Monday, 21 March 2011

Author Spotlight week - Q&A with Barbara Scott

STEPH: I don't know much about West of Heaven. What's it about?

BARBARA: West of Heaven is a Western romance set on the cattle trail. Assumed orphan, Marcella McGovern comes to Texas for the reading of the will of her unknown benefactress, Sophie Castleman. To her shock, she discovers that not only was the woman her mother, but the owner of the local house of ill repute, Sophie was killed along with Marcella's secret father, a cattle baron.. Marcella inherits the bawdy house and all her father's marketable cattle. When her father's widow issues the ultimatum to take the cattle or pay an outrageous price for their keep, Marcella turns to disgraced trail boss Jean Luc Desloge and Sophie's unemployed "ladies" for help.

STEPH: Where did the inspiration for the novel come from?

BARBARA: The characters inspired the story. Jean Luc (Lucky) came to me while I was writing Listen With Your Heart. He was a cowboy so I had to write a Western for him. Marcella and Sophie's girls are based in the work life I had. No, I did not work in a bawdy house, but I did work with mostly female middle school educators. I thought it would be fun to cast that teamwork and spirit in a totally foreign environment.

STEPH: Where is it set? How important is the setting to the novel?

BARBARA: West of Heaven starts in the fictional south Texas town of Onion Creek where cattle is king. It them tales the cattle trail north to Abilene, Kansas. The year is 1871, the year which marked the peak traffic of the historic cattle trail, The setting dictates the plots progression, but it's what happens between departure and destination that's all important.

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research?

BARBARA: I enjoy researching so it was no burden, but, yes, I had to start from scratch on this one, I've never lived in the West, never been near a longhorn, and I've seen one rodeo in my life. The last time I was on a horse was in Girl Scouts. Consequently, I had to research everything for cowboy clothes to grub, to horse terminology. I tend to research before and during a project. This time I researched up to the copy edit. A question asked by this final editor lead t a discovery that changed a big scene near the end of the book.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

BARBARA This book was written in bits and pieces, but the last two-thirds was written in three months.

STEPH: Cast the movie. Who are the leads?

BARBARA: I love casting my books as movies. My problem is the actors keep getting older. The longer the book takes to write and get published, the more often you have recast the roles. At this point, I see Jason Ritter as Jean Luc, Marcella could be played by Alexis Bledell, Rose McGowan could be Polly, and I see Sara Rue as Queenie. I'd cast Eriq LaSalle as Jasper and Nate Corddry as Charles.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

BARBARA: I used to have a spare bedroom to myself, but we moved and my space is now part of the family room., I had to cut back half my book shelves, so I had to donate a ton of books . I'm down one set of file drawers which has made me think twice about what I keep. Working in the family room, I'm less isolated, but I've always been able to work with distractions. I think that ability comes from growing up in split grade classrooms where you never worked in complete silence

STEPH:. Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

BARBARA: I read ebooks my iPhone and computer.

STEPH: What was the last book you read?

BARBARA: Strangely enough, it was Moby Dick. I'm toying with the idea of writing a book called Ahab's Daughter.

STEPH: For Fun: What country would you like to visit that you haven't all ready?

BARBARA: I have to pick Ireland. Both sides of my family have roots there. I researched locales for Listen With Your Heart that I would love to see in person.


Barbara's book, West of Heaven, will be avail from Desert Breeze on 15 April. Here's a link:


  1. Hi Barb -
    Well, you know I love a good Western! lol
    This one sounds great.
    The cover is beautiful. Here's to many, many sales:)

  2. Barbara, what a unique idea. I love the "ladies" driving cattle! Can't wait to read this book. Congratulations.

  3. Barb,

    I remember this story from Core. Now I can finally read the rest of it. Congratulations.

  4. Barbara, this sounds like a fun book. I love Western settings but have never written one because I know nothing of the historical West. You give me instpiration to research and give it a try. Linda