November 4, 2010

Spotlight On... Alison Henderson

Author Alison Henderson is with us at the keyboard this morning. Welcome, Alison, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a Midwestern girl through and through. I grew up in Kansas City and went off to college in upstate New York, but the Heartland drew me back. My husband and I are currently empty-nesters living in Minnesota, and our daughter is a PhD student in Egyptian Archaeology in Chicago.

Tell us about HARVEST OF DREAMS and where we can find it.

HARVEST OF DREAMS is my first published novel. It’s set in a small river town in northwest Missouri just after the Civil War, when the country was struggling to get back on its feet and rootless young men banded together to form the beginnings of the infamous outlaw gangs of the Old West.

Here’s a short blurb about the story:

Alone on her farm in the middle of a blizzard, young widow Lisa McAllister labors to give birth to her first child. Help arrives in the form of a stranger with a six-gun. Lisa has no reason to trust this man who makes a living by violence, even if he is on the right side of the law. Men and their guns have already claimed the lives of her father, brother, and husband, and she’s determined to protect her son at any cost.
Jared Tanner, a security agent for the stagecoach, has been on his own since he was twelve. With Lisa and her baby, he’s finally found something worth fighting for – a family of his own. But a fresh wave of violence threatens to tear them apart. Can their new love survive?

HARVEST OF DREAMS is available in both print and e-book formats at The Wild Rose Press and, as well as other online retailers.

You can read an excerpt HERE

Why did you choose your genre?

As the song says, “my heroes have always been cowboys”. Western heroes are larger than life and embody many attributes we still value today such as honor, courage, and independence. I think the concept, challenge, and allure of the frontier and the West have had a profound effect on our collective psyche and our definition of ourselves as Americans. Even in my contemporary romantic suspense stories, my heroes are cowboys at heart.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’ve always loved history, and in the Border States of Kansas and Missouri, reminders of the local history lurk around every corner. When writing historicals, many of my ideas are prompted by facts I uncover in my research.

How do you do your research?

I started HARVEST OF DREAMS back before the Internet made research a breeze, but the fact that I was able to visit the actual town of Weston, tour some of the antebellum buildings, and walk the old brick streets in the footsteps of my characters added a sense of place that’s hard to get from articles on the Internet. I visited the Historical Society and picked up a book compiled of old photographs and articles from the local newspaper from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

How did you start writing?

I’m not one of those writers who always wanted to write. In fact, I never considered writing fiction until I took an extended sabbatical from work when my daughter was born. I had just discovered romance novels and was swept away by the grand creations of the early mistresses of the genre. When my daughter started preschool, I decided to try my hand. The resulting first book was unprintable but so much fun I tried again and produced the first draft of HARVEST OF DREAMS. I joined RWA and eventually learned what I didn’t know. Many years and many drafts later I’m proud of the result.

What do you find is the hardest part of writing a book?

I enjoy every part of the process from the research, to the plotting, to the magic of creating scenes and dialogue. The hardest part is having the discipline to sit down and write day after day for as long as it takes to tell your story to the best of your ability.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

My day job is Vice President of Underwriting and New Business for a large life insurance brokerage.

Where can we find you on the web?

I invite everyone to visit me at

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Inspiration comes in many forms. What inspires you?

Thanks for visiting with us today, Alison.  I wish you many sales!


Luanna Stewart said...

Great post! I loved your excerpt - could really feel the emotion in the scene.

P.L. Parker said...

Great post. As I've said before, I have to get this one.

Stacy said...

Loved the excerpt, Alison. There's just something about a cowboy with such a heart!

Good luck with Harvest of Dreams. Looking forward to book #2!

Alison Henderson said...

Lu - Thanks so much! This is a deeply emotional story, and I'm glad that came through.

Hi P.L.! Great to "see" you again.

Stacy - What can I say? Thanks for all your support. I know you're going to love this hero.

Jody Vitek said...

Another great post, Alison! I have to say my fellow writer friends, which are many such as yourself, are my inspiration for writing and sticking with it. Joining RWA and my local RWA chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers, were the best thing I could have done when I first began writing.

Alison Henderson said...

Jody, you're so right! I'd hate to try to do this alone. We need each other on this challenging journey.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great read. It's easy to see that you love what you do. Thanks for sharing with us!

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Alison!
Another fun post. I know I'm inspired by so many things--the biggest thing, though, is scenery. I love travel and new places. The notebooks I keep with me at all times are filled with descriptions: mountains, snow, colors. It's dangerous because we all know description can bog down your book and I love to write description. But, learning to condense my notes is good discipline, and coming up with a story where I can give my places life is truly exhilarating!

Keep up the great storytelling!

Alison Henderson said...

Hi Liz! I love description, too. It gives stories the strong sense of place that resonates with me. The challenge is to convey a rich image without bogging down the pace, and you do a wonderful job.

Debra St. John said...

Oh, I do love those cowboys, too!

I get much inspiration from music, and since country is my favorite genre, cowboys and such figure heavily in my contemporary stories.

Sarah Grimm said...


Thanks for sharing with us. I loved your excerpt! Harvest of Dreams is definately going on my TBR list.