|HENRY McLAUGHLIN ~~ WESTERNS WITH HEART|
Debra here...pleased to present Henry McLaughlin. His writing doesn't fall easily into one category: Western. Historical. Suspense. I hope that sounds as intriguing to you as it did to me! To celebrate the upcoming release of his second book in the Riverbend Sagas series, Henry agreed to visit the Inkwell, and answer my questions.
Did you choose characters from Journey to Riverbend for your second book, Riverbend Justice, or did they choose you?
It was a little bit of both actually. The story of Michael and Rachel was not complete at the end of the first book. Their ongoing story propelled me into the second book. They wouldn’t let me go. Rachel woke me up one night and said, “Hey, we’re not finished. Get to work with the rest of the story.”
Riverbend Justice takes their relationship to new depths as they both continue to deal with the wounds and hurts of the past and trying to develop trust in each other for the future.
In the opening of book two, Michael’s wounds are raw and fresh because of what he had to do at the end of the first book. His past rears up its ugly head and attacks him from page one of the new story.
Rachel fights to maintain her independence while also trying to figure how to let herself love Michael, especially when he seems destined to return to his old ways.
In their journey in book two, they face the crises of the death of their relationship as well as physical death. The story of Riverbend Justice is how they face these dangers while striving to clear the name of an innocent man.
Jeremiah Turner and Sheriff Caleb Davis also play prominent roles in the new story as they try to help Michael get back on track and solve the mystery while villains are trying to kill them.
New characters needed to come into play for book two to work. It was exciting to work with them and discover their unique characteristics, their desires and goals, and their determination to keep secrets.
The conflict they added to the story pulled me deeper into the writing and led me into what I call serendipitous discoveries of the layers we can peel back to bring our characters to life.
Some characters grab on and don't let go! Great for the author and the reader.
Tell us a bit about your writing journey. Was it always in your heart to write suspense?
I’ve always loved to read. My favorite genres are Westerns, mysteries and suspense, science fiction and fantasy. The more suspenseful the better.
I dabbled in writing for many years. In 2002, I woke from a near-death experience after cardiac surgery with a burning drive to write. I knew it was God calling me into a new season. I had dabbled with Journey to Riverbend for years. Now it was time to get serious. I took courses through the Christian Writers Guild, joined ACFW, participated in critique, attended conferences and workshops. And I found a mentor, DiAnn Mills, who would not let me quit.
In 2009, Journey to Riverbend won the Operation First Novel contest and was published in 2011.
Since then, I’ve continued to write and stretch myself in the craft. I keep studying and have been blessed to be able to teach at conferences and workshops. As writers, we can never stop learning and trying to get better. We will never reach perfection in this life but we owe it to our readers, and to God, to get as close as we can.
Your first book surprised some readers with its honest portrayal of frontier life. Did this impact your writing for the second book? (by the way, I'm all for those details!)
In the second book, I owe the readers and characters that honest portrayal of frontier life. It adds realism to the story world. I enjoyed doing the research to make sure I got the details right. And I also enjoyed blending that research so it supported the story but didn’t overwhelm it with unnecessary or distracting information.
What's your favorite place to vacation?
The best vacation I’ve ever had was on Maui and I look forward to going back someday.
Our children are scattered from Missouri to New Jersey to Rhode Island to New Hampshire. So our favorite vacation is traveling to see them. The trips are never long enough but the memories are priceless.
I think everyone who's been to Hawaii says they hope to return, and I hope you do, too.
Your fiction should be popular with both women and men. Has this made marketing easier or more of a challenge?
I’m hoping this book will appeal to both women and men. It’s not a straight romance. It is a suspense story with a strong romantic element.
It’s also my first step in self-marketing.
Marketing is always a challenge for me. I think it is for a lot of writers. I wish I had some profound words of wisdom, the magic formula. But I don’t. I’m working with a friend who does marketing and she’s given me some great ideas. But I have to get out there and implement them.
People say word-of-mouth is the best advertisement and I can see the value in this. For me, it usually takes a recommendation from someone I trust to pick up a new author.
I study marketing in the industry, read blogs, take courses, listen to webinars. Then I sit and realize I still don’t really know what to do. A lot of it comes from being an introvert. I’m so shy I don’t even talk to myself.
It took a lot to reach out to people to ask for their help in spreading the word. The response has been heartwarming.
Thanks for visiting, Henry! Being an author has become an exercise in juggling all aspects of publication, and more so just in the last couple of years. I wish you much success with the second book and more word-of-mouth for the series.
In the 1870s American West, Michael Archer, wracked by guilt over having killed once again, embarks on a mission to clear the name of a man wrongly executed for murder.
When he is beaten and shot, and an innocent young girl is taken hostage, and his beloved Rachel Stone is wounded, he puts aside physical pain and his own fears to seek the killers.
Now that he has found the villains, he must survive a life or death struggle with powerful enemies to reveal the truth and save those he holds most dear.
Award winning author Henry McLaughlin Lives in North Texas where he writes, teaches and coaches. He writes to take his readers on adventures into the hearts and souls of his characters as they fight to bring justice in a dark world.
Publishers Weekly tagged him as “one to watch.”
Visit him at http://www.henrymclaughlin.org
Purchase book one, Journey to Riverbend via Amazon