Wednesday, June 26, 2013


One of the great things about the internet is that we can interact with interesting people from across the world. I’d like to introduce you to someone I “met” online in a western writers group. Susan Horsnell and I recently became friends via the world wide web and I felt an immediate kinship with her--as if I've known her all my life. I am happy to introduce her to you. Here’s Susan:

Author Susan Horsnell
Caroline: Please tell us something about growing up, Susan.

Susan: I grew up in Sydney, Australia. My parents came to Australia from England in 1952 as £10 Poms after Dad did 3 years in Mombasa, Kenya with the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. I’m the eldest of five children and I have two brothers and two sisters. A lot of my early years were concentrated on dancing, I did tap, ballet, clog, jazz, etc and we spent a fair amount of travelling to competitions throughout New South Wales. I was a very good tapper and I had a good singing voice so I won my fair share of comps. I did pantomimes and also a stint on a children’s television show. I’ve always loved to read and English/Writing was my best subject at school.
            I met my husband, Robert, when I was 16 and we started going out when we were 17. He’d joined the Navy from Western Australia when he was 15 and was posted to a Naval Base near my home. I was living in the nurses’ quarters studying nursing and dances used to be organized between the two establishments. A lot of the Navy boys were very young and a long way from home, so it was a way for them to leave the base and have some enjoyment. If they were underage, like Robert, they were pretty much confined to base where they could be supervised. We married when we were 18, had our first son – James 18 months later and Scott was born 4 years after that. James married Coralie and they live in Sydney with their 3 children – Tamsen 12, Paige 6 and Clayton 3. Scott married an Irish girl aptly called Colleen and they live in Melbourne with their 2 children – Grace 6 and William 3.
            My love of reading was invaluable with Robert away so much and I began to write bits and pieces when I had the time.

Caroline: Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Susan: I love Margaret Mitchell – GONE WITH THE WIND is my absolute favourite book of all time. I love Jodie Picoult, Maeve Binchy, Di Morrissey, Judy Nunn and Nicholas Sparks just to name a few. I love Western Romance, Western Historical, Mystery and any story based on fact.

Caroline: What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Susan: I’m retired now and have been for 4 years. Being honest, I have plenty of time to do whatever I want. I like to be active. I love walking our two Jack Russell Terriers – Cosmo and Kelly. We spend weekends out in the country visiting interesting old, antique, craft shops or historical homes, museums.

Caroline: My youngest daughter, Darling Daughter 2, and I love to visit all of those places, too. In fact, we used to have 3 booths in antique malls. My husband, Hero, and I love going on historic tours and to museums. Of course, Hero and I live “out in the country.” Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Susan: “Life’s short; don’t run if you can walk.”

Caroline: Very good advice. We rush so much we miss enjoying the things around us, as in the above weekend pursuits. How long have you been writing?

Susan: I have been writing seriously for 2 years but dabbled on and off for years before that. I wasn’t confident enough that people would want to read what I wrote but I decided to dive in and give it a go. I figured if I didn’t try it I would never find out if I had any talent or not.

Caroline: Exactly. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Susan: I write in our family room during the day while the dogs sleep so it is usually quiet. I can’t write with a lot of distractions. I use a laptop to write, I can sit outside on a nice day with it too.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Susan: A little of both; I usually have a plot in mind before I begin but as I write things will jump into my head and I try and incorporate them. I don’t stick hard and fast to any writing guideline like I was taught in school.

Caroline: I think the new term for what you do is a plotzer. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Susan: A bit of both, I read a lot of history particularly about the American West so I use “artistic license” to weave bits and pieces in.

Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Susan: I try and write at least a chapter a day but if I’m on a roll and the words are flowing I keep going. If I get stuck I pack it up and do something else.

Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Susan: I hope they can look at my writing as escapism with the old fashioned type romance that seems to have been lost. People are so busy in their jobs and with family life they don’t always have time to read heavy stories. I just would like them to sit down with a coffee and read something they don’t have to think about; something that will take them away to someplace else.

Caroline: Exactly the type reading I enjoy. What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Susan: I would love to sell lots of books like all authors but if a few people enjoy reading what I have enjoyed writing then I’m happy.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Susan: I have just finished my new book, MAIL ORDER MARSHALL, and I am getting it ready for publication. It’s a bit of a twist away from the female always being a mail order bride. I have given an outline and excerpt below for readers.  I have also written a fantasy Children’s Book called MYSTERY UNDER THE HOUSE which my daughter-in-law, Coralie is currently illustrating (She is an Artist).  My next book is a romance between two characters during the days of the Victorian Gold Rush in the start of Victoria, Australia. I am incorporating some of the history of the Cobb and Co coaches into it.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Susan: Go for it! Ask friends and family to read your work and if you think you have something others will enjoy then don’t be afraid to give it a try.

Caroline:  Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Susan: I always cheered for the Indians in the old Western Movies that I used to watch with my Dad. Love the old movies with John Wayne, Audie Murphy, and Alan Ladd; used to sweep me away!

Caroline Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Susan: I am convinced I lived my last life in Texas! I have such a fascination with the great state as well as cowboys and Indians; particularly during the 1800’s. I don’t usually believe in that kind of thing but I have such a strong affinity for somewhere I have never been during this life. I am hoping to “revisit” next year some time.

Caroline: Remember, you’re including a stop at my house on that visit. Is your book a series?

Susan: No; it’s a stand-alone, although I do have a series of four books called ‘The Glenmore’s’. MAIL ORDER MARSHALL is around 200 pages.

Can you give readers a blurb about MAIL ORDER MARSHALL?

Susan: Of course.
When Claire Sullivans’ parents are killed in a stagecoach hold up she is left as the only heir to their successful Texas horse ranch. Claire has been informed she is in danger of losing the ranch if she doesn’t marry; as a woman, the law won’t recognise her ownership. Claire hates the thought of marriage and family thanks to her philandering father; but to keep the ranch that she loves she knows she has no other choice but to marry.
She refuses to marry anyone from her ranch, or in town, so her neighbour suggests she write to a mail order bride agency. Claire writes to an agency in Forbes and explains her situation. She tells in her letter that the marriage will be one of convenience with none of the privileges normally shared between a husband and wife. The man will have a share of the profits but, if he decides to end the marriage and leave, he will have no claim on the ranch and Claire will be free to start again.
Peter Reynolds has just quit the Rangers to set himself up on a ranch. When his boss explains Claire’s situation he jumps at the chance to partly own an already established and successful horse ranch even it does involve marriage. Marriage is the last thing Peter wants after the betrayal he suffered, but one of convenience in exchange for a ranch seems like a good offer.
When Claire’s horse is poisoned and she gets shot in broad daylight; Peter knows he has to find the man responsible. As Peter stays by Claire’s side while she recovers; he finds himself losing his heart to his brave little wife. Claire also finds a love she never believed in before she met Peter.
Their love is put in jeopardy when the shooter takes advantage of the men searching the mountains for him and he breaks into Claire’s room determined to kill her. Will Claire survive to be with the man who has finally broken down her barriers and captured her heart?

Caroline: How about an excerpt?

Susan: I’d love to share one:

Summer 1870                                                  
Winton; TEXAS
Claire Sullivan stood up, slapped her dusty Stetson against her denims for the third time in fifteen minutes and pushed her loosened hair back behind her ears. She had been attempting to break the recalcitrant roan stallion for the past four days and she was still no closer to remaining in the saddle.
“Not lookin’ good boss” her foreman, Carter, said as he hung over the corral fence watching.
Claire limped over to the fence and leaned with her back against it watching the gelding run wildly in circles around the corral.
“Ya okay?” Carter asked after seeing her limp towards him.
“Yeah, just twisted up the ankle a bit is all. It’ll be fine” she frowned at the antics of her high spirited horse as he began to kick out his rear legs.
Claire had been breaking horses to the saddle for almost ten years now and had been riding since before she could walk. She’d grown up as an only child on the Flying J Ranch and had been around horses all her life. Local people reckoned she was the best in the county at breaking horses, better in fact than any man. Claire neither knew nor cared if she was; she just loved being around horses.
Her father, John, had come west from Virginia more than thirty years ago to realise his dream of starting a ranch. The Flying J has the reputation of supplying the finest riding horses to the US Army, with whom they have a contract, and anyone else willing to pay for them.
The ranch is only a small operation compared to most but it provides a very comfortable living for all involved. There are 20,000 acres of fertile grazing pastures and on average it plays host to around 1600 horses at any one time.
The main house is a two storey wooden, whitewashed building with a huge wrap around verandah; Claire loves to sit and read in the chair out front when she has time to herself, which isn’t all that often. The large kitchen has a walk-in pantry and a large oak table that seats twelve. Claire and her staff eat all their meals together at the kitchen table, a tradition begun by her father, and now continued by Claire. There is a large parlour, an office/library and a separate dining room as well as a laundry on the ground floor. Upstairs are six bedrooms and the washroom which, like the laundry and kitchen, has water plumbed in. Kelly has one bedroom and Claire now sleeps in the master bedroom; she says it makes her feel closer to her parents.
There is a bunkhouse alongside the house which sleeps twelve with a washroom of its own and a parlour type area where the men can play cards and relax. The stables house thirty horses at a time; at one end is a huge tack room. There are also three sheds for feed storage and machinery.
Henry and June Carlson are their neighbours to the east; mountains border her property to the west and the Rio River runs out of the mountains and forms the south boundary; to the north is a small farm owned by the Cleary’s.
Henry is a solidly built man of average height. He has what Claire considers a ‘kindly’ weather-beaten face with numerous wrinkles thanks to his lifetime of ranching. He has piercing grey eyes that turn as dark as storm clouds when he becomes annoyed or worried. He is always helpful to his neighbours and fiercely protective of his close friends and family. Henry is 60 years old.
June is a small, stout woman who Claire loves to hug as she sinks into her many folds and it makes her feel safe. June has long grey hair and pretty green eyes. Her skin is still smooth with very few wrinkles. June is 55 years old.
Henry and June own the South Prairie Ranch. It is 150,000 acres in size and runs around 6,000 head of cattle as well as 200-300 horses. Claire and Henry have two children, Howard 33, and Mary 27. Mary is one of Claire’s best friends and Claire loves Henry and June like a second set of parents.
Henry loves Claire like a daughter and respects her talent with horses; he often calls on her to help with his own, if he is having trouble, and she is always willing to help.
Claire’s parents had been killed in a stagecoach massacre six months ago when they were on their way back from Boston after a holiday. Henry and June, as well as the men on Claire’s ranch, had provided the support that she’d needed during such a difficult time. Two other passengers, the stagecoach driver and his partner had also been killed, the bandits had still not been apprehended and Claire mourned the loss of her parents deeply.
Claire Mona Sullivan is 25 years old and a pretty girl, some would even consider her beautiful. She is small and thin but with feminine curves in all the right places. She has small, firm breasts and hair the colour of cornsilk which hangs in waves to her waist when released from its usual braid. Her eyes are as blue as a summer sky and come to life when she smiles. Her heart shaped face has a smattering of freckles over her nose and her cheeks, thanks to constantly working outdoors, and she has large dimples which appear when she smiles.
Since the death of her parents Claire has taken over the running of the ranch but she is now in danger of losing it. She needs a man to marry who will be her husband in name only; being a woman she is unable to legally own the ranch and needs a man to prevent it from being taken away from her.
Claire hates being put in the position of having to marry as she would much rather remain single and answer to no-one. After talking with Henry and June they have come up with a solution that hopefully will solve her problems with the law and keep her happy; she just needs a man to agree to her conditions!
The dilemma weighs heavily on her young mind. She has refused any man from town and as it could drive a wedge between the men on her ranch, should she choose one of them, she has also ruled that option out.
She wonders if her preoccupation with her thoughts on this matter is the reason why the horse is reacting this way.
“I can’t understand him Carter. I ain’t never had a horse that didn’t respond. I can’t even remember papa havin’ one that took more than two days to break” Claire watched as her wranglers - Ben and Clayton, attempted to calm the horse down.
Ben Mitchell and Clayton Simpson are two of the best horse wranglers in the business and together with Donardo Vega, a Vaquero her father befriended and hired when he first arrived in the area, they are responsible for the success of the ranch.
“Do ya wanna cut him loose?” Carter asked but he already knew what the answer would be. Claire was not a quitter and she would find a way to work with this horse.
“Hell no!” Claire moved off the fence and swung around to face her foreman who had a grin on his face. “He’s a real challenge but I ain’t givin’ up; you knew that didn’t ya?” she punched his shoulder playfully and leaned back on the fence.
The horse eyed her with suspicion as Ben walked him past her to take him back to his stall.
Claire sighed and pushed away from the fence. “Call it a day, men, and wash up for supper.”
Carter watched as Claire hobbled up to the house. He hoped this little girl, who he’d known all her life, could hang on to the ranch and he would do anything he could to make sure she did.

Caroline: Where can readers find your books?

Susan: On Amazon Kindle as ebooks

Amazon Bookstore in paperback

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Susan: Here are my links:

Amazon Author Central:http://  

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Susan: I would like readers to know that I would appreciate their reviews and their feedback, good or bad. By being critiqued I can strive to correct my mistakes. I don’t want readers spending their hard earned money on my books and being disappointed. 

Caroline: A great attitude, Susan. Thanks for sharing with us in this interview. Best wishes for great success.

Thanks for stopping by!


Susan Horsnell said...

Thank you so much Caroline for having me. I am flattered that an author of your standing would take the time to give your encouragement to someone new like me.
Sue Horsnell :)

Caroline Clemmons said...

Susan, having you here is a pleasure. Would you explain what a ten pound Pom is?

Susan Horsnell said...

After WW2 Australia offered assisted passage to the British to come to Australia in an attempt to boost our workforce.
The fare was £10 and they came by ship. My parents were part of this scheme and came to Australia in HMS Strathmore in 1952.
Australia calls the British 'Poms' or 'Pommy's' hence the '£10 Poms' tag.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Caroline and Sue,
Lovely to catch up with you again Caroline,if you will recall we hared a publisher a few years ago, and I have in fact been a guest on your blog.

I recently met up with Sue on tne internet, doesn't she have an interesting story to tell?

I love Westerns and always have, I have just finished reading Sue's Mail Order Marshall, and I loved it, a great story. Her other western novel, The Stuck Up Governess is a good read too, but I don't know what it was about Mail Order Marshal, that made it stick in my mind. Maybe it had something to do with the gorgeous hunk on the cover. What a man.