Interview with historical romance author Allison Merritt

Today’s guest is historical romance
author Allison Merritt. Our feature is her new novel The Wrong Brother’s Bride.
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Bio:
A love of reading inspired Allison
Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical,
paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a
small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she’s not
writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.
Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks
in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that’s gathering
dust after it was determined that she’s better at writing fluff than hard news.
Welcome,
Allison. Please tell us about your current release.
The
Wrong Brother’s Bride

is about a man and a woman who always believed they were too different to be a
couple. August O’Dell’s brother fell in love with Loyal Redfearn when they were
children and vowed to marry her. It wasn’t until sometime later that August
himself developed feelings for Loyal, but his drunken and often absentee father
influenced his life for the worse and eventually August realized if he was ever
going to make something out of himself, he had to leave Wilson township. Years
later, he receives a letter from Loyal, stating his brother died in a farming
accident and if he can come, Loyal needs his help running the farm. No matter where
he went or how he tried to move on, he never forgot her, so he doesn’t hesitate
to go to her. When he arrives, she drops a bombshell on him—they weren’t
married yet, but she’s carrying his brother’s baby. He proposes to help her
save face and she reluctantly agrees. Years away from Wilson township has
changed August for the better and he only hopes he can prove to Loyal that he’s
a better man than the boy who left. Just when he’s won her love, an incident
from the past comes back to haunt him and it might destroy everything he’s worked
for since returning.
What
inspired you to write this book?
The Wilson’s Creek area in
southwestern Missouri is near my home. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield has
long been a fascinating place for me. It was the first major battle of the
Civil War across the Mississippi River and it interrupted the lives of many
families living in the area. One of the original houses stands on the property
and it was the inspiration for the house where my hero and heroine get married
and make their family. I love visiting the house and thinking about what life
would have been like in the 19th century (hot and hard mostly). The
setting had been in my mind for a while, and I found the perfect characters to
fit into a story there. They’re both wounded by the past, but they’ll find
happiness in being together.
Excerpt:
She hugged Jeremiah’s pillow,
breathing his lingering scent. The aching wound left by his loss gaped wide.
In the kitchen, she heard a floorboard
squeak. Loyal choked back another sob, holding her breath as she waited for
August to return to his room or come to hers. The curtains fell against the
window as the breeze died.
“Loyal?”
August’s soft call made her tense. She
could ignore him, pretend she hadn’t heard, but too many nights she’d been
alone. Grief brought with it some puzzling emotions. It had been a relief when
their friends left her alone at the farm after the funeral. And so lonely she
thought she’d go mad if she didn’t hear another human voice. Trying to sort
through what she felt now made her long for the sleep she’d missed the last
week.
“I know you’re awake. I heard you
crying.”
She sniffed, wiping her eyes with the
back of her hands. “I thought you were asleep. I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“No. May I come in?” His voice was
muffled through the door. “I’d like a word with you.”
“Just a moment.” One of Jeremiah’s
flannel shirts draped across the foot of the bed where she’d left it this
morning. She drew it over her shoulders and slipped her arms through the
sleeves, pulling the loose ends around herself. Striking a match, she lit the
lamp on the bedside table. “Come in.”
The door opened and August filled the
frame. In the lamplight, his eyes seemed bluer than she remembered, like the
sky after rain. Both O’Dell brothers had gotten their looks from their father,
but August stood straighter than his old man ever had. His wide shoulders
strained against his tan shirt. He scratched the scruff shadowing his jaw.
“I can’t sleep.”
She frowned. There must be something
she could do to make him more comfortable. “Is it the bed? Do you need
different blankets? Or maybe it’s because you didn’t eat.”
He shook his head. “Wandering mind.
It’s partly because we got off on a bad foot. It isn’t easy to admit I’m wrong.
I shouldn’t have acted like you don’t belong here. Seeing you brought back
memories about the way your daddy treated us. And how Jeremiah stopped having
time for me when he met you.”
August swallowed. His Adam’s apple
jumped in his throat. “Even if you don’t think marriage is right, there’s a
place for you here. I’d like to help raise your son or daughter the way he
would have wanted. That’s all.”
Loyal couldn’t speak. Surely the world
was ending if August was apologizing for his actions. His father had never
admitted his wrongs in his life. Her worry that August would follow his
father’s path faded.
“That’s all,” he repeated and backed
into the hall.
“Wait.” She swung her feet to the
floor and padded across the room, craning her neck to look at him.
“Thank you, August.”
“I heard you crying and I thought…”
He must have been sitting in the
kitchen before he knocked on her door. She waved her hand, dismissing his
reasoning. “I wasn’t crying because of you. Lately I can’t help it.”
He seemed a little more at ease,
though he would probably grow sick of her tears before a week had passed. She
had.
She reached out, slipping her hands
beneath his arms. He didn’t move for a moment, even when she clasped her hands
behind his back. Her cheek pressed against the soft material of his shirt and
she closed her eyes. August wrapped his strong arms around her shoulders, and
his breath stirred her hair.
She clung to him as though she was a
leaf and he was the root, an anchor in the storm.
For a moment, everything was alright.
She had the farm, a child growing beneath her heart, and a strong partner to
care for her. She stepped back, knowing what she had to do now.
August’s arms fell at his sides. His
face changed and she was sure she saw the briefest flash of disappointment.
“Good night, Loyal.”
A knot formed in her throat. Jeremiah
was gone, but his brother was offering to take his place. She inhaled, catching
a faint whiff of leather that clung after his long ride and a scent that was
all his own.
“Wait.”
He stood unmoving, watching her with a
bemused gaze.
“August, I’ll marry you. For the baby.
As long as we’re clear that Jeremiah is the father and we’re just friends.” Her
throat scratched as she forced the words out.
“In name only.” His face was guarded.
“Yes.”
“Alright. Is your daddy—”
She dug her fingernails into her palm.
“He won’t perform the ceremony, much less come.”
He nodded. “I’ll ask someone else.”
For a moment he was quiet. “It’ll be alright, Loyal. I’m here.”
When he turned, she didn’t stop him.
Tears rolled down her face. He couldn’t know Jeremiah had said almost the same
words when she told him she was pregnant.
What
exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently working on two books.
One is a contemporary western romance that takes places in Oklahoma and focuses
around a makeup artist and a cowboy who is the star of a reality show kind of
like The Bachelor. Of course, he falls in love with the makeup artist instead
of the girls he’s supposed to be wooing. The other is a historical romance
that’s also set in the Wilson’s Creek area about a woman who finds a ticket and
boards a train to Springfield, Missouri. She pretends to be the hero’s proxy
bride after a tragedy strikes.
When
did you first consider yourself a writer?
I made up a lot of stories when I was
young, but think it really struck me that I wanted to write and keep writing in
junior high school. I have a slew of really bad writings from back then. I
stopped writing for about 5 years after my dad died and it wasn’t until late
2008 that I decided to get back on the writing pony. I started writing romances
in a couple of different genres and haven’t looked back.
Do
you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do
other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I could call myself a full-time
writer. I have a day job that eats up 8 and ½ hours Monday through Friday, but
it’s in a cozy office, heat in winter, air in the summer, so I can’t complain
too much. I’ve never been a morning person, so I usually writing in the
evenings after work or on weekends. I try to get 1,000 words minimum per day
and often go over, but sometimes I just can’t hit the mark.
What
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I always said I was never a plotter,
always a pantser, but the more I look back on what happens when I finish a
first draft, the more I think I’m just a really detailed plotter who has to
write a 60,000 word plot first.
As
a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A ballerina, a doctor, an oil baron, a
ranch owner, a jockey, a paleontologist, and a writer.
Anything
additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m really happy to announce that a
follow-up book to The Wrong Brother’s
Bride
will be coming out next year. I just signed the contract at the end
of March, and I’m excited to say that Loyal and August make a little appearance
in it as well.
Oooh,
congrats! Thanks for being here today, too!

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