Mary Jane Morgan published her first romance novel 15 years ago and is still going strong today with the latest in her repertoire: Crystal Springs Homecoming Romances. Most of the books in this series boast near-perfect Amazon review scores and the first book, Long Road Home, is no exception. In this interview, Morgan reveals what makes her characters so relatable, where she finds her inspiration and talks about her love for horses.
Log Line: As the long-simmering attraction between Megan and Brett resurfaces, it is threatened almost before it begins by dark family secrets swirling around them—secrets that turn to danger and could very well destroy not only their new beginning, but the lives of everyone they both love.
Long Road Home is rich with both physical adversity and emotional turmoil. This book shows a hero and heroine dealing with not only the hardships facing them at the moment, but the emotional hardships within their families of origin. Both Brett and Megan must learn to understand how those difficulties have molded them into the adults they are now, before they can be truly free to love with their whole heart.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I tend to be a writer who flies by the seat of her pants, and it’s always fun to see how my characters develop and learn life lessons that allow them to cope and heal well enough to love and be loved.
Why did you choose a horse ranch as the setting for Long Road Home?
I chose a horse setting because I grew up with three horses and have always loved everything about horses, from the smell of a barn to a soft nicker of welcome. I wanted this series to be a contemporary western series because I enjoy reading contemporary western romances and I love horses.
Above: My oldest granddaughter enjoying her favorite activity, riding a horse! I bought her riding lessons when she was four years old and she fell in love.
What do you think are the top three ingredients that are essential to every good romance book?
Romance goes without saying, but I’m still saying it! In addition, a good romance needs likeable characters you can identify with, character growth and conflict!
What is the most romantic thing you have ever experienced yourself?
Being waltzed across a parking lot at night to the car while my date sang. And I used that in the last book of this series, Home At Last! Release date for Home At Last is April 28!!
You are known for writing conflicts that feel genuine and believable. How do you pull that off?
I’m glad people feel that I pull this off! I’m lucky to have a sister who is a retired licensed clinical social worker and has the knowledge and experience to help me understand the root of my characters’ flaws. I have always enjoyed learning about both human and animal behavior. In our own lives, it’s imperative to look deep within and realize what drives us emotionally. That’s often very difficult to do. For instance: anger is much easier to deal with than grief, so people often stay stuck on anger when what they really feel is bone-deep grief. I, myself, am a pretty emotional person. I would imagine most writers are.
In a good romance novel, romance readers will often “fall in love” with the hero. What is it about Brett that makes him so endearing?
Brett is a caretaker and wants to take care of everyone, especially the people he loves. He will do whatever it takes to protect them and ensure they know he’s there for them. Plus he has a great sense of humor; I think humor is essential for a sexy hero. It certainly is for me in my own life.
Your books create a strong sense of community, and family ties seem to be important to your characters. Why is it so important to you?
Family ties are very important. Our family of origin is what molds us into the person we have become. All of us have trying times throughout our life—no one is immune to that—but how we perceive the people around us and cope with both our ups and our downs, is strongly tied to our family of origin. Even if we have had a horrible childhood, once we work through those dark emotions, we can cope in a much healthier way with what life throws at us, thus opening ourselves to healthy romantic relationships.
What aspect of being an author came as a surprise to you?
Authors today have to do so much more than they used to. Being computer savvy is so important, but for myself and many authors I know, it’s certainly not fun!! Authors love to write; most of us don’t love the technical aspect of promoting.
How will the other books in the Crystal Springs Homecoming Romances Series tie in with Long Road Home?
Each book in this series is a stand-alone book. However, readers will meet characters in each book who will have their own books. For example, in Long Road Home Megan is the heroine but her best friend, Francie, is the heroine in the second book, Coming Home. In fact, books two, three and four are about the Richardson siblings – two strong males and one very strong female.
Why romance novels? What drew you to the genre?
I’ve always loved reading romances. I suppose I’m a romantic at heart, plus I like reading stories with happy endings.
What are your three all-time favorite romantic movies? And why?
It’s hard to choose just three! Notting Hill, As Good As It Gets, and Out Of Africa. They are full on romance and genuine feelings and have believable and likeable, yet flawed, characters. Plus the acting was superb.
What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
A feeling of immense satisfaction even as they are sorry to see the story end.
Where is the best place for readers to stay up to date on your latest releases?