My guest today is a fellow animal lover. Like author Gayle M. Irwin, I have always adopted pets from an animal shelter or rescue. She takes her love farther though. Please help me welcome Gayle to the interview hot seat! Let’s take a look at her bio and then dive right in, shall we?
Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning author and freelance writer, being recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She is a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the author of many inspirational pet books and stories for both children and adults. Her sweet, contemporary romance series, Pet Rescue Romance, consists of Rescue Road, Finding Love at Compassion Ranch, Rhiann’s Rescue, and My Montana Love. Gayle volunteers for various animal rescue and humane society organizations and donates a percentage of all book sales to such groups. Learn more about her and her writing, sign up for her monthly pet parent newsletter, and follow her bi-monthly blog, all on her website: https://gaylemirwinauthor.com/.
Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?
Gayle: I have worked for two different humane societies and I volunteer for various rescue groups; pet rescue and adoption is my passion. Therefore, when I decided to write romance books, I chose to weave the theme of pet rescue and adoption into my stories. I’ve created a series called the Pet Rescue Romance series – Rescue Road is the first novel in that series.
Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?
Gayle: My female protagonist. I based her a bit off myself. “Rhiann” is a freelance writer and is living in southwestern Montana; I began freelance writing (and later worked for a newspaper) in that region. “Rhiann” rescues animals and wants to establish an animal sanctuary on land she owns; I love helping pet rescue organizations, and if I could afford a large piece of property, I’d start an animal rescue sanctuary and family educational center (perhaps I’ll win the lottery and be able to see that dream happen! Lol).
Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?
Gayle: Situation – I wanted to subtly educate readers about pet rescue and adoption. Nearly one million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters in the United States; if more people adopted and spayed and neutered their animals, that number would drastically drop. Through Rescue Road and other books in my series, I subtly show how rescue and adoption helps animals AND people; the stories, therefore, are both entertaining and educational.
Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?
Gayle: About 10. I started the story in a creative writing class at the local college and it was completely different – with a different title, different characters, and different genre (inspirational romance). Although the story turned out completely different, I like the direction it took (and I haven’t scrapped the original; it remains in a file on my computer and may sprout back to life in the next year or two!).
Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?
Gayle: I turn on instrumental, soothing music. I enjoy having music play while I write, but I can’t handle words (they sometimes end up on the page!). I also drink coffee in the morning in my “Rescue Mom” cup given by a friend, and I sip on water or fruity water during the afternoons. My pets (two dogs and two cats) often hang out in the home office with me. I find that comforting and peaceful.
Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?
Gayle: I write either in my home office, at the mountain cabin my husband and I own, or at a friend’s guest house on her ranch. I enjoy viewing nature so outside my home office window I have bird feeders and a bird bath at which I can see various songbirds, like chickadees, red finches, and woodpeckers. At the ranch are horses, llamas, white-tailed deer and turkeys, and at the cabin we have hummingbirds, robins, mule deer, pine squirrels, and the occasional red fox. Nature inspires me, and I weave elements of the outdoors into my stories.
Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?
Gayle: Yes, I have a part-time job at a pregnancy resource center. My colleagues and I help women who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies navigate the waters of their new journey through advocacy, free pregnancy testing and ultrasound, resources, and on-site programs. I oversee some of the staff and a group of volunteers plus I use my writing skills to create blog and social media posts. I also am a freelance writer for a few print magazines and online publications. I enjoy all of my work because of the people who are my colleagues, and I enjoy the freelancing because I write about a variety of things, from people features and business profiles to nature essays and pet stories. I enjoy the diversity of topics and projects.
Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
Gayle: Creating a series. The idea for Rescue Road, as I mentioned earlier, was a completely different story, and it was to be a standalone. I’ve released three other books in the series and am working on a fourth (a Christmas novella). Once the first book was published, I realized I had more stories to share, and therefore, developed the idea for the series. I’m looking forward to adding the Christmas book and perhaps one more novel, or two more, to the series.
Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?
Gayle: Melissa Storm. She writes contemporary romance stories that feature animals, including In Love with the Veterinarian, In Love with the Rodeo Rider, and Lowcountry Love. She obviously enjoys weaving animals into her romance stories, so I think we’d have a lot in common. I also believe I could learn a lot from her about the craft of writing and the skill of marketing. Plus, we could talk for hours about our pets and our love for animals!
Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?
Gayle: I’m working on a plan to become a fulltime writer (freelance and author) by the end of 2022. That would be success to me – making a living from my writing. I don’t need wealth or fame, just enough money to sustain my household. I believe that would give me great joy as I so enjoy sharing stories, whether in book form, through magazines, or online publications. I’m on a journey toward that goal, and though the work is hard, that hard work also brings me joy as I reach new readers with my books and receive a new “yes” from a publication regarding an article.
Freelance writer Rhiann Kelly shelved romance for years. Her dream of starting an animal sanctuary takes deep roots after finding the perfect location in southwestern Montana and purchasing the property for back taxes. Emergency medical technician Levi Butler knows his elderly friend left the ranch to him in his will. Levi anxiously awaits the probate to be complete so he can plan his retirement and begin his dream of raising and selling horses. When Rhiann and Levi find each other at the ranch simultaneously, sparks fly – and not the romantic kind. Yet their mutual attraction deepens, especially after Levi finds Rhiann injured in an accident. Meantime, land developer Dallas Patterson sets his sights on charming Rhiann to obtain the land. Can Rhiann and Levi work together to detour Patterson and find a solution in which neither needs to give up their dream, or will the fence line of their hearts – and the property – separate them forever? Can their broken paths weave their hearts together as they travel the rescue road?
Thanks for sharing your pet rescue series with us, Gayle! They sound like a good read and a good way to help those organizations that care for and rescue animals.
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