Let's welcome Ann Malley to the blog!
She's an author published by Winged Publications which is the same company that published my most recent two books!
Today, she's here to talk about a book that's close to my heart because I loved it that much! Her story is called Rodeo King and it's a romance that leaves a lasting impression on the heart of the reader.
Here's the book cover photo:
Isn't her book cover captivating? Look at all those wide open spaces in Montana!
The woman on the book cover is Leigh Ann Lacie (heroine of the story).
Best of all, ONE of you will receive an e-copy of this book to download to your Kindle for FREE because the author has agreed to a book giveaway contest!
Remember to enter the giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter widget that is located at the end of this blog post.
Enjoy the interview! God bless you.
Interview with Ann Malley about her book, Rodeo King:
Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?
Ann: Rodeo King began as a lifeline, a means to stay sane during difficult times. Moved to action by my absolute bestie and long-time critique partner, I picked up the fiction writing that I’d abandoned to homeschool and manage endless cross country moves. Our family wasn’t moving after all. We were stuck in cramped temporary housing that lasted 36 months instead of three, limited to one car, and facing down the “hot” prospect of being redirected to any part of these United States or abroad for my husband’s next position. (Hurry up and wait works best when one has a pen and a mind to take a mental holiday!)
I would have taken anything to avoid that three-year helicopter hiatus. And yet God works as He wills. The particulars of when and where are strictly His domain. We didn’t move again. Well, not across country, but to our own home in Northern Virginia. SIGH! But Harlequin closed their western line. So I dug deeper and transformed Rodeo King into an inspired romance that touches the heart in a way I understood from personal experience. (Conflict and dark moments aren’t limited to romantic love.) And I decided to make Leigh Ann’s struggles a little more personal, something to which I could relate and I hope you will, too.
Alexis: What is the significance of your book’s title, Rodeo King?
Ann: I wanted Frank to represent man at the pinnacle of success, the king of all he surveys. At least that’s what he believes prior to encountering his high school sweetheart. It’s the small things that often trip us up, memories we can’t shake, feelings left unresolved. The Rodeo King is no exception. And Providence has its way with us all, even kings.
Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Leigh Ann Lacie. What does she look and sound like? What is her secret hope? What is her greatest dream? What does she love? What or who makes her mad?
Ann: Beneath a sassy exterior, Leigh Ann looks and sounds like that sad, seasoned friend you wish you could set up with the right guy. She’s only 33, but thanks to a past she refuses to unpack, she’s determined to move ahead. Alone. Unloved. And convinced she’ll never achieve that happily-ever-after she’s longed for as a child of a broken home. Her greatest dream, not that she realizes it, is to form her own legacy of love where she’s accepted for who she is, but one where her unspoken needs are met. She loves children—the hope for the future. If anything, she’s mad at herself for not having made that discovery long before she married the man who’s now left her widowed and somewhat jaded. But having wasted too many years, she’s determined to seek her dreams now, and not allow others to alter their course for fear they’ll harbor the same regrets that are breaking her heart.
Alexis: What’s Leigh Ann’s backstory and how does it affect her outlook on life?
Ann: The product of a disruptive mistake-of-a-marriage, Leigh Ann looks upon life as an antagonist (at least for herself). She’s determined to protect herself from all manner of pain. She doesn’t appreciate being the subject of Wild Horse Montana’s evening news, even if the broadcasting system is limited to Main Street Mercantile gossips. She prefers the anonymity of city living. And yet, when circumstances draw her back home, she can’t deny the satisfaction of returning to the scene of so much childhood drama only to discover that she’s been truly missed. By people who care enough to seek details and not only for something to talk about.
Alexis: Describe the setting of your story “Wild Horse, Montana.” What makes it special for your characters?
Ann: Wild Horse, Montana is a purely fictional town, one that embodies the spirit of big sky country…Big dreams…Family values…And, of course, the vestige of isolation that can give way to the heightened scrutiny of small town living. But small towns can grow just like people. Wild Horse, despite its distance from big cities and burgeoning industry, is finding itself increasingly on the map. This character of sorts will interact with those living the town as the series progresses, challenging everyone to expand much like when people we love change, requiring a different outlook to keep the ties that bind firmly in place.
Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Frank Ferguson. What does he look and sound like? What is his worst fear? What or who is his heart’s desire?
Ann: Frank, as we’ve discussed, is the king of all he surveys. His parents didn’t raise him that way, but Providence deigned it would be so. That’s why, contrary to popular opinion, he doesn’t have the big head that Leigh Ann imagines. Quite the opposite. Beset by his own self-recriminations, Frank’s worst fear is that he’ll fail his family, and fail to live up to Leigh Ann’s high expectations. Although it’s masked for self-preservation, his heart’s desire is to settle down with the one woman who’s rejected him since day one, at least where it counts. His rise to rodeo fame came about after Leigh Ann rejected his teen-aged marriage proposal. But even a king can’t always get what he wants.
Alexis: What is it about Leigh Ann that is irresistible to Frank?
Ann: Frank is admittedly drawn to Leigh Ann by the challenge she represents. Competing is what he does for a living. And Leigh Ann is a beautiful woman, more alluring for having matured into life with grace, dignity, and an unwavering strength that he can’t help but admire. His attraction to her goes far deeper as he sees a part of himself in her, a vulnerability that thirsts for family and love without strings. The unconditional acceptance given to him by his family – a gift he’d be lost without – is something he longs to share with Leigh Ann. And he will, whether she reciprocates or not.
Alexis: Why did Leigh Ann reject Frank’s marriage proposal years ago?
Ann: Unlike Frank, Leigh Ann wasn’t reared in the bosom of love and kindness. She’s seen betrayal up front: broken dreams, forgotten promises, and the worst—love turned to loathing. She did love Frank. She loved him enough to let him go. That charity, though seemingly cruel, was a means to preserve the one good thing she had growing up. Seeing him now, unmarried despite his name having appeared in countless news stories associated with other women, she knows she did right. Fame is what Frank truly wanted, not the wife and family that would only tie him down and turn him sour.
Alexis: How does Frank feel when Leigh Ann re-enters his life but doesn’t want anything to do with him and what is he doing about it?
Ann: Frank isn’t surprised when Leigh Ann adopts a frosty demeanor. Her fiery temperament often expressed itself in coolness, but that was something he’d always been able to break through in the past. He secretly enjoyed the spats they used to have, although he’d never say as much, for fear that Leigh Ann would believe he was mocking her. Her parents’ infamous bouts were no joke. But Frank isn’t about to let Leigh Ann get under his skin this time. He’s determined to treat her in kind, be kind, but be cool. He can’t make her love him. But muscle memories are difficult to control, and so is the urge to uncover what’s still hurting the woman he’ll always consider a dear friend despite her angry armor.
Alexis: Why does Leigh Ann behave adversely to fame?
Ann: Leigh Ann considers fame to be a third wheel in marriage, a mistress of sorts that demands ever-increasing attention. For those who seek fame via extreme sports, the courtship involves a death dance as thrills are harder to come by. That spells anathema to a long-term love affair. For Leigh Ann has no desire to compete for a husband’s affections or give her heart to anyone who treats their life – or her love – so lightly.
Alexis: What is it about Frank that warms Leigh Ann’s heart and why does she fight her feelings for him?
Ann: Despite guarding herself, Leigh Ann can’t ignore Frank’s readiness to learn, love, and be there for his family. Yes, he was wrapped up in being the Rodeo KING, something she commented on in the stinging column about him that got her fired, but that hasn’t prevented him from humbling himself. He’s there for his family and for her, no strings attached when circumstances require. But he’s still in love with his work. Frank was born to ride, to risk, and maybe to die. Leigh Ann can’t afford to be a widow again. Her heart can’t take it. And even if Frank gave up riding, the knowledge that she can’t give him the family of his own that he still talks about keeps her guarded. She knows too well what it’s like to hunger after something you can’t have and she won’t limit Frank.
Alexis: What was your favorite moment in this story? Why?
Ann: My favorite – absolute favorite – scene in the story is where Leigh Ann struggles to soothe little David when he’s crying for his mother. Frank walks in and the resulting action is exactly the opposite of what she expects. I get misty just thinking about it. Why? There’s a lot of me in this book. I have six sisters and have had so many examples of what it means to be a woman with all manner of nuanced differences. That said, I’m pretty partial to the balloons scene as well. You’ll have to read Rodeo KING to find out what I mean!
Alexis: If you could step into this story as a licensed counselor and have a session with Frank and Leigh Ann, what would you say to help them resolve their issues with each other?
Ann: I’d ask them both, “What do you want now? Tell me without any reference to the past.”
Then I would encourage them to look to one another as they are today without the baggage. But that’s the trick. We all carry baggage and our eyes and minds are often clouded by it. That’s why we continue to unpack such similar situations across the span of our lives. The ability to move forward only happens when we’re willing to throw out those items we’ve outgrown.
As Christians, we are told to forgive one another, but often we forget to include ourselves in that number. But if we’re to succeed in loving one another as we love ourselves, there can be no true measure if we continue to beat ourselves up with a past we cannot change.
Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Rodeo King?
Ann: I don’t know, Alexis. That’s a tough one as I firmly believe that the measure of what one gets out of something is based on what is brought to the situation. Perhaps the take away is an openness to trying and never giving up hope. Leigh Ann and Frank had to become open to the prospect of trying with each other and with the circumstances presented to them. We give up too often – on ourselves and others – relying on fixed ideas instead of what God has planned. I’m glad that Leigh Ann and Frank gave way to grace and accepted the reality that happily ever after is a possibility. That’s the first step to finding it.
Alexis: Thanks for the interview! Do you have closing comments?
Ann: I’d like to thank you, Alexis, for a tough interview. I feel like I’ve spent the morning on the therapist’s couch or in a protracted discernment with my spiritual director. Both can be very good things. Difficult, but well worth the effort as the answers found therein make one live more fully and open the door for true encounters.
A believing Christian, seasoned by Providence, Ann writes about real women battling their way to a happily ever after.
Deadly situations that demand faith and perseverance feature in her romantic suspense stories. While personal demons, the kind that only faith and honest self-reflection can defeat, fill the pages of her sweet contemporary romance.
Tucked securely inside the National Capital’s outer reaches, Ann keeps busy when not writing with her husband of 32 years, three grown kids, and a little kitty named Boo.
She’s a member of RWA, FHL, ACFW, and Inked Voices.
Find out more at AnnMalleyBooks.com.
Book blurb for Rodeo King:
Widowed too young, childless, and hurting for money, Leigh Ann Lacie leaves the city behind and travels back to her home town of Wild Horse, Montana.
She hadn’t planned to bump into her high school sweetheart Frank Ferguson, now the famed Rodeo King. Fame is something she never wanted. It killed her husband.
Frank never quite got over Leigh Ann’s rejection when he proposed marriage all those years ago. Though he’s riding high on his career as a rodeo star, he’s bitter at her return. When his flighty sister dumps her twin toddlers on him, Frank makes Leigh Ann an offer she can’t refuse: to care for the children in exchange for financial aid.
Leigh Ann won’t rekindle the rocky romance with her old flame, but she has a secret reason for needing money – a secret that would devastate Frank if he knew.
As for Frank, he lives for a challenge. He won’t rest until he learns what brought Leigh Ann back to Wild Horse – and why she wants to leave again…
a Rafflecopter giveaway