Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Amanda Cabot
Amanda: I love exploring family relationships and seeing how our childhood experiences affect us as adults, so each of the Mesquite Springs books has that as a core theme. Readers know that the circumstances of Evelyn’s parents’ deaths (Out of the Embers) haunted her and that the way Dorothy’s mother reacted to her husband’s death (Dreams Rekindled) left Dorothy with scars of her own. In The Spark of Love, readers will meet Alexandra, an heiress who’d gladly give up every penny she’ll soon inherit in exchange for a warm, loving relationship with her father. Though the two weeks they spend together each year are wonderful, they’re only two weeks. Imagine how being left in New York to be raised by her great-aunt during the rest of the year has shaped Alexandra’s personality.
LM: What sort of research did you need to do for the book?
Amanda: I did the basic historical research when I started the series, but each book required its own specialized research. In the case of The Spark of Love, that was the technique of painting with watercolors. I have zero artistic ability, but I love the effects that artists can create with watercolors, so the research proved to be a lot of fun.
LM: The time period in the story—the 1850s—could be considered rustic. Many of the modern conveniences we know today were not invented at the time. What is one thing that you couldn’t live without?
Amanda: Indoor plumbing!
LM: How far in advance do you plan your stories? Do you already know what you’ll be writing next year? Do you ever rearrange your writing schedule?
Amanda: My schedule is established by my contracts, so once I start a trilogy, I know what I’ll be working on for the next couple years. The only time I’ve rearranged my schedule was when Revell asked me to write the Texas Crossroads contemporary series instead of the World War One trilogy that had already been contracted.
LM: What is your process for coming up with your characters and plots? Do you devise your character first or the “what if?” Do you use visual aids such as finding photos on the internet or other places to determine your character’s appearance?
Amanda: I’m a plotter, so you can guess the answer to this one: I start with a basic premise. In the case of The Spark of Love, it was “what if danger follows an heiress to Texas?” followed by “what if the engaging man she meets on the stagecoach has secrets that threaten everything she holds most dear?” Once I have the premise, I start developing my characters’ backstory and the famous GMC – goal, motivation, and conflict – for each of them. I used to clip pictures from magazines and catalogs so that I could visualize my characters, but recently I haven’t done that. Instead, I rely on a chart that lists hair and eye color, height, weight, and distinguishing characteristics. That way I don’t become too wedded to a specific image, since the cover art will undoubtedly differ from it.
LM: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
LM: What is your next project? (Hopefully, the next book in the series!)
Amanda: The Spark of Love is the final of the Mesquite Springs books, but it’ll be followed by three yet-untitled books in what I’m calling the Sweetwater Crossing series. The first of those, which will be released on March 21, 2023, has been through its first round of editing, and I’m halfway through the first draft of the second book, scheduled for an October 2023 release.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Amanda: My website http://www.amandacabot.com is what I call “one stop shopping.” It has information about me and my books as well as links to follow me on social media and to sign up for my monthly newsletter. I encourage readers to spend a few minutes there.
The Spark of Love:
But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler.
With so much to lose—and hide from one another—Alexandra and Gabe will have to come together if they are ever to discover whether the sparks they’ve felt from the beginning can kindle the fire of true love.