Saturday, December 10, 2011

Guest: Kristy McCaffrey--The Wings of the West Series

Welcome, Kristy, to Sweethearts of the West.

Author Bio
Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. A fascination with science led her to earn two engineering degrees—she did her undergraduate work at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh—but storytelling was always her favorite hobby. Born and raised in Arizona, and recently returned after a 20 year absence in Pittsburgh, she writes Old West romances to capture the landscapes that were such a big part of her childhood. Her first novel The Wren was a CAPA winner for best new author traditional, a Texas Gold finalist, and a HOLT Medallion finalist for best first book. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, four children, and two chocolate labs, Ranger and Lily. Visit her online at

   I noticed from reading your bio that you have four young children. How do you manage to write with so much work to do?
"Well, my kids are mostly teenagers now so you’d think I’d have more time, but in reality running our lives does keep me busy. I tried for a long time to keep a regular schedule and ended up depressed when I couldn’t stick to it. Now I write whenever I can. Some days I don’t write anything but on others I’ll write for hours. I’ve come to realize it suits the way my creativity works, so I’ve relaxed my idea of a schedule. But the downside is I’m not a fast writer. I’ve had to make peace with that too." J
How did you become interested in writing?
"I’ve always written since I was little. Honestly, I couldn’t stop. But I didn’t become serious about publishing a book until I was in my 30’s. I was home with 4 young kids and writing was something I could do without leaving the house. The internet was such a blessing because I could network and research and submit to publishers without having to run all over the country, which I really couldn’t do anyway."

The titles of your books contain certain kinds of birds--The Wren, The Dove, The Sparrow. Can you explain this to us? Do you especially like birds, or are they an analogy of sorts for your characters?
"Yes, I love birds and yes they’re an analogy in the stories themselves. I didn’t consciously choose to write about birds at first but as the stories fleshed out it seemed to work. In The Wren the bird represents finding a way back home. The Rock Wren does this odd thing in that it lays a path of stones as a marker to its nest. The main character Molly is returning to her Texas home after a childhood spent with the Comanche. She’s trying to find that “path.” In The Dove the main character Claire has grown up in a brothel—The White Dove Saloon—so the obvious connection is with “soiled doves,” but the bird also represents a higher spiritual calling, which Claire pursues with her love of medicine. In The Sparrow the main character Emma undergoes a shamanic transformation while in the Grand Canyon and her spirit animal is a sparrow. The next book is called The Blackbird and since I’m still writing it I’m not sure how the bird mythology will play out.
I like discovering the connections as I go."

Do you have pets for your children? Or for yourself?
"Both. I’ve always had dogs so can’t imagine not having one around. We currently have two chocolate labs, Ranger and Lily. Just love them to pieces. My parents recently rescued two puppies on the Indian Reservation (they run wild up there—it’s heartbreaking) so we’ve all been having a good time getting to know them. They’re a cross between a coyote and a dingo."

What kind of movies do you enjoy? Have you ever cried in a movie?
"I’m a big movie-lover and have been my whole life. I like just about anything, except maybe horror. I really don’t like being scared. Yes, I cry all the time at movies! My kids make fun of me. I love Star Wars, Harry Potter, the Twilight Movies, Tron Legacy, Reign of Fire, Blue Crush, While You Were Sleeping, Practical Magic, Red Planet, Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, Independence Day, Galaxy Quest. From this list I think I like a lot of sci-fi."  

When you're stressed and have no time to make dinner, what is your emergency meal?
"I always keep a frozen pizza in the freezer; it’s very easy to pop in the oven. But I also have a 17-year-old son who loves to drive anywhere, so I can usually convince him to get take-out."

What stereotype would you label yourself?
"The shy author. I love that people love my books but I’m happy being a hermit."
Tell us about The Wren, The Dove and The Sparrow. Do these books have a common theme? Are they in a series?
"The Wren, The Dove, and The Sparrow are part of my Wings of the West Series, Books 1, 2 and 3, respectively. They’re connected through the characters."
The Wren:  Captured by Comanche as a child, Molly Hart was assumed dead. Ten years later Texas Ranger Matt Ryan finds a woman with the same blue eyes…
The Dove:  Reunited with Logan Ryan on the steps of The White Dove Saloon, Claire Waters hides under the guise of a fancy girl…and lets the ex-deputy believe the worst.
The Sparrow:  Plagued by visions, Emma Hart has come to Grand Canyon in search of answers. Texas Ranger Nathan Blackmore has come in search of Emma. Together they’ll delve into Hopi folklore and face an ancient evil.
Where can readers find your books?
The Sparrow (E-formats):
Will you give us an excerpt from the newest release, The Sparrow?
"I’m happy to!"
A brilliant sunset played across the western sky as Emma followed Masito and Nathan into the small Hopi encampment. After climbing for several hours, they emerged at the top of a flat plateau filled with pine trees. A strong wind greeted them, pressing against Emma, but she felt she could breathe again. She hadn’t realized how confined she’d felt down at the bottom of the canyon for the past few days, and how much hotter it was down low compared to the cooler highlands.
Watching Nathan’s broad-shouldered back, Emma felt relieved he had accompanied her. A sudden wave of discomfort passed through her about what was to occur with the boy and the Hopi people.
The boy.
Unease filled her and she wondered if this was some kind of test. She’d heard of such things—people who possessed great gifts of spirit and healing who were put through trials to determine their character and fortitude, their patience and courage.
Was she about to endure such an inquiry? Did she have latent healing abilities? If she did, she was unsure how to bring them forth.
The encampment consisted of several lean-to’s covered with animal skins, the ends flapping in the wind. Emma guessed there must be twenty or thirty Hopi present and not all of them were men. Women and children moved about also. Several fires burned and it appeared the evening meal was being prepared.
As the three of them approached, the people recognized Masito but didn’t come forward. Instead, they all stopped their movements to stare at the two strangers accompanying him.
As Emma got closer, she immediately felt the scorn and the jealousy coming from the women, mostly the younger ones with hair wrapped in extravagant buns on either side of their heads.
“Why do the women dislike me so much?” she asked quietly, stunned by the strength of the emotion permeating from the crowd.
“I’m wondering the same thing,” Nathan replied.
Emma felt relieved. Then it wasn’t in her imagination, or on the tip of her visionary skills.
Masito stopped for a moment and turned to face them. “There was one other thing I did not tell you. Pakwa saw something else. It is why the women in the tribe do not like you.” He looked at her. “You, Bahanas Healer, are also to be my wife.”
“Like hell.” Nathan stepped in front of her.
I know the books are published by a publisher we share--Whiskey Creek Press--and that the first two are available as separate books, and now, also in a "Mega Book" that contains both stories. I think this is a wonderful idea.
Where can readers find you?
Coffeetime Romance Forum (each month I post historical facts about the Grand Canyon):
Kristy, thank you for visiting with me today....
"Thanks Celia! It’s been wonderful to stop by the Sweethearts of the West Blog. I feel right at home with all these wonderful western authors.."


  1. Hi Kristy. It is so nice to meet you today. Your stories sound quite interesting. Love the birds on the covers. I love it that when we write we can insert things that we love and can share that love with the readers.

  2. Hi Kristy! I'm an animal lover too and especially birds, dogs and cats. I'm envious that you have two chocolate labs. They are hard to come by where we live, and I've always wanted a chocolate lab. We usually end up rescuing a puppy that needs protection and a home.

    Your stories sound intriguing. I've lived in the Southwest all my life. My Texas family was raised by women who traded with Indians in Texas and all over the west. Both my great great grandmother and great grandmother had close Indian friends who made huge differences in their lives. Aid and protection went both ways in those relationships and have inspired some of my stories.

    Do you have family members who have inspired your stories?

    Wishing you many enthralled and happy readers!


  3. Kristy, thank you for visiting Sweethearts and sharing with us today. Best wishes for continued success with your books.

  4. Hi Paisley, Jeanmarie and Caroline--Thanks so much for your comments! My husband and I got our chocolate labs in Pennsylvania. It was much easier to get them there (and not as expensive). Where we live in AZ dogs can be quite costly. Rescuing mutts is such a great endeavor. As for family inspiring my stories--I would say indirectly. My great grandfather worked with the Apache in AZ, although I've never written about it. Maybe one day.

  5. Hi Kristy!
    Well, I loved reading your interview and learning about you! I cracked up when I read the part about your 17 year old son wanting to drive all the time. I remember those days so well! My son put 75,000 miles on his car in ONE YEAR when he was 18-- I will say, much of that was work and school, but the bulk of it was NOT.LOL Anyhow, your books look wonderful and I really enjoyed your excerpt. Thanks for such an interesting look into your life and your writing.

  6. Vry interesting interview, Kristy.
    And I enjoyed your excerpt. I wish you continued success with your books. Another WCP author, Linda

  7. Hi Cheryl,
    Teenage boys do love to drive. I have another son who just turned 16 but hasn't gotten his license yet (he attends boarding school out-of-state). My husband and I are a bit relieved. He hasn't practiced enough to make us feel confident in his abilities.

  8. Hi Linda,
    So nice to hear from another WCP author. I really love your cover of the book you have with them!


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