Having been so honoured to win an award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association last year, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome one of their members, June Kearns, to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me today.
If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.
Staying in with June Kearns
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag June. Thanks so much for staying in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
Thank you so much for this lovely invitation, Linda!
Tonight, I’ve brought along my first novel: An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy – which has recently had a real renaissance!
Years ago, the first chapter won a national magazine competition and I still love the setting and characters. Here’s a bit more about it:
The American West, after the Civil War – a wild and restless place.
Into this background, wanders a party of Englishwomen. Well-bred spinster Annie Haddon – (product of mustn’t take off your hat, mustn’t take off your gloves, mustn’t get hot or perspire Victorian society) –together with an aunt the last word in snobbery, and a spoiled and brittle cousin.
After a stagecoach wreck, Annie is thrown into the company of renegade Colt McCall, part-Irish part-Sioux – a man who lives by his own rules and who hates the English.
Can two people – moulded by their backgrounds and pasts – overcome that conditioning?
Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West.
(Congratulations on that win. I rather like the sound of Colt McCall June. I think he might be someone I wouldn’t mind meeting on a dark night!)
What can we expect from an evening in with An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy?
Here’s a recent review from Lizanne Lloyd:
‘An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy is superb. A brave desirable hero, a sympathetic heroine and an amazing historical setting made it such a pleasure to read.’
So, how did I come to write it?
Well, when I was growing up – a small, sturdy little girl, blessed with corkscrew hair that frizzed in damp weather and a tendency to flush easily – I developed a real aversion to beautiful heroines!
(What a wonderful photo, June. Thanks for bringing it along with you.)
Annie Haddon – my Victorian bluestocking in this book – has a limp. (I’d been sorely tempted to give her a stutter – but thankfully was talked out of it!)
(Oh, yes. That would have been a nightmare to write the dialogue.)
I just wanted to show that a small, plain main character can also generate passion, through great conversation and humour.
Plus, having been brought up in a tiny Victorian terrace – with dim rooms and high windows – I have a thing about the effect of light and landscape, too. The idea of open, empty land stretching out to the horizon – as featured in films such as The Big Country and Giant – has always seemed incredibly seductive.
Two photos taken in Marin County, not far from San Francisco where our eldest son lives; it’s just that sort of wonderful, inspirational space.
The Westerns I loved as a child though, were all clear cut. The hero was always handsome, and if a stranger got off the stagecoach and kicked a dog – he was the baddie. I liked the idea of jiggling all that up a bit!
So, after that stagecoach wreck, Annie finds herself alone – abandoned by relatives and forced into company of renegade Colt McCall, who sees her as both a dangerous encumbrance and unwelcome irritation.
‘In full glare of the sun, the heat was brutal. Strings of hair fell down round her face and Annie pushed them away with a sticky, horse-smelling hand. ‘Won’t it be years though before the railroad gets going properly?’
‘Lady, I couldn’t rightly say.’
‘I read something about it in my journal.’
Her journal! In her trunk. Along with just about everything else that she owned. Not that this man would understand how much those things meant to her. Gross ignorance, vulgar manners were both so widespread here.
‘Almost everything I own,’ she murmured, ‘was in that trunk. The one you made me leave back there. Bound copies of Dickens, an entire set of-’
‘That’s okay,’ he said, heaving her onto the horse and boosting himself up behind. ‘Comanche love Dickens, Apaches now, they’re more partial to Edgar Allan Poe.’
A flush rose on Annie’s neck. Staring ahead, eyes sliding out of focus, she felt his contempt oozing into her back.’
(Woo – I love that extract. It really makes me want to find out more about An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy.)
So, who or what else have you brought along?
Well, I hope this is alright with you Linda, but as well as my best writing buddies – Lizzie Lamb, Adrienne Vaughan and Mags Cullingford (all pictured here, and a constant source of support and encouragement!)
(That’s more than acceptable June. Both Lizzie and Adrienne have stayed in with me before and I know how much fun they can be. I’ll have to invite Mags over too. This could be a good evening!)
… I’ve also brought along all five of my sister-in-laws. (It may be a wee bit of a squash, but p’raps if we all budge up and bring plenty of nibbles, cake and wine?!)
(It’s a reasonable size sofa June and there’s plenty of room on the floor but I think my husband might make himself scarce with all these women…)
I like men. When I was growing up (an only child) they were a bit of mystery – but I married one, and now have 4 sons, (one daughter). It was the influence of women though that persuaded me to write. Picking out the small details of their lives fascinates me. It feels a bit like tapestry.
So marrying into a large Irish family, I acquired my sister-in-laws (Ann, Julia, Kathleen, Beverley and Nuala) – every one of the no-nonsense mind-set: ‘no matter how old you are, you can still learn to tap dance and play the ukulele’ , (not necessarily at the same time!) Always inspiring, incredibly encouraging and every one of them great fun on a night out like this!!
(Looks like we’ve plenty of entertainment lined up then! I’ll just go and fetch my tap shoes…)
Thanks so much for staying in with me June to tell me all about An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy. I didn’t realise it was going to be such a party and I’ve really enjoyed it.
An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy
Jane Austen meets Zane Grey.
The American West,1867.
After a stagecoach wreck, well-bred bookish spinster, Annie Haddon, (product of mustn’t-take-off-your-hat, mustn’t-take-off-your-gloves, mustn’t-get -hot-or-perspire Victorian society) is thrown into the company of cowboy, Colt McCall – a man who lives by his own rules and hates the English.
Can two people from such wildly different backgrounds learn to trust each other?
Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West
An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy is available for purchase here.
About June Kearns
An only child, June Kearns was always a daydreamer who spent a lot of time staring into space and making things up.
She was brought up by women – her grandmother, mum and aunts circling round with their gossip, whiffs of scent, whispered secrets. It was their influence that made June want to write.
She started seriously after leaving teaching, and winning a national magazine competition for the first chapter of an historical novel.
A founder member of the indie publishing group, The New Romantics Press, she’s now published two novels – An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy and The 20’s Girl – and at the moment, in a warm corner next to the airing cupboard, she’s working on a third set in 1960s London and San Francisco.
June is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and lives in Leicestershire, in the middle of England.