Wanda Kay Fittro lives in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Southwest Missouri. Born and raised in a small town community, gave her an appreciation for that lifestyle, and provides the inspiration for her novels. A love affair with books started early on while reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the bed covers. She won the prestigious Missouri Literary Festival Reader's Choice award in 2011 for her Civil War short story One, Two, And Three. She served as president for the Sleuth’s Ink Mystery Writers and works with Ozark Romance Authors as well.
I read your first novel, Beyond the Horizon, several weeks ago and I’ll have to say I loved it! The first few pages made me worry about the outcome but by then I was hooked. This was a pretty tough subject to start with, Wanda. What made you go in this direction?
It is a tough subject. One that people would rather not talk about or face. You don't have to look much further than today's headlines to see how abuse affects many; either directly or indirectly.
My daughter's situation became my inspiration. She has been in an abusive relationship and as much as I tried to help her, I couldn't. It was and still is a journey she has to face on her own. I needed to write this story to help myself understand her decisions. And, of course, I hope for a 'happily ever after' for her.
Including a farm family, a little boy and a handsome cowboy had me wanting to pull up roots and head for wide open spaces. Is there a little of you in that heroine?
I like small towns. My mother's family lived on a farm and I grew up with an appreciation for that life style. There is just something genuine about those places and people.
What kinds of things inspire you to write? And since you also have a day job when do you find the time to create such terrific characters?
It is tough to find the energy to write while trying to make a living and taking care of every day chores. I'm not a morning person, so getting up early is not an option. I do most of my writing on weekends.
I find inspiration in music, especially country because the songs tell a story. I usually have one song that becomes my book theme.
Is there another novel in the works?
Yes. Right now I'm trying to finish the first draft of Coming Home. It's also a small town story about a woman coming home to bury her mother and running into memories including her high school sweetheart. The first chapter received a second place finish in the Weta Nichols Writing Contest. That was a good shot in the arm for me.
In today’s busy world what is the best thing an aspiring writer can do for themselves to increase their chances of getting published?
Find a supportive writer's group and critique group. Go to the meetings even if you don't want to. I've never left a meeting and not felt at least a little more inspired. Or, if there is no group in your neck of the woods, find support online. Don't think you have to do this all on your own. Feedback is invaluable in your writing journey.
So many times these kinds of interviews ask about the best advice you were ever given as a writer. But I think readers need to also know we get some really awful advice from time to time. What was that for you?
When I brought the first chapter of Beyond The Horizon to critique group, most of the people thought the opening was too rough. They said I should start it differently. But, one person had tears rolling down her face. She told me it was perfect, not to change a thing. At that moment I knew she had been abused at some time and I ignored the other comments.
As I said earlier, I gobbled up your book. Give readers a blurb to wet their appetite.
When Katie Sullivan makes the hasty decision to run away from an abusive relationship, she has no clue what is ahead of her. She only knows it has to be better than her life up to now. Her boyfriend is a powerful drug dealer who will stop at nothing to get her back. She knows too much. Car trouble leaves her stranded in the middle of Kansas, with little money, and a growing fear of failure.
Widower Josh Warner works and lives on an elderly couples’ farm. He juggles the responsibilities of raising his young son and his passion for the rodeo. Unable to let go of his deceased wife’s memory and on the rebound from a misguided affair, he has no desire for another relationship. But, when Katie appears out of nowhere, everything changes.
Against all reason, Katie and Josh find themselves drawn to each other. If the past catches up to them, their newfound passion, and their lives could be in jeopardy. Can their love win against the evil headed their way?
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Purchase Beyond The Horizon here: