When Western historical romance writer Lorrie Farrelly joined Women Writing the West, an organization I belong to, I didn’t think twice about reaching out. Lorrie is from Yorba Linda, Calif., a place I know well because my family lived there not long ago. Lorrie and I connected quickly and easily online. I have since come to know her as an excellent communicator, beautiful wordsmith and fun-loving gal with a warm sense of humor. One of the best things about our writer-writer relationship? She is enamored with Wyoming, my home state, in much the same way I am.
Lorrie is the author of a western historical romance trilogy and has also published contemporary romantic suspense novels and sci fi/paranormal romantic suspense novels.
TERMS OF SURRENDER, the first novel of her Western historical romance trilogy, begins in 1865 Virginia with the Surrender at Appomattox. Like so many other weary and scarred veterans of The War Between the States, a battle-hardened young man heads west, seeking a fresh start and a renewed purpose to his life. In Wyoming Territory, he finds far more challenge and far more fulfillment than he could ever have imagined.
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT continues the story, moving between Colorado and Wyoming. TERMS OF TEMPTATION wraps things up in Wyoming at the turn of the 20th century.
I am excited to share Lorrie’s beauty and words and work in today’s Writer Interview.
“Artist / Writer Interviews” spotlight working artists and writers – the spaces in which they work, where they find their inspiration, what makes them unique. I feature one artist or writer each month. If you are a working artist or writer who would like to be considered for this series, or if you want to recommend an artist or writer to interview for this series, please contact me.
Where (in what state) do you write?
I live in Southern California, and I’ve lived on the West Coast most of my life. I’ve traveled extensively in the West. I love the western landscape. Its spectacular, unparalleled beauty and forbidding, sometimes terrifying wildness has the power to inspire, humble, awe. Our fascination with the West is as irresistible and complex as the land itself.
Do you find that place – your geographic surroundings – influences your writing?
Absolutely! I write about people facing great physical and emotional adversity, but never losing their determination to prevail. Calamity can strike at any moment – not only personal disasters, but widespread ones: fire, blizzards, droughts, earthquakes, even volcanoes. Yet people persevere, rebuild, and move forward, sustained by their dreams and their visions of a better life. To me, that’s the very essence of life in the West.
Describe your writing space. How did it come into being, and why is it significant?
I once tried shutting myself up alone in a room to write, and I hated it. Even though writing is a solitary occupation, I found sitting alone was a little too much solitude. So now I write at the kitchen table, surrounded by books, papers, pets and a busy, noisy family. And I love it! I’m a master tuner-outer when I need to be; family members joke they’re going to hang a sign around my neck that says, “Huh? What’d you say?” Of course, there are often interruptions, but interruptions give me a chance to reflect on what I’ve written. It’s certainly one way to achieve balance!
When do you do your writing?
Whenever I get the chance! I think I’m most productive in the mornings, when new ideas occur to me, or in the late evening, when those ideas have percolated a while.
Where do you find inspiration for what you write?
Often it’s simply something I come upon by chance, such as a newspaper article. A small news item about a couple of compassionate Highway Patrolmen trying to save a pregnant doe struck by a car became DANGEROUS (a contemporary romantic suspense novel), while an article about animals preyed upon by poachers inspired TERMS OF TEMPTATION.
TERMS OF SURRENDER was an exceptionally emotional journey for me. It came about because I found some old family papers in a dusty cardboard box. Two were documents dated 1865 – a prisoner-of-war parole pass and an oath of allegiance. They’d been signed by my Confederate great-grandfather, William McClain, at the end of the Civil War. By so signing, he swore never again to bear arms against the United States. He also promised to abide by all new laws, including the emancipation of the slaves. If he did so, he would be allowed to go home.
I’d never seen papers like those, and I was immediately fascinated. So many questions came to mind. What did he feel at the end of the war? Defeat? Humiliation? Relief? Bitterness? What if he had no home left to go back to? And most of all, what would lead a good man to fight for a new country founded on terrible injustice? Those questions, and more, inspired my curiosity and my imagination. I read a lot, researched, and began to write.
Why do you write?
I love reading stories, so if there’s a good one in my head, I want to write it down so I can read it.
What are you working on right now? How did the project come to you, and why is it important?
I’m working on a time-travel novel with a western setting. I love the way the new and the old conflict. We all have dreams and fears, we have physical and emotional needs, we either embrace the new or are suspicious of it, and yet with us all, no matter the era, human nature stays remarkably constant. For me, it’s exciting to see familiar things through unfamiliar eyes. That element of wonder and surprise is addictive!
It’s not my first experience writing a time-travel novel. My novel, TIMELAPSE, is a time-travel/sci fi romantic adventure that takes place in Washington, D.C. I chose D.C. as the setting because my story revolves around an event that changes the course of American history, and the capitol is, after all, the nerve center of our nation.
What is one of the most important lessons you have learned through the writing process?
It can be startling to discover some of the things that reside in one’s head. Characters somehow take on a life of their own. What they are determined to do can be confoundingly different from what I want them to do.
I’ve also learned to be patient – well, more patient, anyway. Sometimes a story goes nowhere. Letting it sit may lead to an idea about how to get back on track. Or it may not. In that case, I have learned it’s best to just move on. There’s always another story waiting.
How do you balance time to write with other facets of life that demand attention?
For me, life always comes first. I love to write, but I love my family more.
Who is your favorite author? Why? How were you first exposed to this writer?
Wow, that’s like asking me my favorite flavor of ice cream! (The answer is, “Yes!”) However, if someone applied thumbscrews and forced me to choose, it would still be a dead heat among Stephen King, Nora Roberts (including her work as J.D. Robb), Harper Lee, Rod Serling, Elizabeth Lowell and Linda Howard. These are writers who grip me by the imagination and the heart and never let go! Their work may seem straightforward and accessible, but they are, in fact, incredibly gifted artists who use words to create images, ideas, actions and amazingly vivid, full-of-life characters.
Do you find that seasons inform your work?
Seasons? I live in Southern California. What are these “seasons” of which you speak? Actually, I struggle with seasons. I realized in an early draft of TERMS OF TEMPTATION that I had a cougar rolling around on a warm, sunny patch of Wyoming high ground – in winter. I had to go back and add snow. Oh, and I did briefly address the issue in DANGEROUS, when a character jokes that California does actually have four seasons: fire, earthquake, drought, and mud.
Who have been some of your biggest influences?
As a kid, my favorite TV shows were “Bonanza” and “The Twilight Zone.” “Bonanza” showed the importance of courage, love, integrity and loyalty, but never neglected the excitement and peril of the Old West. “The Twilight Zone,” despite its supernatural and otherworldly settings, simply and brilliantly illuminated what it means to be human. The stories showed us who we are, how we love, what we believe in and what we fear, how we treat each other, what carries us forward and what derails us. “Twilight Zone’s” immensely gifted writers – Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Earl Hamner, Jr, etc. – were enormous influences to me. Ever since, everything I write has at least a touch of the paranormal, and sometimes much more than a touch. (My novel, THE GAURDIAN’S ANGEL, is a full-blown paranormal romantic suspense.) In fact, a certain stubborn young man – really no more than a boy – who considers his death on the Antietam battlefield to be little more than an inconvenience, has become one of my most popular characters.
LORRIE FARRELLY is the author of a Western historical romance trilogy, contemporary romantic suspense novels, and sci fi/paranormal romantic suspense novels. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Northwestern University, she’s been a Renaissance nominee for Teacher of the Year, a ranch hand at Disneyland’s Circle D Ranch, and a “Jeopardy!” television quiz show champion. Her novels have earned READERS’ FAVORITE 5 STAR AWARDS, and TERMS OF SURRENDER is an ORANGE ROSE AWARD finalist. Lorrie and her family live in Southern California.
Lorrie’s books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks here.
Watch a clip for TERMS OF SURRENDER (which features some spectacular Western scenery shots) here.
Connect with Lorrie:
Personal website: https://sites.google.com/site/yourbestreads