Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Heidi Thomas and Cowgirl Dreams

Raised on a ranch in isolated eastern Montana, Heidi Thomas has loved reading and writing since she was a child. A tidbit of family history, that her grandmother rode steers in rodeos during the 1920s, spurred Heidi to write a novel based on that grandmother’s life. Cowgirl Dreams is the first in a series about strong, independent Montana Women. A sequel, Follow the Dream, will be published in 2010.

Heidi has a degree in journalism, has worked in the newspaper business, and has had numerous magazine articles published. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, is a member of several writers organizations, writes, edits, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes.

Wlecome, Heidi. When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

I began telling stories before I could write. Later, I tried to emulate Nancy Drew mysteries or Zane Grey or whatever wonderful book I happened to be reading at the time. I’ve always loved to write.

I loved Zane Grey as well.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

That we all have dreams and need to pursue them, to find our path in life and follow it. We all have the potential for a gift or a passion, whether it’s for writing, hairdressing or auto mechanics. The path is never straight—we all take many side trips, get lost, forget the goal. But my advice is to never give up, even if we discover the direction we took at the beginning has changed.

Tell us more about Cowgirl Dreams.

Cowgirl Dreams is based on my grandmother’s life. (That seems to be my hook, what grabs potential readers’ interest.) In the book, Nettie Brady bucks 1920s convention and defies family and social norms with her dream of becoming a rodeo star. Broken bones, killer influenza, flash floods, and family hardship team up to keep Nettie from her dreams. Then she meets a young neighbor cowboy who rides broncs and raises rodeo stock. Will this be Nettie’s ticket to freedom and happiness? Will her rodeo dreams come true?

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? In what way?

Absolutely. I have learned how important it is to develop rounded characters, to show their feelings and reactions, rather than just “telling” the reader about them. What I particularly love about writing is that I’m continually learning something new and improving my craft. It’s never a dull life!

Specifically, how does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

It has had a great influence on my writing. I grew up on a ranch in isolated eastern Montana, without electricity and indoor plumbing for many years, so I could identify quite a bit with the way my grandmother lived her childhood. I rode horses and gathered cattle, but never participated in rodeo. Also, growing up this way formed me as a strong, independent woman, a trait passed along to me by my grandmother and my mother and encouraged by my father.

How do you promote yourself online and off?

I have a website and a blog. I belong to several on-line writers and book-related sites. I did a virtual book tour as well as a “reality” book tour. In addition to bookstores, I sell my book at western-related stores and gift shops and at arts and crafts fairs.

What are your current projects?

My sequel, Follow the Dream, will be out sometime in 2010. I am also writing a third “Nettie book.”

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website is and I blog at My book is available as an autographed copy through my website, and it is also available from my publisher and from the usual on-line sources.

It has become clear to me that I should have asked to interview you in person since I've been to the edge of Montana but an avalanche in Yellowstone kept us from going farther north. Next time, perhaps?

1 comment:

Susan Whitfield said...

Heidi is traveling and will check in soon.