BIO: Alison grew up in Kansas City on the edge of the prairie, the product of a long line of pioneering women. One grandmother was born in Broken Bow, Nebraska, and the other majored in physical education in college – an eccentric choice for a woman in the ‘twenties. Like any pioneer, Alison's always been intrigued by new places and experiences. She went off to New York to study art history at Vassar College, and by the time she was twenty-one, had traveled the world from Japan to Tunisia. Unlike many writers, she didn’t always have the writing bug. She was first bitten when she temporarily quit work to stay home after her daughter was born. She's always been an avid reader and decided to try her hand at writing the kind of stories she loved. After many months of typing away during naptime and pre-school, the first manuscript was born. And quickly died. But it was followed by another and then another. She was hooked on the creative process. Today, she and her husband are empty-nesters living in Minnesota, and their daughter is a graduate student in Chicago.
Thanks for being here, Alison. It’s a pleasure.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…
My day job is Vice President of Underwriting and New Business for a large life insurance brokerage. That means I spend several hours a day reading other people’s medical records trying to help them find insurance. I love my staff, and the medical aspects are interesting, but I’m anxiously awaiting the day I can retire and devote more time to writing. I’m also an avid gardener - no small challenge here in Minnesota. I have a row of pink roses in front of my house that always draws rave reviews from the neighborhood walkers.
#2- You began writing later in life. What made you finally take that plunge from loving the writing process to wanting to be published?
I had been working for ten years by the time I had my only child, and staying home was a major adjustment. There’s no question that a baby keeps you busy, but as soon as she started pre-school I was ready for a new challenge. I’d never tried writing fiction, but I bought several how-to books and dove in. As soon as I discovered RWA, I joined and set my sights on publication. In the eight years I was at home, I completed three manuscripts, won a few contests, and hired and fired an agent. It was MANY more years before I sold my first book. I’m the poster child for perseverance.
#3- How do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?
I try to look for comments that resonate with me, something I can use to improve my work, and I usually end up finding something of value. The rest I chalk up to differences in personal taste. There are always people who just don’t “get” what you’re trying to do, and that’s their right.
#4- Can you tell us a bit about the book in this giveaway and what the inspiration was?
The setting for Harvest of Dreams was inspired by the small river town of Weston in northwest Missouri, just north of Kansas City where I grew up. The Civil War devastated the local economy, which had been based on tobacco farming and riverboat commerce, and the downturn allowed Weston to move gently into the twenty-first century with many antebellum buildings still intact. I was able to walk the old brick streets in the footsteps of my characters and use original buildings as the settings for a number of scenes.
My heroine, Lisa McAllister, was based on a young woman I worked with many years ago. While she was in the hospital giving birth to her first child, her husband announced he was leaving her for another woman. Although barely out of her teens, the young woman handled the situation with grace and courage, and I always wanted to give her a happy ending, even if only in fiction.
Here’s a 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 strong hands of a stranger wearing 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. Against his better judgment, his feelings of protectiveness toward Lisa and her baby turn to something deeper, and he is tempted by the possibility of a family of his own. Can their tender new love survive when an act of ultimate violence threatens to tear them apart?
#5- Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites?
Between a full time job and my own writing, I don’t have much time for “fun” reading anymore, but I always pick up anything by Jane Ann Krentz. I also love Karen Robards, Lisa Kleypas, and Celeste Bradley. As a child growing up on the prairie, I was a devoted fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series.
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?
The sequel to Harvest of Dreams, entitled A Man Like That, comes out later this year from The Wild Rose Press. I don’t have a release date yet, but I’ve posted the gorgeous cover on my website at www.alisonhenderson.com. Please stop by and take a peek. It’s set in the Ozark Mountains and follows two of the secondary characters of Harvest of Dreams.
#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today, Kelly! I’ve had a great time and would love to hear from anyone else who refused to give up on her dreams.