Nya Rawlins has just released Mending Fences, book 6 in her Crow Creek series. She joins us for an interview.
Congratulations on the recent release of your story! It must have been a very exciting time to release your latest story. We were hoping you could share a little of your experience with your fans.
Firstly, can we talk about the cover of this story. Can you share with us a little about the cover design process, because all the covers in the series perfectly chosen telling something about the characters and the story.
Nya: My cover artist is the talented Sessha Batto. She and I have worked together for a long time, beginning way back in the dark ages when I was a publisher. We seem to be on the same wavelength when it comes to expressing the feel for each book. I choose the male models (photos, not live ones!) and sometimes the background. It helps that I have horses and a “Western-looking” landscape so I can use my own photo shoots (saves a bit of money doing that). Miss Winnie and young master Czar have figured prominently on a couple of the covers in the series.
For Mending Fences, it was an easy choice to include a Wyoming fence line along a lonely dirt road that reflected the journey of one of my favorite characters in all my books. Sessha uses the same color palette, along with layout, to give all the covers in the series a distinctive look.
Where did the inspiration for the series and also for this particular 6th story come from?
Nya: Wyoming and Colorado are like my second homes. I’ve spent many happy times packing into the mountains, riding the high country, and exploring just about every square mile you can reach, on and off-road. One of my best friends, sadly passed away, had a ranch near Laramie, Wyoming. I visited her many times over the years, learning the history and soaking up the lore of the west. I also had a rare opportunity to participate in a local rodeo as a barrel racer (no, I did not set any speed records, but I did stay on and completed three runs). And since cowboys have always been my heroes, it seemed natural to write about what I know and love so dearly. As for Mending Fences, it was the story that surprised me. I thought I would cap off the Crow Creek series with Flankman, but readers kept asking about Ben. When does Ben get his HEA? I guess that bad boy was listening because he kept whispering in my ear, teasing me until I gave up and gave in. I’m so happy I did.
Can you tell us a little about your characters, Ben and Matt?
Nya: Ben is the kind of person who wears his heart on his sleeve. He and Oak grew up together, came out together, and had each other’s backs when their respective families kicked them to the curb. He’s carried a torch for Oak most of his life. Ben is irreverent, has a wicked sense of humor, and is the one man you can count on when the going gets tough. And though he loves people and fits in wherever he goes, at heart he is a loner who wants nothing more than to give himself to the right person. Throughout the series, Ben has come up short in finding that person. While Ben is open and friendly with everyone, Matt is more of an introvert. He and Ash (Oak’s partner and husband) were boyhood friends. Growing up hiding who they were was hard on both men. Matt made a few poor choices as a teen but hoped to redeem himself by following Ash’s lead and joining the military. For eight years, he had a distinguished career until one mistake outed him and destroyed both his career and his self-esteem. When Matt returned to Crow Creek, it was to settle old scores and to try to find a measure of peace. He hadn’t planned on finding a man like Ben Kincaid who understood what it was like to live in the shadow of heartbreak.
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
Nya: Ben is a bit of a revelation in Mending Fences. Generally, he jumps in where others fear to tread, but with Matt he’s not nearly so willing to dive in the deep end like he usually does. Yes, Ben’s tremendously attracted to Matt, but he’s also been hurt so much that he’s finally learned to step back, take it slow, and let someone else lead the way for a change. And the single most important lesson he can learn—that you can love someone and still let them go—is pivotal in bringing these two men together.
Will you be writing another edition to the series?
Nya: I have a Christmas novella in mind, a reunion of all the characters, plus a few surprises on how life has unfolded for one couple especially. I can tell you there will be a very special pony and a little magic involved.
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? How do you spend your time when you are not writing?
Nya: Tending to the two horses (Mr. Bob and Czar) and the Hens from Hell, the three parakeets, and the love of my life, Little Miss Mayhem (my rescue kitty, for those who don’t know her) are what I do when I’m not writing. I’m retired from a high pressure job, so the fact I can pick and choose what I want to do with each day is a gift I take very seriously. I also love to cook, read and write reviews (for GGR-Reviews and my own site). I have a son transitioning to become my daughter, a most joyful and tremendously brave thing to do. It’s terrifying and exciting and fearsome watching her become the person she’s always wanted to be. And I am very, very proud of her.
Do you write other genres? If you do, where do you find your inspiration?
Nya: I’m a people watcher. I like nothing better than to lurk and listen. A stray word, an expression on someone’s face, a memory—all this is fodder for my stories. I do write in several different genres: YA fantasy, crime, M/F romantic comedy, paranormal, dark urban fantasy, and even science fiction romance. My characters rent apartments inside my head. They are like a Greek chorus, always demanding my attention, always surprising me with the twists and turns in their stories. I’m not sure where they came from, but I’m delighted they choose me to set down literary roots.
Can you tell us what you find the most challenging as a writer?
Nya: What’s tremendously challenging for me is to listen to my characters without prejudice, to give them the respect they deserve, and to make sure they are real, not stereotypes or cardboard mockups. Given I tend to be on the opinionated side, it’s not always easy to step back and let my characters develop at their own pace, with their own agendas, and their own way of working through the difficulties life throws at all of us. To do that, I truly have to be just the scribe, scribbling or typing as fast as I can, without inserting my own waggling finger and thou shalts into the mix. We argue now and then, especially me and Ben. I had thoughts about how this or that should go, but fortunately he had better ideas, bless that sly devil. I try hard, truly I do, not to love one of my guys more than another, but with Ben? Well, I can’t quite help myself. And no, he’s not complaining, blast his hide.
Thanks so much for having me, Lily! It’s been a pleasure to visit with you.
I read the series several times as I always felt for Ben Kincaid. He was larger than life and certainly made himself very noticeable with his attitude and behavior…but one only needs to look at him with total focus and can see how much he was hung deep down. This man had real difficulties in dealing with his demons so I was relieved that Matt came to the ranch. The stars were aligned so well for them to the point, Matt and Ben had their opportunity to get to know each other in the best possible way. I did not say it was easy. I said the best possible way and what could be better than that opportunity to be in the wilderness, of course. This story is a beautiful addition to the series, but now, I am left day dreaming and craving for more so I hope Nya Rawlyns is writing another wonderful addition.