Today Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome physician Alexandra Winters and Nicole McCaffrey, creator of Northern Temptress, a recent American Rose release out of The Wild Rose Press. Welcome Alex and Nicole!
Alex, please tell us a bit about Northern Temptress. My story takes place in July, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg. I am a female physician, living in Gettysburg when it is invaded by the Southern army. I’ve just returned to my hometown after a scandalous divorce and I realized this was an opportunity to silence the gossips and show them what I am capable of. That goal was somewhat impeded by a certain Confederate major posting rebel guards at my home.
What did you think the first time you saw Major Caleb McKenna? I thought he was an arrogant ass. He was chasing a reb foot soldier from my porch, and I was grateful—until he tried to give me orders, as though I were one of his men. The Southern army had just invaded our streets and this foot soldier tried to force his way into my home. There was some debate between the Major and I as to whether the solider was attracted by the smell of the bread I was baking, or the sight of my young, pretty cousin peering out the window. Regardless, I had the situation fully under control but it is so like Caleb to want to rescue a damsel in distress. Even if she’s not in actual distress.
Unh huh. And your second thought? That his twilight blue eyes would look better in a Federal uniform of deep blue than they did in Confederate gray --and that his face was saved from being too pretty only by the dimple in his chin.
Did you think it was love at first sight? Not at all. I was preoccupied with this monumental battle taking place all but on my doorstep and never expected to see him again. Did I mention what an arrogant ass he is? No, certainly not love at first sight.
What do you like most about him? His sense of duty, his nobility and his damn Southern honor.
How would you describe him? Arrogant, poetic, noble, a true Southern gentleman.
Okay, and how would he describe you? He has called me the most frustrating, stubborn woman he’s ever met.
What made you choose the healing arts for a profession? My father is the town doctor and my grandmother delivered most of the babies born in this town in the last twenty years. I accompanied them both as an apprentice and learned to appreciate my father’s skill as a physician and Grammy’s use of herbs and homemade tonics to cure, as well. But I didn’t want to spend my life as a midwife; I wanted to heal, to help. So I became a physician—no easy road for a woman in the 1860s.
What is your biggest fear? Not being taken seriously as a physician simply because I’m female.
Thank you, Alex. Now, tell us how you relax. I’m not sure I ever do. A cup of coffee on the front porch at the end of the day, or a good book. But I’m usually far too busy to relax and too tired to stay awake long enough to read.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Oliver Twist. He’s an orphan who survives and thrives against all odds. I truly admire his courage and tenacity in the face of adversity after adversity.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? That would be from Major McKenna himself. He told me to “treat the ones you can, let the rest go.” It was a hard bit of advice to swallow during the raging three day Battle of Gettysburg when young men and boys were dying all around me. I wanted to save all of them, even the rebs. But much to my consternation, he was right; I had to focus on helping those I could.
Quite the female character you created, Nicole. We'd like to know a bit about you. What movies or books have had an impact on your writing?
Oh my gosh, there are so many. Movies—Gone with the Wind, Gettysburg and the old 80s miniseries, The Blue and the Gray, took that spark of interest I had in the Civil War and turned it into a raging inferno. Ditto the book Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell truly immerses the reader into that dreamy world of the old south and the Civil War years, it’s a place I return to again and again. Other books would be any of Johanna Lindsay or Pamela Morsi’s early works, I firmly believe in not just reading and re-reading the works of our favorite authors but dissecting them to figure out how they made me feel this or that, or how they put me right there in that place and time. They really are our best writing teachers.
Tell us a bit about your publisher. How did you hear about them? I’ve known about The Wild Rose Press for many years now and their reputation for quality and growing authors.
What influenced your decision to submit to them?The goal of their historical lines has always been to bring variety to their readers. I’m a huge fan of American historical romance, so they were the right fit for my stories.
Tell us a bit about the submission process. How long did it take from query to release? It took a little while, but it was no fault of the publisher. I’d actually submitted it a few years earlier, then panicked and pulled it—I didn’t feel I had done my characters justice. I re-submitted spring of last year and it came out in January, so probably about six months from start to finish.
What are you reading now? I just started reading “Champion of Sherwood” by Laura Strickland. I love her unique take on the legend of Robin Hood.
What's in the offing? I've been working on a follow-up story to Wild Texas Wind off and on for awhile now and not having much success. [I also took some time away from writing after my dad passed away last fall.] Kip Cooper, the confidence man/gambler/peddler pan/master of disguise was such a popular secondary character in WTW he really needed his own story and readers have asked for one. But part of Kip's charm is that he is a scoundrel and a rascal –so turning him into a hero worthy of his own story hasn't been easy. I think I'm on the right track now. In Texas Wild Card, he will struggle to stay on a straight and narrow path, but finds himself flirting with his old ways when he's blackmailed into helping the town spinster land a husband.
Nicole, thanks so much for bringing the fascinating Alexandra, a woman way ahead of her time, to visit us.
Kat and Veronica
To learn more about Nicole McCaffrey and the stories she creates go to: www.nicolemccaffrey.com
To purchase Northern Temptress visit The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.