Thanks for joining me, Deborah, for this interview. Your blog is entitled Country at Heart and is a big draw for those of us who love all things country. Share some of your favorite things about the country life.
Hi Beth, Thanks for having me on your blog. One of the reasons I set up my Country at Heart blog was to appeal to those who live in the country, once lived in the country and have fond memories of it/long to return, or for those who have never lived in the country but wish they did. J One of the most appealing things about country life for me is the quiet and solitude there. We live on an isolated road and hardly have any vehicle traffic, so it is quite pleasant! I like stepping out my door and being greeted by the fresh air, our land, and our animals—and I especially like taking walks on our country road with our two golden retrievers.
What was your inspiration for Snow Melts in Spring?
Years ago, I took a Flint Hills Folklife course at Emporia State University that was taught by Dr. Jim Hoy. Along with classroom study, we took field trips into the heart of the Flint Hills and visited with old-time ranchers, schoolmarms and post-mistresses. It was such a delightful experience, especially our drives into the pastures. We would get on these back roads and drive over pasture guards into the open range. We would travel for miles without seeing another car or even an electric line—just pure, native prairie. That summer, I fell in love with the Flint Hills and it has stayed with me all this time. I’m so glad I have this chance to share this place with my readers in this book and in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series.
Can you share about the journey of publication for SMOS?
I wanted to be a writer since High school, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I began taking serious steps to get to the goal. I joined a local writer’s group and ACFW, (an online writing organization), joined a critique group, read writing how-to’s and attended writing conferences. I met my first agent at the ACFW Nashville Conference. We hit it off at our meeting, and she gave me some tips on making my book series “bigger.” I did that and submitted my idea to her and she took me on. We shopped Snow Melts in Spring and the Seasons of the Tallgrass series for a year and had a few bites (one of them Zondervan) but no sale. In the end, she released me, which was a real heart breaker. However, we don’t always see the big picture like God does, and six months later I signed with agent, Rachelle Gardner with WordServe Literary, and we had an offer from Zondervan three months after that.
Family, ranching and farm life in rural Kansas, how much of yourself and your life did you draw from to write SMOS?
A great deal of it, actually. I grew up on a farm and have lived all of my life in the country (minus 5 years while in college). Both of my brothers work farms/ranches, and my husband and daughters ride and train horses, so many of the ranch/horse scenes come from something I’ve seen or heard about—including Gil’s bull chase. J Like Mattie, my main female character, I love the country life and in particular, the Flint Hills. As a young woman, I remember living in Topeka, KS and yearning for wide open spaces. I soon found myself returning to my home roots. My character Mattie is intent on never leaving hers. I guess I can identify with that.
Your love of horses clearly comes through in the story. When did you first fall in love with them? Can you share about your own horses? Their names? Personalities?
As a young girl, I had a Welch pony named Freckles. She liked to roll in freshly disked fields or even in creeks—with me on top. I remember passing through a creek one time, and that old pony went down for one of her rolls. I stayed perched on the saddle, not wanting to get my boots wet. Another horse was an American Saddlebred named Strawberry. She liked to jump fences. My freshman year in high school, I was out riding and one of the reins broke on the bridle, and my horse took off for home as fast as she could. She raced past the house and back to the barns, headed for the other horses in the pasture—and straight toward a fence. Believing I wouldn’t survive the jump, I jumped on my own and dove for the ground. Wound up breaking my wrist and upper arm. I didn’t get on another horse until I turned 30. Those were the horses I grew up with. My husband trains American Quarter horses that are much more behaved—and not barn-sour. Right now we have seven horses, and they are all very calm and mild-mannered. We register them with names from the Bible, nicknames in parenthesis. Saul Henry (Larry), Twistn Moses Belle (Moe), Josiah Lass (Joe), Revielles Enoch (Dunny) and Elijah Belle (Little Blackie).
Thanks so much for this opportunity to share my life with you and your readers, Beth.
Deborahs Website: http://deborahvogts.com/