tribes, which complicates Wild Wind’s life.
What was the catalyst for your interest in writing?
I think my love for writing developed from my love of reading. When I was younger, I fell in love with many fictional characters. I yearned to create my own fictional people and give them adventures, so I did. My mother tells me I wrote my first story in third grade. When I was in grammar school, I’d write a long story in daily installments, and my friends would read the latest installment on the bus on the way home from school. I wrote novels all through high school, and now I’m doing the thing that I love!
Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?
Actually, the entire premise for Warrior’s Heart came as a surprise. I originally didn’t plan to write Wild Wind’s story. I planned for Book 3 in my series to feature another character. However, Wild Wind is such a powerful person, he was in my head demanding that I tell his story. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my other idea, so I scrapped that and gave in to Wild Wind. As I worked on a plot for Wild Wind’s story, I never intended for Della and Wild Wind to marry.
She and Shane Hunter had married, and I planned to give Wild Wind another love interest. Once again, Wild Wind took control and tossed out my ideas for his story. He absolutely refused to love the lady I’d created for him. Wild Wind insisted that he already loved Della and refused to love anyone else. Since Della and Shane were married, I had to make her a widow in Book 3 to allow Wild Wind and her to have a romance. Once I gave in to him on this point, their story came together and flew off the page.
I love it when that happens! Who was your favorite character to create?
Although I love the characters in all my books, Wild Wind was definitely my favorite character. From the very beginning, he became almost larger than life and took control of the plot. Even when he was introduced in the last third of Wounded Heart, he dominated the story. I had to be careful not to let him overshadow Shane, who was the hero in Book 2. By the time he had his own story in Warrior’s Heart, he was a powerful person who dominated the plot and didn’t let circumstances control him. I fell in love with him!
How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?
I researched popular female Victorian names to get Della’s name. The name “Della” seemed to suit the character that I was creating, so I chose that one for her. As for Wild Wind, I researched male Cheyenne names and found that one for him. Since I wanted his character to be a man who would disregard white society’s law and order and become a fearsome Dog Soldier, “Wild Wind” fit the criteria. Once I gave him that name, he lived up to it!
What does your family think of your writing?
My writing is definitely a family project. I have two daughters-in-law who are trained in art and design. One of my daughters-in-law helps me with my newsletter design and develops the announcements for my book signings. The other one creates my bookmarks and other swag. My sons lend their technical skills where I need them, especially with my newsletter. And my husband listens to my story ideas, sympathizes with my setbacks, takes me on countless research trips, and cheerfully eats sandwiches or leftovers when I don’t have time to cook supper because I’m immersed in one of my manuscripts.
You’re so lucky! Can I borrow your son for my newsletter? Just kidding! What’s next for you as an author?
I’ve sent the manuscript for Book 5 to my editor. Book 5, Valiant Heart, is the final book in my Frontier Hearts Saga. Now I’m developing ideas and doing research for my next series.
You’ve been on quite a journey with this series! Here’s the cover and back blurb for Warrior Heart:
Della Hunter is struggling to adjust to her new life as a widow and be a single parent to her young son. Her world is further complicated when the man she almost married seven years before rides back into her life.
Wild Wind, her late husband’s half-brother, is a Cheyenne chieftain and a Dog Soldier of fearsome reputation. He no longer fights the soldiers, but he can’t tolerate a life on the reservation, so he makes the dangerous trek into the white man’s world. He comes to the Slash L ranch looking for work.
As he takes his brother’s place training horses on the Slash L, he must navigate two cultures and make his way in a society hostile to the tribes. During the years they were separated, his love for Della never wavered. While she grieves for Shane, he determines to woo and win her. Can he bridge the gap between his two worlds, and can he find it in his heart to love Della’s God as she does?
Please share your favourite excerpt from your book!
This is part of the scene at the beginning of Warrior’s Heart, where Della and Wild Wind meet again after a seven-year separation. Della is visiting Shane’s grave, and Wild Wind comes to the Slash L ranch looking for work.
“The rider halted mere yards from her. Recognition punched Della in the chest. She hadn’t seen this man in almost seven years, yet she knew him. Wild Wind. Shane’s half-brother sat his mount almost within touching distance.
For silent moments, Wild Wind stared down at her. An eagle feather fluttered from a lock of his long, dark hair. A fringed buckskin shirt and leather leggings molded his muscular frame. A rifle slung over his shoulder hung from a leather strap.
The years they’d spent apart hadn’t tempered his arrogance. He sat tall and erect upon his mount, head unbowed, his lean features expressionless. At last, he spoke. “Lona.”
Hearing him utter the name he’d given her years ago took her back to the weeks she’d spent in his Cheyenne village. Weeks when she’d thought she’d marry him, if Shane didn’t rescue her first. Remembering the more recent tales she’d heard of Wild Wind and his Dog Soldiers fighting the army in bloody raids during the last six years reminded her that this man had a reputation as a fearsome warrior. “Wild Wind. Do you come in peace?”
©2021 Colleen Hall
Wow! Here’s where people can buy Warriors Heart, and check out the rest of the series:
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If you’d like to ask Colleen anything about her western series or her writing in general, please leave a comment for her. Do you read westerns? What is your favourite decade from the 1800’s?