Monday, June 6, 2011

Interview with Sarah McNeal

Sarah McNeal is the author of memorable characters you're sure to fall in love with. Let's give Sarah a warm welcome!

***Contest info at the end of the interview. Enjoy!

Tell the readers a little about yourself:

I'm a published writer of contemporary, fantasy and time travel/historical romances. I'm currently writing a series of musical instrument stories inspired by my love of music. You can find my novels at Amira Press and Victory Tales Press/Western Trail Blazer line.

Without giving too much away, tell the readers about your new release, Hamonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. Is this a series? If so, how many books will there be?

It’s about a woman with a chaotic childhood longing for a better life, who falls into the past and finds a man full of secrets and a dark history—and she’s married to him.

I didn’t intend to write a sequel when I started out but I fell in love with the secondary character, a young man named Banjo, who was raised in a brothel and on his own by the age of ten. I am working on Banjo’s story right now. Then I’m going to let it go.

Joseph Wilding is the hero of your tale. What kind of man is he? When Lola takes Callie’s place, what is Joseph’s first impression of her? Does he notice the change right away?

Joe Wilding has had his share of knocks. He believes he is responsible for his younger brother’s death and feels that his father wishes it were him instead of his brother who died. He pretends to be a veterinarian instead of a medical doctor, afraid he will make the same mistakes.

Joe doesn’t believe that Lola is who she claims to be. He believes she is the disreputable, Callie McGraw. Lola likes animals, treats people fairly and doesn’t try to steal him blind so, yeah, he notices there are some differences but he doesn’t trust her worth spit. He thinks Callie is pretending to be nice because she’s up to no good. It will take something irrefutable for him believe that Lola is who she claims to be.

Tell us a little about Lola. How did she find herself in 1910? What is her first impression of Joseph?

Lola’s father died when she was young and her life went rapidly downhill after that. Her mother succumbs to grief by using drugs and alcohol. Moving from one ratty trailer park to another, often without electricity or food, her mother finally overdoses leaving Lola on her own barely out of high school. Determined to rise above the shame and deprivation of her life, Lola works her way through college bartending in the hope of becoming a lawyer. Just when she thinks she has finally caught a break upon inheriting a rundown plantation, she ends up falling into a mysterious old trunk right into 1910 and just married to a complete stranger.

Lola doesn’t like Joe one bit. Very frankly, she thinks he’s an arrogant jackass. But she also sees his underlying sorrow. When he saves his dog’s life and, later, Banjo’s life, she quickly sees there is a kinder, gentler Joe than she first imagined.

If you could time travel to any century, where would you go and why?

I have a complete fascination for the early years of the twentieth century from 1900-1940. Suddenly America went from frontier towns and horses to automobiles, electricity and motion pictures. It has been said by historians that the happiest time in American history was from 1910 to 1915.

Do you have a favorite reference book or favorite website?

Although I have several wonderful reference books, my favorite is Remember When a book about the many changes that took place in America and the world from 1900-1940. Every page is filled with illustrations and photographs of those years. It covers everything from big industrial changes to social evolution. Women went from long hair and dresses to short skirts and bobbed hair, smoking cigarettes and, I’d just like to mention the vote. Believe it or not, Wyoming was the first state in the Union to pass into law the right for women to vote. Now there’s a state to be proud of. That is why I decided to make it the state where Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride takes place.

What are your current projects and works in progress?

I am presently deep into writing Banjo’s story. Banjo, as I mentioned earlier, was the sixteen year old abandoned boy in Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. He drank liquor, smoked cigars, cussed and learned everything the soiled doves in the brothel could teach him about the art of pleasing a woman. But Banjo also has a talent for inventing mechanical wonders and wants to prove himself worthy of his childhood friend, Matilda Rose O’Leary.

Tell the readers where they can find you:

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

Readers are the most important people on the planet for authors. I always appreciate their input, likes and dislikes. If readers don’t like your work, you’re doomed. Another thing I feel is important for readers to know is that they have power and should be respected. I hate to see it when a reader compliments an author and the author ignores them. Who do they think is buying their books? So readers, let your voices be heard.

*** Contest: Answer this question: If you could time travel, where would you want to visit?

Sarah will pick one lucky winner for the drawing. Winner's choice of either her time travel historical (1927), The Violin or her contemporary (the only one she's ever written), Bitter Notes.

Don't forget to leave your email address so Sarah may contact you if you should win! Good Luck!

Blurb for Hamonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny.

Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?


With a raised brow, he stared at her for a moment as if scrutinizing her thoughts. “You sure are talking peculiar.” He pulled her toward the door, speaking to her as she tried to keep up with his long strides and trying in vain to lock her knees and resist his grip on her. “Weston Taylor isn’t going to give up trying to get his money back, Callie. He’s mean and persistent. What did you take it for in the first place? You know how much his money means to him, like a bible to a preacher. I’m sure it means even more to the innocent, hard working people he took it from on the train.”

He gave her a stern look and added, “You know he killed a six-year-old girl and her mother who resisted when he demanded her wedding ring. Shot them dead on the spot, without a drop of remorse, just turned his back and walked away as they lay bleeding to death on the floor.”

The news that Weston Taylor was capable of killing a young woman and a child made the blood freeze in Lola’s veins. She knew now that her life stood in peril just as Harmonica Joe had said. What was she to do now? Where could she find refuge? Lola resisted against the darkening tide pulling her out to a vast and deep ocean of indescribable dangers. Where did he plan to take her? In her mind, she envisioned a remote forest where no one would hear her screams. She remembered Oprah Winfrey’s warning on her show about women and self-defense--Never let them take you to the second location.

Why did he keep calling her Callie? How many Callies were there in her time or this? Not many to be sure. Funny, Callie was her ancestral aunt’s name. A little thought pricked the back of her brain. Could she have fallen into her Great-great-aunt Callie’s life? How was that even possible? Well, here she was in some other time zone so that made most anything possible. Her mind went fuzzy. She would have to sort this out later.

In the meantime, she forced her thoughts into her present situation. Even though her nerves shrieked for her to resist as he pulled her closer and closer to the door and the great unknown, she summoned all her courage to pretend a boldness she did not feel. “That’s not my name. It’s Lola. Why would you want to marry me? I’ve never seen you before in my life. Who is Weston? And, by the way, Mister Know-It-All, I didn’t take anybody’s money. If I had, I would have bought a ticket out of this nightmare and gone back to L.A. on the first plane out of here.”

A quizzical brow lifted and a grin flickered across his sensual lips. “L.A.? Plane? I don’t know what you’re jawing about but I can tell you right now, that Weston isn’t going to let you go without getting his money back. I would think you would know that by now after all the times he’s beaten you and threatened to kill you. You’ll be safer if you stick with me.”

His smile displayed sparkling white teeth. “Besides, I won you from him in a poker game. That card in your hand, Queen of Diamonds, was the winning card. I’d treasure it forever if I were you.”

Available at Western Trail Blazer Novels

Available at

Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores

Also available in print


Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Karen, I want to thank you so much for this interview. I appreciate it so much. You have a gorgeous website, girl. Very pretty. Thanks again.

Rebecca J Vickery said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah and Karen,
Wonderful interview. Harmonica Joe is an excellent story. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I hope you still have plans to write Banjo's story. I like the question about Time Travel and am torn between two time periods:
the Roaring 20s or 100 years in the future. The 20s appeal to me as a fun time in our history when women were beginning to come out from under male domination. And who wouldn't like to see what will be different in a 100 years? LOL
Please don't put me in the contest as I have your books, but I wanted to drop by and leave a hug for both of you. {((:-)))}

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Rebecca, I love that you came by and left a comment. Thank you for your kind words. I am in the middle of writing Banjo. I have found a new love. Banjo was a character in Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride that just pulled on my heart strings. He's a lot tougher on the outside than he is on the inside.
Thank you again for dropping by because I know how busy you are and that makes me appreciate it all the more.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Sarah, I'm glad to have you!

Talk about websites-- I've always loved yours. Really lovely!!

Thank you for sharing your new release with us!

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips


Thanks for the hugs-- right back at you!

I have Harmonica Joe loaded in my Kindle. Now if I can find a moment to sneak away and indulge, I'm set.

Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes said... Best Blogger Tips

Wonderful interview, and thank you for sharing your world and books.
I absolutely loved this book. It is one of the best I've ever read based in this time period. So many new things happening at that period of time. Changing world then.
I still have to write a review for this book to....*S*
Will miss following you on SweetnSexyDivas, and around the blogs...but I Know your doing what calls your heart.
Have a great week Sarah and thank you Karen..*S*



Cheryl Pierson said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah and Karen,

I had a wild weekend and am just trying to catch up on e-mails and such this morning. I wanted to pop on over and say howdy to you both. Karen,I am totally in love with your website--it is a work of art. LOL Sarah, I loved loved loved JOE WILDING. MG, what a hunk...I don't know how Lola could have told him "no" one time! LOLOL I can't wait for Banjo's story. I was really intrigued by him as I read HJRB, and am so glad you are going to do a story about him, too. Very nice interview! I enjoyed reading it. Not sure what time period I'd want to go back to...I think I am SPOILED. How would I live without my computer?LOL
Hugs to you both!

Cathy said... Best Blogger Tips

Good morning Karen and Sarah!


I love time travels and westerns. Your book sounds wonderful.

If I were to time travel, I would travel to England in the early 1800s since that is most of the books I read and it would be fun to see it instead of just reading about it. Just for a visit though, I couldn’t do without my conveniences. lol


cnickol at verizon dot net

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Karen and Sarah.
I enjoyed the post.

I would like to time travel back to Philadelphia in the late 1700s when they were still building up the country.

I would find this fascinating.


briananickol at yahoo dot com

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for that compliment about my website, Karen. It was designed by Jodie Belle, an Aussie. She is in the midst of architecture school now so she made it into word press so I could work on it myself. Don't know how to do some things though, like making covers all the same size.
Thanks for checking it out though and I really hope you like Harmonica Joe.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Darcy, you doll. Thank you so much for coming by and leaving such an uplifting comment. I am so glad you liked Harmonica Joe. Just because I dropped my co-ownership of SNSD doesn't mean I would forget any of you or not stop by to visit now and then.
Thanks again for coming by, Darcy. I really appreciate it.

Delaney Diamond said... Best Blogger Tips

Good idea to write Banjo's story if it calls to you. I think that happens to all authors at one point or another, where a secondary character becomes so beloved you want to tell their story too. I'm sure the readers will appreciate it.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Cheryl, thanks for dropping by. I want to hear about your wild weekend. Mine was quieter than usual. I could live without my computer. Too much time chatting it up ya know. LOL It's my weekness. I write in long hand when I'm stuck or when I just can't bear to look at a lighted screen on e more minute.
If you love Joe wilding, I really think you will fall head over heels for Banjo. I think I want him for myself.
Thank you so much for your constant support. It means so much to me.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Cathy, thank you so much for coming by. You must love to read Regency stories. Me too, when I'm not deep into a western. I love the clothes and the manners with all that heart pounding desire disguise by polite conversation.
Thanks again for coming to see me and commenting.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Briana, I enjoy the early 1700s in the colonies and I particularly like time travel stories that take a present day person back to those formative years in our nation's history. Now there's a war no one thought we could win--but the spirit of Americans is hard to snuff out.
I really appreciate you coming by and ;eaving a comment.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Delaney, first of all, let me thank you for always being there. You may not realize how much it means to me.
In the first draft, Banjo was an old geezer who hung out at the bar but, when I went into the second draft, i changed it to a streetwise 16 year old orphan who loved to make little mechanical doodads--and he won my heart. I didn't start out intentionally creating a character for a second book--it just happened.
Thanks again for coming by, Delaney. I love your books.

Becky said... Best Blogger Tips

Great interview! Hamonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride sounds like a very good book. If I could time travel< i think I would like to go back in the 1700's or 1800's.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Becky, thank you so much for dropping by to read my interview. I want a real time travel machine. Instead of speedometer, I want a timeometer. LOL
Thank you for your compliment about my book, too.

Jacquie Rogers said... Best Blogger Tips

Sarah, this sounds like a wonderful book! And of course I love westerns. Time travel is always intriguing, too. The combination is irresistable. :) Congrats!


katsrus said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah you are a new author to me. Your new book sounds wonderful. Pretty cover.
Sue B

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

I am so happy that you like esterns and time travel, Jacquie because that's what I like, too. LOL Thank you for taking time to come by and leave a comment for me. I really appreciate it.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Well I hope to get to know you better as time goes by, Sue. Thank you so much for coming by today.

P.L. Parker said... Best Blogger Tips

Book sounds terrific. I love time travel :)

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for dropping by P.L. Is that a picture of you with your sweet little doggie? Time travel can be tricky to write because there has to be a believable way to the other time and a purpose for going there. I appreciate you coming by and leaving a comment.

Laurean Brooks said... Best Blogger Tips

OOOOOH! I gotta-gotta-gotta have this book!

Sarah, 1900-1940 is my favorite time period to read and write about. And time travel makes it even more fascinating.

Please throw my name in the hat twice!
LOL. OOPS! Was that a bribe? Nah! Just kidding.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for coming by and leaving such a lovely comment, Laurean. Your name is in the hat.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

I have chosen a winner for the choice of my contemporary, Bitter Notes or my 1927 time travel, The Violin. And the winner is.......
Laurean Brooks!!! Congratulations Laurean. I will be contacting you by email to get your choice of books. Thank you to everyone for participating and commenting.