Where are you from? Born and raised on the Harrison Ranch outside of Sweetwater, Kansas. Been no further than Kansas City for the beef auctions and see no reason to. I like where I am.
Tell us a bit about Harrison Ranch. As I said, I like it right fine. My parents were a little older than most when I was born so they passed when I was still young. No where near enough experience to run a ranch on my own. My father’s right-hand-man, Sully, raised me the rest of the way. A great horseman and pretty good cattle man to boot. We made the ranch into what it is today. Made my father proud even if I say so myself. Callie has only added to the homestead. Making me into more than a ranch hand. She’s welcomed so many and made the place into a home. Probably more like what it would have been had my mother lived longer.
What did you think the first time you saw Callie? I thought there was a kid who’d climbed up on top of the counter after something. Shocked me so, I yelled a warning and ended up startling Callie into falling. I near broke my neck catching her before she hit the floor. What was your second thought? I knew I wasn’t holding a kid, that’s for dang sure. She may be small but Callie’s all woman. Simply a smaller version than most.
Was it love at first sight? Not love. I was still coming to grips with the fact my new cook was female and pretty and young. I wasn’t expecting any of that you can be sure. Wouldn’t have allowed such a pretty woman near all those horn… um, unmarried ranch hands. Women on a ranch means problems. Nothing more than that. Otherwise, I like women just fine.
What do you like most about her? You mean besides her looks? Probably that she can think for herself. Nothing seems to stop her from doing what needs to be done. Not her size, not her lame foot, not her energy. She simply keeps going…even when I don’t think its best.
How would you describe her? Pretty and smart and way too good for the likes of me but I’m not telling her that. I was lucky she is as independent as she is. Otherwise she may have hared off when we first met. I wasn’t very welcoming but the rest of the men let me know if she went, then so would they. Never thought a good cook would mean the difference between having ranch hands or not.
How would she describe you? Probably, pigheaded. Stuck in my ways. Unappreciative. Only a half-broke mustang. Maybe, even typical male.
What made you choose ranching as a career? For me there wasn’t any other choice. I went to school with the neighbor boys, the Macgregors. Their mother and father would teach us. The four sons had to take piano lessons as well as reading, writing and arithmetic. Sully taught me every thing else I needed to know.
What is your biggest fear? I’m afraid of losing Callie. She’s tough but she was raised in a big city. Worked in a fancy hotel restaurant. Is used to having certain amenities around her. I’m afraid she’ll want to return there although she’s been bringing in so many other orphans from St. Michaels it seems like we’re starting our own orphanage right there on the ranch. Callie’s like a magnet for those in trouble or looking for a home. I guess it’s another reason I love her.
How do you relax? H-mmm, ride out over my land. Stop out by the pond on Sweetwater. As long as Callie’s with me, I’m happy. I’m content.
Who is your favorite fictional character? Fictional? You mean like in a book? I mostly read cattle and ranching periodicals. Not much for reading just to read. I guess someone from the Bible. Moses – he led his people to freedom and happiness.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? That was from Sully. He told me to get a ring on Callie’s finger before someone else. Best thing I ever did.
We thank you for spending time with us, Seth. Now we'd like to chat with Susan.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? Barbara Cartland. She wrote sweet romances but could describe a dress or hair style like no other. Her books were a little predicable but always a happy-ever-after. I have recently read a trope that called such books ‘costume porn’ which made me laugh out loud. Readers lived vicariously through the gowns and jewels in all her novels. She wrote a lot of Cinderella style stories – from destitute to duke’s wife.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? I listen to my characters and their particular voice. When I first tried writing years ago, I wasn’t happy with the outcome. Everything I wrote seemed forced and insipid. Now I listen to my characters as they tell me what happened and why. How their life experiences formed what and who they were when I meet them. They may change further after we meet but I always know them. Know what they would or wouldn’t do and why. I’m no longer trying to guide or push them into a mold. To do this or that because it’s time.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? The Wild Rose Press was releasing a friend’s book and when I checked them out found they would help authors self-publish. I knew Sweetwater would be difficult to publish as it is, so I decided to do so myself.
What book[s] currently rest on your TBR pile? So many – and mostly historical. All eras. I love visiting people from decades ago to eons ago. Seeing how we are still similar even if we have evolved. How what happened then formed the way we deal with things now. I enjoy learning about how England changed one way and America changed another even if we basically started out with the same laws, language, etc.
Lastly, what's up next and when can we expect to see it on the shelves? I am planning on continuing to publish the Sweetwater series. Three more books with two stories each. Hopefully all out by June 2020. I also have one under contract with Literary Wanderlust, Montana Lineman, releasing prior to end of 2020.
Harrison Ranch and Macgregor's Mail Order Bride (Sweetwater) is available in paperback and e-book through most online book sellers at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1509230289/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_i_KTqcEbAF0P1DV
To learn more about Susan Payne and the stories she creates, go to: http://authorsusanpayne.com
Susan brought an excerpt from Harrison Ranch:
Seth wasn’t wearing his hat and held the plate out in front of him, a hesitant smile on his lips as he said, rather too robustly, “Miss Callie, this sure smells great. Thought I’d come down and have a meal with the rest of the men.”
Callie looked down at the roast and fought her instincts to yell, throw something, cry or run - anything to get away from this man. Instead, she pulled on some inner strength and searched around in the bottom of the pan for the piece of roast end she hadn’t planned on serving.
Picking it up between the fork and knife blade, she slapped it onto the empty plate. The au jus splashed on to Seth’s shirt and vest but only a slight flutter of his left eyelid indicated he was aware of it.
Callie raised the full ladle and inquired, “Au jus?”
The entire row of men stepped back toward the door as one cohesive unit and stared with wide eyes at the hypnotizing drama playing out before them.
Seth politely replied, “Thank you, no.”