"THUNDER ON THE PLAINS by Rosanne Bittner is a journey of love in the Wild West that is not for the faint of heart. Gloriously well written, this powerful tale will haunt you long after you have finished it."
~ Lisa, The Romance Reviews
Hello, All! Author Rosanne Bittner here, and I am happy to join the Romance Review blog with answers to questions sent to me in support of the reissue of my novel, THUNDER ON THE PLAINS! In celebration of this reissue I am running a "virtual" party all this month (July 2012). If you visit my web site at www.rosannebittner.com you will find a link to my party and you can join a contest to win a free copy of THUNDER – and you might even end up winning a free Kindle Touch!
The first question sent to me was to ask how I view the research process as far as describing the beauty of the American West. For me, research is the best part of writing! I have a great passion for the West and it's grand landscape and exciting history. My husband and I have traveled the West for close to 30 years and I have visited nearly every historical site written into my books. I continue to be totally fascinated by how fast the West was settled, its ecological affect as well as it's emotional affect on Native Americans, and the pace at which people poured into the West, especially the fanatical quest to find gold. The Western landscape can be compared to no other, from the vast plains and prairies with endless horizons, to the looming greatness of the Rockies and Sierras. It's difficult to describe the beauty and grandeur of our American West to those who have never been there, but I try hard with my descriptions, which is why the West is a place that must be visited in order to properly describe it – even then it's often difficult to find the right words. How many ways are there to say "vast" and "grand" and "splendid?" If I sound redundant in describing the country I love so much, it's because there just aren't enough words.
Thank you for your comment that my characters are so explicit and detailed that it's almost as if they really are a part of history – and you wondered if I become attached to them. That's a definite YES! I absolutely hate leaving my stories and characters, which is why I love writing big, fat books – so I can stay with these people as long as possible – and so I can properly flesh out all my characters and show how they become involved in real American historical events. The love for my characters is also why I have written series books (notably my SAVAGE DESTINY series – 30 years old and still selling) and why I've written several trilogies. In my book IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAINS, the heroine builds a monument to her father just outside of Denver, Colorado. The characters in that book were so real that I had readers write to me wondering where that monument is so that they can visit it!!! It doesn't exist, but they thought the people in my book really lived, and that is a wonderful compliment!
I was also asked my favorite feature about the heroine in THUNDER ON THE PLAINS, Sunny Landers. Sunny comes from wealth, and at a very young age her father dies and leaves her partly in charge of finishing his dream of building a transcontinental railroad across the West, something in which Sunny's father is already heavily invested. What I liked most about Sunny was her determination to finish her father's project – the way she takes over and stands against a very prejudiced group of wealthy "good ole' boys" who don't believe there is a place for a woman in their meetings/decision making. I also like the fact that in spite of her wealth, Sunny understands and accepts the kind of life led by Colt Travis, the half-Indian western guide Sunny meets when she visits the building sites for the railroad. Colt's life is as different from Sunny's as can possibly be, but it fascinates her – and their meeting leads to falling in love – two people from very different worlds who (it seems) could never possibly truly share a life together.
What sparked my love for the 1800's Old West was probably watching so many westerns on TV and in the movies when I was growing up. Of course many of the TV westerns and older western movies left a lot to accuracy, but I was impressed by the stunning landscape. If you watch old John Wayne movies, one of the grandest things about them is the background scenery. It is often quite spectacular, and it always fascinated me. When I was older my husband and I were finally able to drive out and visit such places, and I was even more awestruck when I saw them with my own two eyes. What led to my wanting to write about the West and pioneers was A LANTERN IN HER HAND by Bess Streeter Aldrich – and THE PROUD BREED, by Celeste de Blasis. My quest to tell the truth about our Native Americans came from Dee Brown's BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE. And if you want to read about eastern Indians and the earlier history of our country (which I write about in my Wilderness trilogy), pick any book by Allen Eckert. It some of the most fabulous writing of true history I've ever read. He brings it all to life.
You asked if there was meaning to my title, THUNDER ON THE PLAINS. It refers to the big, roaring train engines that "thundered" across the plains and prairies when they built the transcontinental railroad – and it also refers to the thundering hearts of two people very much in love but who face many obstacles in finding a life together.
In reply to your sixth question, our hero, Colt Travis, is a survivor because from childhood he had to rely only on himself to "make it" in the world. It toughened him up.
My favorite moment in Sunny and Colt's story? It would have to be the wild, passionate tryst that took place when they go riding alone out on the plains. Woo-hoo! It's hot! All that passion they have been trying to avoid finally explodes into a great love scene!
To answer your last question, I can't think of any particular fact or person that readers might not be aware of – but I am proud of my reference in this story to Abraham Lincoln and his death and how it affects Sunny. I often refer to a real historical character in my stories. In my Wilderness trilogy (Tor/Forge Books) I refer to a very young George Washington, who makes an appearance in one of the books.
Thanks for your request for some input! I hope everybody will read THUNDER ON THE PLAINS, and don't forget to visit my web site and join my on-line contest!
Three (3) lucky winners will win a copy of THUNDER ON THE PLAINS! Sponsored by Sourcebooks. Thank you!
To enter, simply be a follower and tell us: What about the Wild West do you love reading about?
1. Only one winner per household
2. U.S./Canada residents only
Contest Period: July 25 to 31
Contest Winner Announcement: August 5
Winners will be randomly selected via Randomizer.org. Please come back and check if you're the winner.