Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Facing Our Fears

Please welcome my Wednesday guest, Kate Wyland. Kate is a life-long horse nut who started riding at three years old. She’s taken part in a great variety of equestrian activities with her greatest loves being dressage and trail riding in the mountains. A few years ago, she exchanged her tech writing “bug” hat for a fiction writing Stetson. Suspense, romance, horses and sometimes the paranormal are the themes she likes to explore in her books. And she delights in sharing her love of animals and country living.


One question an author is commonly asked is: “what is the theme of your book?” Since I usually write romantic suspense stories, I’ve discovered that my themes generally revolve around facing fears and taking risks. It can be dealing with a scary situation rather than running from it or it might be risking heartbreak by daring to love. We all face these kinds of choices in our lives, though usually not as dramatic.

I was raised in a time when girls were supposed to be helpless and let the big strong guy take care of them. Of course, while the culture was teaching me this I was also regularly handling and training thousand pound horses and doing the heavy work involved with taking care of them. A rather schizophrenic set of messages, to say the least. I also absorbed a lot of my folks’ fears, provoked by moving from a smallish Midwestern town to big bad Los Angeles. They didn’t know how to judge the very different situation and as a result I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of things that my older brothers and sister had done back home.

Breaking free from those influences has taken a lot of effort and I’ve had to overcome many fears over the years. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to writing about heroines and heroes who have been traumatized and must learn to deal with their demons. In my book Wyoming Escape, the heroine Mikela was badly treated by the police after she found her business partner dead, possibly murdered. Five years later, when she stumbles upon another dead body and a dirty cop, her first reaction is to run.

She stood frozen, her mind whirling. The cop she had seen had to have been involved with this. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have just walked away from a crime scene. Given the state of her office, either he or Braddock had been looking for something. If the cop hadn’t found the object of his search and had killed Sam, he’d probably go after her next. If the police took her into custody—given her past and that the gun was hers—he’d be able to get at her with no problem.

Her panic takes her to a Wyoming Dude Ranch where she meets Shawn Saunders, a Marine home from Afghanistan on medical leave. Shawn is all too familiar with the kind of panic he sees in Mike’s (Mikela’s new name) eyes and doesn’t feel able to take on her problems. He has his own healing to do.

A familiar rage coursed through him, setting his blood racing. He sucked in a deep breath and tried to calm his pulse. Crap, he really couldn’t deal with this. He needed to get HIS shit together. He needed his head on straight when he went back to his men. Not that he would ever be quite the same after the last mission.

He couldn’t become involved with Mike’s problems. He’d have to step back. Let Harry handle her. He'd be leaving in a few more days anyway.

If only he could get her terrified look out of his mind.

When the dirty cop discovers Mikela’s hiding place and endangers her new friends, she starts to run. Shawn steps in to protect her and she realizes she has to face her fears, no matter the cost.

With the gravel gouging her hands, she began scrambling as fast she could. Then gunfire erupted from the hillside. She pulled up short. What am I doing? Shawn was risking his life for her and she was going the opposite direction to hide? Granted, he was trained for this, but she couldn’t just back away. That was the kind of betrayal she’d experienced all her life.

She pivoted around, her jaw tight with determination, and crept back to the boulders.

In my life I’ve dealt with shyness and social fears, as well as fear of heights and speaking in public. Mikela faces her fear of betrayal. What kinds of things have you confronted? What fears have you conquered?
One dead body is frightening enough, but a second one, plus a dirty cop, sends chef Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. The ultimate city girl finds a safe hiding place on a Wyoming Dude ranch, where she tries to discover if the murders are connected to the mysterious computer memory stick she found in her car. But her fragile feeling of safety is disturbed by a compelling Marine, home on leave.

Back from Afghanistan to heal both physically and emotionally, Shawn Saunders recognizes the type of fear in Mikela's eyes---it's one of the things he's come home to forget. Even though he knows it's a bad idea, he can't stop himself from trying to help her, while she's even more afraid of letting him. In spite of their reservations, neither can resist the pull of their attraction.

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photo credit: Historias Visuales via photopin cc


Judy Alter said...

Kate, thanks so much for being my guest today. I am always intrigued by facing fears because I have several. Like you, I have a great fear of height. Spiders don't bother me, but you'll be sorry to know I'm afraid of horses. Hope others come by and "confess." said...

Thanks for having me Judy. My hubby shares your aversion to spiders - had to deal with black widows as a kid. I'm not fond of things that startle me - snakes or mice, in particular.

Horses are big animals, but if you get to know them you'd discover how sweet and loving they can be.

Cher'ley said...

Hi Kate, she sure does have to "Face her Fears". I understand that. Nice blog post. As you already know I'm afraid of heights, but I have been facing my fears. Cher'ley

Angela Adams said...

I agree...horses are sweet and loving. Love visiting them at the petting zoo (which is as close as you can get to having a horse living in a northeastern city). said...

Excellent post, Kate. I've lately realized that my two most recent stories--and maybe the one before that--have the same basic theme, and, in fact, two of them are almost the same story. I'm afraid people who know me will think I'm the main characters. We have things in common, but not everything. I think I'll head that off with a blog post. Thanks for inspiring me. said...

You certainly are facing your fears, Cherley - parasailing and all. Thanks for stopping by. said...

They have horses at a petting zoo? I've only seen donkeys and ponies in CA. Maybe you should try going to a stable some day and actually take a ride. :-) Thanks for commenting. said...

That's always a problem when you're writing, isn't it Kathy? We naturally write from our experience, so we reveal a lot about who we are automatically. It's kind of fun to get into a villain's head and try to see the world through different eyes.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Lani said...

What a great interview, Kate! I love the theme of facing fears! Such a good one. You know, I have been that girl who kills spiders, climbs up tall ladder, skydived, snorkeled, ridden horses too . . . but I do have some intense fears. I'm not great in crowds. I'm actually very shy, although I try hard not to be.

Going to look up your book right now! said...

Other than heights, most of my fears haven't been physical. I did lots of things girls weren't "supposed" to do. Like you, Lani, I had problems with social situations. Very uncomfortable in crowds and dealing with people. Much better nowadays, but it certainly took work.

I hope you like Escape.

Gloria Alden said...

Good interview, Kate. I don't have many fears which drives my kids crazy. I do have a fear of heights that makes me uncomfortable like riding up the winding mountain roads in Yosemite with my daughter last week. Only because my kids insisted on it did I get a little track phone to carry on my daily walks in the woods. I live alone with a gentle collie who would hide behind me if anyone broke in. I took up backpacking when I was 60 and came across my first rattlesnakes and bears in the woods there. They didn't frighten me, either. I think it's all because my mother never seemed afraid of storms or anything else. said...

What a neat mom your kids have!
A phone makes sense - if you have cell coverage - when you walk in the woods. I always rode alone until recent years. I don't bounce so good anymore so now I go with others or make sure I have my phone.
Had an interesting encounter with a bear at Yosemite years ago.
Have fun.