For my inaugural Interviews with Indies, I thought I’d start with a writer who is funny, smart, and delivers those sexy cowboys on a silver platter with her fabulous writing talent. She’s also just an all-around great human:
Greta writes: “Small town western romance, but it ain’t sweet.” She’s got steamy cowboys, badass women and a lot of humor. I sat down over coffee and chatted with Greta to talk more about her writing, her books and her wonderful self.
(Okay, actually, I just asked if she’d be interested in being interviewed and we did the whole thing on paper because we live 1600 miles apart from each other.)
Nicole: Hello Greta! Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview for me. Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first:
Coffee or tea?
Greta: COFFEEEEEE. Is that even a question? I’m on my third mug today. And hi! Thanks for having me. <3
Night or morning?
That’s a hard one to answer. I think I write best in the morning, but I’m a night owl from way back. I need the night to brainstorm everything I’m gonna write in the morning. I don’t sleep a lot.
Art museum or History museum?
Art. I studied fine art in college (painting). I’m a sucker for Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.
Robots or Dinosaurs?
Dinos. They’re cute.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way … I know you say you didn’t always want to be a writer, that it was a trip through Wyoming and seeing the Grand Tetons that jump-started the calling. That and Jack Cade, that dreamy cowboy, showing up and introducing himself to your imagination. What was it like writing that first book? Were there many drafts?
Sooo many drafts! But the first drafts all kind of blended into one. I had no clue about drafts or revisions or anything of the like. But then I found my editor who’d been working in the industry for years, and he schooled me. He sent me a nineteen-page edit letter and told me to get to work. So then I killed a lot of darlings, wrote new ones, and ended up with a story I love to pieces.
Writing Burned was absolutely magical. It was that dreamy place where my imagination met a keyboard for the first time. Everything was possible. Anything was possible. Once I gave myself permission to do it, I wrote like a fiend. And one character introduced me to the next, and then the next, and so on. It’s still happening five years later, and somehow, I love the newest character even more than the last. I’m not sure if my memories are based in reality cuz a lot of that time is a blur, but I feel like all I did from September of 2019 until September of 2021 was stream indie folk rock on Spotify, drink coffee, and write. My son and husband had to remind me to shower a couple times. I do remember that. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but I was a woman possessed!
Wisper, Wyoming, is the town where the Cade Ranch Series is set. Is Wisper based on a real place?
Kind of. It’s set southwest of the Grand Teton Mountains. My son, husband, and I drove through Jackson, Wyoming on our road trip in 2011, and I just fell in love. The area is like a movie set. It’s the most perfect place on the planet, in my opinion. But if Wisper existed, it would be about a half an hour away from Jackson, in a more rural area. Less tourists and nothing but mountains, ranches, and tiny towns as far as the eye can see. And allll the cowboys. 😉
Were you planning on writing a series when you started that first book?
Nope. Lol. Boy, was I naive! Series are where it’s at in romance. And I’d read about a gazillion of them, so I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me back then. But once it did, I knew I had a book for each Cade brother, and then I began to envision the series after Cade Ranch. That’s what’s really fun about series; you can let them lead you off into different directions. I’m currently working on my second series, the Wisper Dreams series, and I have a third series idea that spins off from that. And then a lot of people in my small-town/cowboy genre do second generation series, so they write the books for their original characters’ kids. That’s still in the faraway future for me, but the ideas have begun to percolate.
What character did you love writing?
Oh man. Um, I feel like I’m being disloyal if I say one over another! I love them all! Butttt, if you’re going to pull my arm, Kevin Cade from Busted because he is a sarcastic sh!t. He cusses a lot, and there was just something about that guy. When he finally let himself love, he was unstoppable. I also loved Frank Sims from my latest release, Mountains Divide Us. He’s older and grumpy, and sexaaaay!
Do you have a favorite book? Or are they like children and you love them each in their own way?
That’s a great analogy! They are my kids. Each one makes me feel something different, so I love it differently. Burned was my first book, so it holds a special place in my heart. I also love, love, love the book I’m currently getting ready to release, Light Betrays Us. It’s a small-town, Western lesbian love story and one of the main characters is a lot like me. She talks back a lot. Lol. Her name is Devo.
As writers, we come up with a lot of careers for our characters to have. What career have you researched that you really liked?
Horse ranching. We had horses growing up, and I worked in barns during summers. Shoveled a lot of horse poo, but I’ve never raised horses. I love everything about them so learning about that life was so much fun. Another one wasn’t a job for a character, but the MMC in Rivers Between Us, Sheriff Carey Michaels, loves to fly fish, so that was really fun to research. “Foam is home.” That’s what flyfisher people say!
While we’re on the subject of ‘coming up with things,’ How do you come up with your characters’ names?
I don’t. They come to me. Like, the character shows up in my head pretty much fully formed with a name, a personality, and sometimes even a birth date. Don’t ask. I have no idea. Lol.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
The actual typing of the words takes maybe a month or two, but the germination of the story in my mind can take anywhere from a few months to almost a year. My current WIP took a loooong time to flesh itself out. Once I sat down to put pen to paper, so to speak, it took a month.
In writing about cowboys, you must have a lot of people who suggest a good cowboy or Western movie you need to watch. Do you have a favorite “cowboy movie”?
Well, I’m an indie film kind of girl, so the movies I like to watch are a lot of times ones no one has ever heard of. My dad loved old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies, and he forced them on me frequently as a kid. I’m definitely an Eastwood fan, but they all kind of run together in my memory. But I will say that if you haven’t seen Yellowstone, even though it’s a TV series, you are missing out! And the spin-off shows, 1883 and 1923, are SO GOOD. Especially 1923. It’s got Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, but my favorite character is Spencer Dutton. Omg. That man is the reason we write romance. He is 100% swoon worthy!!! I cried real tears when the first season ended.
Thank you so much for your time, Greta!
Thanks for inviting me! I’m super stoked to be your first! 😉
If you would like to check out Greta’s books,
Internationally bestselling Western romance author, Greta Rose West, was a floundering artsy flake until cowboy Jack Cade showed up, knocking on the door of her brain, pounding on it, and then he just plain kicked it down. She’s a boy mom to a grown freakin’ man —whoa!—and she lives in NW Indiana with her husband and her two precocious kitties, Geoff Trouble and Sally Mae Midnight.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading and devouring music. She enjoys indie films no one else likes, and her favorite food is Aver’s Veggie Revival pizza. Also, she would NOT be mad if someone delivered buckets of lemon macarons to her house every day.