Beneath the Covers Past

Elaine Nichols Interview
Review: Cowgirl Be Mine

Writing With Emotional Impact
An Interview with Elaine Nichols
By Suzie Housley
December 2001

Elaine Nichols love of romance started by reading gothics featuring such authors as Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Phyllis B. Whitney.  Later she moved on to Regencies with such authors as Georgette Heyer. She always loved a happy endings and dreamed of writng for such publishing firms as Harlequin/Silhouette.  Back in the 70s she submitted a manuscript to Mills and Boon unfortunately she found out soon that this was a learning experience that allowed her a chance to get her feet wet.  She has always enjoyed reading and writing about cowboy and cowgirl stories. For the past twenty years she has owned horses and majored in animal husbandry. She loves to ride and finds horses with lots of spirit especially fun so she makes it a point to include them in her stories.

For the past 7 years she has taken her love for writing to more serious level.  She joined a local RWA group five years ago, and now belongs to several larger RWA groups, some of which exist only on the internet. In addition, she is the editor of two RWA newsletters.

When she wrote Cowgirl Be Mine it was a story that was very close to her heart, one that she felt had to be told. She really didn't know if anyone would want to buy it because it was a different type of story than what you usually find in a category romance.  Surprisingly, it was accepted by the first editor who read it, so she feels very  fortunate. She has received a lot of rejection letters through the years, but she feels she cannot let obstacles stand in your way!

Suzie Housley: When did you first think about writing romance and what prompted you to submit your first manuscript?

Elaine Nichols:  I've been reading gothics since I was thirteen. I'm not sure the exact moment I decided to write my own, but by the time I was sixteen, I had several historicals under my belt. I moved on to other romances; suspense, sweet, regencies, contemporaries. I love happy endings. My first manuscripts were submitted to Mills and Boon in England.

Suzie Housley: Did you encounter any difficulty publishing your book since it featured a disabled character? 

Elaine Nichols:  I've had a ton of rejections, but on this story the first agent that read it liked it, and the first editor also. In fact, my editor said to me, "How did you know we were looking for this type of story?" I later heard my Sr. Editor at a conference say that when she first saw the story she wasn't sure about a disabled heroine, but she liked the story line and my writing.

Suzie Housley: Please tell us how you developed the idea for COWGIRL BE MINE and share a bit about how the story was created.

Elaine Nichols:  I had seen a story about one of the Kennedy's having his leg amputated, but he still went skiing, etc. I wondered what would happen if a woman who depended on her legs for her living suffered an amputation. How would it affect her emotionally and physically, not only the way others see her but the way she feels about herself. I wrote the story and then I went back and did a lot of research on prostheses and rehabilitation. I read case histories of quite a few amputees. Some people bounce right back, some people suffer for years with poorly fitted artificial limbs. A person's life is changed forever, how much change is determined by each individual; everyone deals with it in their own way. It's a story very close to my heart because it is such an emotional topic. Several people have asked me if I wrote this from having known an amputee and I take that as a compliment.

Suzie Housley: How long does it take you to research and write a book?

Elaine Nichols:  It depends on the book. I usually write the story and then go back and fill in details I'm not sure about.

Suzie Housley: How much of your life is given over to your writing? 

Elaine Nichols:  I have three children,I work around their schedules. I devote as much time as possible. I can write anywhere.

Suzie Housley: You certainly do such a wonderful job in keeping the reading spellbound, how do you go about developing your characters and plots?

Elaine Nichols:  I write the story and then go back over it several times, inserting new ideas, brainstorming with others at times, enlarging on subplots or conflicts.

Suzie Housley:  How long does it usually take you to create a book and get it to the publication stage? 

Elaine Nichols:  This book took about two years. The one I just finished about 6 months.

Suzie Housley: What tips can you share for inspiring writers to learn to write such emotional, gripping, page-turning novels such as COWGIRL BE MINE.

Elaine Nichols:  Thank you! Write what touches you, what fulfills you emotionally.

Suzie Housley: In COWGIRL BE MINE you did an outstanding job in your creation of characters.  Was it difficult finding such as pair as Mandy and Jake who complimented each other's strengths and weaknesses?

Elaine Nichols:  I love Jake and Mandy. She's so brash, so full of herself and independent, but at the end she's not afraid to admit when she's wrong.  Jake is a great guy! I wanted to make him look like her total opposite. Brash, outspoken Mandy and Jake the box-maker who takes care of the women in his life! What more could a woman ask for?

Suzie Housley: What do you hope your readers will come away with after reading your stories?

Elaine Nichols:  I hope they'll be touched by an emotional story. I hope they feel what I still feel when I read it, involvement, you want the couple to find happiness together.

Suzie Housley: Was your first book accepted or did you go back to the drawing board a few times?

Elaine Nichols:  I've been to that drawing board so many times it needs new slate!

Suzie Housley:  Which comes first--story, characters, or setting? 

Elaine Nichols:  Characters, always!

Suzie Housley: Where do your ideas come from? 

Elaine Nichols:  A dark, dark spot at the back of my head.

Suzie Housley: How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

Elaine Nichols:  I had a very happy childhood and parents who led me to believe I could do anything I wanted. Having said that, the bad things in the world bother me terribly, so that's why I write about things that make us uncomfortable but that I think should be brought into the light, topics such as domestic abuse, alcoholism, dysfunctional family units. It's a part of life but it doesn't mean we must suffer with it. My heroines are emboldened to pull themselves up.

Suzie Housley: What future works in progress can we look forward to seeing? Will  they also be romances?

Elaine Nichols:  I will always write romances. I can not resist the happy ending. My next story involves a woman running from her past, determined not to care, but the first thing she does is save the hero's daughter from serious injury. Right now I'm working on a marriage of convenience with a twist.

Suzie Housley: What do you think makes a hero attractive to a woman reader?

Elaine Nichols:  My take on this: A man who has the strength and caring to let a woman go if that's what she needs to do. Of course, my heroines know what's good for them and will always have the presence of mind to stay with the one man who was meant for them.

Suzie Housley: How can fans contact you? 

Elaine Nichols:  My website is and my email address is:


COWGIRL BE MINE by Elaine Nichols
Special Edition, No. 1428, A Woman's Way
Silhouette - October 2001 - Paperback
ISBN: 0373244282 - $4.50 US

Reviewed by  Suzie Housley, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy


Six seconds . . . that is all the time it had taken for Mandy Thomson's life to be turned upside down. The last face she remembered seeing was the man she had left her heart with ten years ago, Jake Miller. Suddenly she is involved in a freak rodeo accident that results in her right leg being amputated. Faced with the painful recovery of trying to adjust to the countless changes her disability presents she is unprepared for her building feelings for Jake. Will she have what it takes to win back her dream of going back to the rodeo? Or will her path lead to something she never anticipated?

Jake Miller had loved Mandy Thomson ever since he was nineteen years old. It had been ten years since Mandy walked out of his life by choosing the rodeo over the love he offered her. Learning Mandy will be present at a local rodeo he decides to go and say a last final farewell. He is unprepared to see Mandy involved in a horrific accident. Being by her side as the paramedics rescue her still form from underneath a lifeless bull makes him realize his love still holds strong. Intent on aiding Mandy in her recovery he offers her a safe haven until she is able to cope with her dilemma. Having Mandy under the same roof heightens his awareness for all that he lost. Will he have a second chance at love or will he lose his heart completely to a woman married to the rodeo?

Elaine Nichols COWGIRL BE MINE captures readers attention from page one. With descriptive language readers will be able to experience the pain and suffering of the heroine. With elements such as heartwarming, highly emotional and powerfully uplifting you cannot afford to miss out on this one.

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