Q: Neenah, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A: I knew it for sure when I was in high school. But it probably began when I was just about four, and telling stories to my sisters and brother when we were supposed to be sleeping. We already had a deep love for horses, so they figured in most every tale.

Q: You must have read a lot of horse stories then?

A: Oh, sure, but not back that early. We lived in a duplex farmhouse, and the owners’ fourteen year old daughter owned a mahogany bay called Chico. Yep, we looked up to Denise, figuratively and literally . . . and we were pretty envious of her luck in owning a horse. It wouldn’t be for another three or four years before my mom would introduce us to the wonders of the Litchfield Library. And then, later, I came to own several horses. Which, of course, is where I get most of my material for all of the horse scenes in my romances. My father taught us girls to ride, and I’m sure that it was the best part of our lives. Miss that now.

Q: Why did you decide to write romances?

A: After reading a few badly written ones, actually. I just knew I could write a better one! Really, I had no first hand experience with romance. Nothing major, that is. There’d been guys I liked, sure, but, back then, my appearing so much younger than I really was worked against me. Went out with younger guys occasionally, but that was about it. So, my knowledge of how a relationship was supposed to work was gotten mostly by reading and by watching others in their relationships. Oh, man, I could write many tales just on my observations of others! And yes, sometimes some of that finds its way into a scene or two.

Q: Were you a good student in school?

A: For the most part. I daydreamed a lot when I should’ve been doing my work, though!

Q: What books did you read as a kid?

A: Naturally, anything and everything about horses. And American Indians. When I discovered both of my parents had Native American blood in them, I was thrilled. Broken Arrow was a favorite TV show of mine at the time, so I couldn’t get enough material about the Apache. Later it was Crazy Horse and the Souix. But I read whatever I could find on every tribe the library had a book about.

Q: Any of this find its way into your stories?

A: All the time! Thomi’s family, for instance.

Q: How much of yourself do you put in your stories?

A: Quite a bit. Every female character has some part of me in her. For some, it might just be the coloring and build. But the main female characters have a lot of me in them. They may have qualities that I wish I had. I’m not too much of an outgoing person. Although, once I get to know you, I can be. Still, it’s not my nature. So, sometimes, I create characters that are the opposite of me. Thomi and her sisters are a mix of me, and what I’d like to be. Their mother, more than anyone, is me. Thomi, Anetra, and Halleigh are left handed. So’s Lyndsay and Jacqi.

Q: Is that possible?

A: Very! My right handed parents had four kids–three left handed girls and one right handed boy! Besides, it’s my story . . . !

Q: Well, that’s true! What are your heroes like?

A: Well, for the most part, not like the ones you might be used to reading about. Just now, they are tall, handsome, and well built. But they may not be a decade older than the heroine. In the case of Halleigh and Kourtnay, possibly Rikki, getting along with their hero, at least at first, isn’t the conflict. Family issues, are, But that could change. Nothing’s written in stone. I think you can have a good story with a sunny tempered hero as much as one domineering.

Q: Do you use an outline, then, or not? If so, how closely do you follow it?

A: Sometimes I use one. If I’m not sure of things, I’ll even write an extensive background history. Which I did for Stormi so I could clarify in my mind how things were for her growing up with wealthy parents whose lives didn’t really include her or her sister, Kourtnay. Then, later, what her life was like married to her first husband. Helped me define her role in Thomi’s story, and let me figure out just what I wanted to include and what will probably never be told. It’s good to do this for all your main characters, but I’ve done it only for her, so far.

How closely do I follow the outline? Not very! Characters don’t like to be stuffed in a mold. They want to be free to tell their stories their way. And sometimes, they have surprises waiting to to be tossed at me. Stormi’s grandfather has several. Should be fun revealing them to his various relatives!

Q: Why have one then?

A: It’s like having a road map. You might like to wander the back roads from time to time, but it’s good to have something to refer to in case you get way off track. Of course, it could mean that you need a new map! But generally, I have much of it mapped out in my head. I’m one who likes to just jump in the car and go. And that’s how I write most of the time. I like to just see where the story takes me. Sure, sometimes, I have to back track, but often, that’s where a new and much better idea crops up.

Q: You said you put a lot of yourself in your characters, What about your experiences? I mean more than just the horses . . . For instance, Thomi has a bad time with Stephan’s cousin, Charley. Was that made up for the story, or had you a similar experience? If so, was it easy to do?

A: Ah . . . Yeah . . . I’ve had an experience or two . . . Don’t ask me why I felt I had to hang such a terrible thing on her or her mother . . . or Stormi even. I think it was because the memories had surfaced to torment me, and it was one way to deal with them. Was easier to write, though, than read it aloud afterwards to a bedridden friend who wanted to hear the story–Thomi’s, that is. She knew, though, when we got to those parts, that it wasn’t just imagination that had come up with it.

Q: Had to be rough. Did it help to write it out, then?

A: Yes, I think it did, eventually. Not that it makes it all easier to talk about. Just easier to deal with mentally. If that makes any sense. But, that’s where the humor comes into play. Even though some serious stuff is discussed in All For The Love Of Thomi, there’s a lot of humor in the story to balance it out. The same for Joleigh’s story which deals with the death of loved ones. Tragic topics, but a little humor gets you through the bad times.

Q: So, how’ll it all end in the series?

A: Well, that outline hasn’t been written yet, and even if it had, I wouldn’t tell you! I have a few ideas, but it’ll be a couple more stories before it’s all fully resolved.

Q: Well, then, I guess you have your work cut out for you then! Get to it, I can’t wait to find out all the secrets and mysteries you have in store for us!

A. Another part of the puzzle will be resolved in Stormi’s story, actually, more than one part will be. But, I may have so much fun with these characters–which, by the way, have been with me for over forty years–I may never get to the end of it all! Writing’s an adventure every day.

Neenah Davis-Wilson

Neenah Davis-Wilson