Thursday, January 04, 2007

Thursday Talk Time - Marin Thomas

This week The Pink Heart Society brings you one of the very latest authors for Harlequin American. Please give a warm PHS welcome to Marin Thomas!

Cowboys vs. Ordinary Heroes

First, I'd like to thank the Pink Heart Society gals for inviting me, a relative unknown author in the world of category romance, to blog today.

This month my fifth book for Harlequin American Romance will hit the shelves, NELSON IN COMMAND is the second installment in my McKade Brothers series. If any of you are familiar with the painting, American Gothic, you'll appreciate the cover of Nelson in Command. My hero is wearing a business suit holding a pitchfork while the heroine--Fanny Farmer--sports overalls and pigtails. The setting of the story is a small Illinois dairy farm. Speaking of settings…

…After my first three books for the American line, (cowboys and ranchers) my senior editor pulled me aside in Atlanta at the RWA conference and said she had plenty of Texas authors who wrote cowboy-themed/hero category stories and she'd love for me to explore alternate settings and heroes for the American line. I nodded and said "I'd love to!" Later, I had a nervous breakdown in my room. I cut my teeth on cowboy romances. I mean, good grief, there's nothing like a man in pair of tight-fitting jeans sitting astride a big, black stallion! Once the panic subsided I got to work on my next story idea and came up with the McKade Brothers series-a riches to rags theme. The heroes would be businessmen--now came the challenge (at least in my mind) how to turn a businessman into the hero of a woman's fantasies. Hmm???

Answer: Research. I went to a Barnes and Noble, bought a Pepsi (I don't drink coffee) and sat in an overstuffed chair and people--excuse me--MAN watched. First of all, you don’t see ANY cowboys in bookstores--at least not in Illinois. L. For two hours I studied regular men. Some handsome. Some not. All ordinary. I watched their expressions when they perused the bookshelves, listened to the comments they made to the store clerks and generally stared a lot. I was amazed at the questions that popped into my head. I began to wonder about their backgrounds, what made them chose the books they did and even why one man wore two different colored socks. After two hours, I stood and shouted silently, I can write these guys! I mean, these were real men. The kind most of my readers are married to or dating. Shoot, I married one, too! Why shouldn’t these men be just as heroic and handsome and intriguing as cowboys--maybe even more so because they know how to have meaningful conversations with people, not just their horses.

What started out as a moment of gut-wrenching fear in my writing career turned into an opportunity to grow as a writer. Currently I'm working on a new series for the American Romance line that's set in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Book one of the series will be out October 07. The stories center around a Scotch-Irish clan in a make-believe community called Heather's Hollow. I've had a blast researching the area and history of these people and hope I can do justice to it/them in my books. In this series, my heroes are… a newspaper reporter, a soldier returning from Iraq and a sawmill supervisor. Ordinary guys with super hero qualities.

So if you're in the mood for an ordinary guy, please check out my McKade Brothers series. Aaron Under Construction, the first book in the series is still available through on-line retailers. Nelson in Command is out this month (Jan 07) and Ryan's Renovation, the last book in the series will be out August 07.

And if visit check out my new Name that Rooster contest (click on Marin's Attic). Drop me a note--I love to hear what readers have to say about my ordinary heroes

About Marin : In a nutshell, I am a sports jock turned romance writer. Yep--6 foot, 1 inch full of Happy Ever Afters. I played Division I Collegiate basketball for the University of Arizona. Go Wildcats!! As you might guess, basketball has played a major role in my writing success, but that's another day, another blog.

Thanks Marin!!!


  1. Marin,
    I thoroughly enjoy your books, love your characters, and I'll be looking for your book!


  2. Hi Marin,

    Great to have your contribution to the PHS. Man watching, huh?! A tough job, but someone has to do it!

    I read "Aaron Under Construction" before Christmas and really enjoyed it. I've collected up a couple of your backlist since and am looking forward to reading those, plus I can't wait for Nelson (loved the extract!) and Ryan's stories.

    Best wishes,

  3. Hi Jeanmarie & Margaret

    Thanks for your lovely comments! I've had a great time writing the McKade Brothers.

    As for the Man watching, lol! I confess I'm a people watcher. I Love to sit in airports and observe people/kids in restaurants and spin stories in my head about who they are, why they're there, etc. Sometimes I wonder if a writer's mind ever really stops "spinning". Probably a good thing if it doesn't :-)

    Happy New Year!

  4. Sounds like a great series! I will definitely have to check it out.

    Cherie Japp

  5. I'm loving that cover. I never noticed the pitchfork before you mentioned it, and ever since it's been making me smile :)

  6. Your series sound really great! Thanks for sharing more about them and yourself here!

  7. Aw Marin, I'm so glad things worked out for you! I can feel the anxiety you must have endured. You've certainly risen to the challenge. Love the cover of Nelson In Command.

  8. Cherie,Jenna,Cole & Lee

    Thanks for dropping by and making me feel so welcome!

    I have to share something about the cover for Nelson In Command.

    This was the first time I slipped in an "idea" for the cover when I turned in my manuscript to my editor. I included a photo of the American Gothic painting and wrote a little blurb how I thought it might be fun to show the hero in a business suit holding a pitchfork and the heroine dressed in her overalls etc.

    So when I saw the cover for the first time I was so excited that someone had used my idea! I'm not under any illusion that this will happen again but it was fun to experience at least once :-)


  9. Love the cover, Marin. I'm Australian, but have always been fascinated by that American Gothic painting. I think your cover is a wonderful take on it. Ever curious, I have to ask: Was this your suggestion, or did Harlequin come up with it? And are the other covers in the series connected to familiar icons? Very clever!

  10. Hi Barb

    Yep, the cover was my idea but that's the only input I had.

    I wasn't shown the final version of the cover or asked for my comments etc. If I had been I would have asked them to change the farm house in the background to one that looked run down. (Fanny Farmer in the book is in serious financial trouble so that nice clean, brand-new house behind her made me laugh)

    As for the books in the series having familiar icons--no, I'm afraid not. But that would have been a very cool idea.