Friday, January 14, 2011

Overcoming Abuse to Find a Happily Ever After

Paty Jager is someone who knows real cowboys, runs a real ranch with 350 acres, and now has eight western-themed books published. Her reputation in writing circles is someone who creates multi-dimensional characters (in other words you believe they are real).  She has also been a frequent speaker at writer's conferences on how to write male characters. How does she know? She grew up with two brothers and five surrogate brothers (Her mom's best friend was divorced with five boys and they did everything together). Paty has raised two girls and two boys.

You are in for a special treat with Bridled Heart. A story that tackles the childhood abuse suffered by the heroine and the tough decisions a couple makes to keep the relationship alive.

What was the initial spark that put this story in your head?  
I wanted to write another contemporary western so I picked a rodeo rider as the hero. While traveling on a plane from Alaska after my daughter had a baby, I sat next to a woman who was a traveling ER nurse. Her occupation and way of life was fascinating, and I thought what a great way for a woman who wanted to remain unattached to live. Then I started wondering why she wanted to remain unattached and came up with a woman who took charge of her life after being a child of incest.

 It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story.  Is there anything in this story like that? 
Growing up I had a friend that, while she didn't come out and say what was going on, as I've matured and experienced more of life I've come to realize she was probably like my heroine as a child in my book.

Does this story background relate to previous or future books? 
No, this is a stand alone book.

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? 
The scene where Gina tells Holt about her past-- all of it-- to the last little detail she kept holding back. She was purged and he then has to take it all in and decide the best way to deal with the knowledge and his feelings. I think it shows how you can work and work for a relationship then when it's finally given to you, you have to decide if you're ready for all the good and the bad it can bring into you life. 

How long have you been married, Paty?  I imagine you know a lot about working a relationship.
Yes, I've been married 32 years. The first 20 years my husband drove truck and I had to keep things going when he was gone for several days at a time. When we adopted a child with emotional problems, I put my foot down and said he had to be around more. He then only did day trips, so he was home at night to help take up some of the emotional slack of dealing with our newest family member. When the kids flew from the nest, we worked together every night (he was now working at a fertilizer plant), weekends and holidays to build a house. It took us two years and many people said that's how you end up divorced! But we now live in the house and are happy. The main thing about working together like we do is knowing when to keep your mouth shut and knowing when a break is needed.

I understand you actually ranch a large amount of acreage.  That must be why your cowboy books and westerns are so realistic.  How do you manage to both write AND ranch?  
There is actually a good amount of down time with the type of ranching we do. We have 30 head of mother cows. In the summer we just have to move them from one pasture to the next when they get one eaten down. That's about once a month. In the fall we calve, which requires me to walk through the herd a couple times a day and check for new calves. Then in the winter we feed hay once a day. We load a week's worth of hay on a wagon and pull it with a tractor. We alternate between me driving and my husband feeding or he drives and I feed. It depends on which tractor we need to use due to weather conditions. 

The last three summers, I spent half my time at our property in Eastern Oregon doing the irrigating. I lived in a 10x16 cabin without running water the first two years. I had to get water from the pump and filled a tub outside to bathe in the first year. The second year my husband set up a shower head on the side of the cabin, and I could get water there and take a shower, but still outside. This past spring we added on another small room, and I now have a sink and a shower inside the cabin. I'm still using an outhouse, but I love the inside shower. While I’m at the remote ranch there's no TV, phone, and only occasional internet so I get a lot of writing done because all I have to do is change the pipes twice a day, which takes me about an hour and a half morning and night. The cabin is so small there's hardly any cleaning to do and I’m the only person there so meals are a snap.

In your release, Bridled Heart, music plays an important role in the story.  Do you play an instrument?  Or is there a particular instrument that is your favorite?  What’s your favorite kind of music?
I played a clarinet from fourth grade through to my freshmen year of college. In high school I played the baritone sax in the jazz band, and I always wanted to learn to play piano but never got around to learning.
I love music. I laugh all the time at the fact I like to have it playing when I write, when I drive, when I’m doing just about anything. My husband gets in a car and he turns the radio off. When he comes home from work, he turns the CD or radio off that I have playing. I even walk with a mp3 player. I like just about all music except rap and heavy metal. They just blast to me. Most of my books have been written while I listened to specific music. When I use specific music for specific books I can move into the story and start writing much faster when I sit down to work. I'm like Pavlov's dogs! LOL 

What music were you listening to for Bridled Heart?
I listened to ex-rodeo cowboy and country western singer Chris LeDoux and classical piano.

If someone wants to check out your back list based on loving this story, where would you suggest they start? Or which books would be in a similar vein?
Perfectly Good Nanny my other contemporary western that won an award would be the next book in my list that is similar to this one by genre and emotion driven. The next one that would be close to these in that it is emotion driven is Gambling on an Angel; it's a historical. Then the Halsey brothers series, Marshal in Petticoats, Outlaw in Petticoats, Miner in Petticoats, and Doctor in Petticoats are historical westerns the first two are driven more with action and the next two are more emotion driven with mystery mixed in. The paranormal historical, Spirit of the Mountain, is action and emotion. 

Buy Bridled Heart at The Wild Rose Press or order from you favorite bookseller. If  you love cowboys...if you love the passion of being out on the ranch and in the west, then you'll love Paty Jager's books.  Believe me, you will be rooting for this couple and wanting them to both get a well-deserved happily ever after.


Sarah Raplee said...

What a great interview! It's nice to get to know you better, Paty. Thank you for sharing so much about your marriage and your life as a rancher. Can't wait to read Bridled Heart on my new e-Reader.

Kat Duncan said...

A nice interview, Paty. Great advice for relationships...and nice insights into you as an author. Roughing it at the cabin sounds peaceful...I would certainly get a tremendous amount of writing that gives me an idea for my next vacation...

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Sarah. I'm glad you liked the interview and the sound of the book.

Kat, I really don't mind the cabin because I don't have anything to interrupt the writing but changing pipes. It's a relief.