Interview with Carla Kelly, Author of The Star in the Meadow

“A romance in the middle of a really good Western novel.”
Roundup Magazine
INTERVIEW

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your book, Carla!

1. What’s your inspiration for The Spanish Brand Series? What connects all the stories in the series?

Years ago, I was reading a Spanish borderlands text and came across a footnote about a juez de campo, who served as the law in areas where there was little law. A footnote piqued my interest. One of my sons was living near Taos, NM. The more I thought about that footnote and New Mexico, the more I wanted to novelize it. As a novelist, you want to get your characters in an uncomfortable spot and get them out of it. What better place than 1780s New Mexico, when Spain struggled against a more powerful empire – the Comanches? Bingo.

2. Tell us more about Marco Mondragon and his wife Paloma. How was life for them back then?

The Mondragons are generally accurate representations of their era, when life could be short and harsh, because they lived in a highly dangerous place in North America in the 1780s. They are religious, maybe a little superstitious, and brave because they have to be. Life as depicted in the novels is pretty accurate. Spain was losing its grip on that part of the New World. There was a concerted effort to make peace with the Comanche. There was a smallpox epidemic as listed in Book Two. There was a treaty as found in Book Four.

3. What about Catalina? Why would readers sympathize with her?

Let’s face it: Life doesn’t always move smoothly, does it? Catalina sees ruin all around her, and no way out of it. Several times in all four books, I’ve made the point that The Double Cross and the Mondragóns are willing to take people as they are, and work their own small miracles. I think readers will understand a character like Catalina, who sees, and learns, and helps. I suspect many of them do precisely that, in their own lives. Now or 1784, readers identify with basic goodness and the need to make our way with grace in the world.

4. Who is Juaquim Gasca? What makes him a swoon worthy hero?

Joaquim first appears in Book Three. He’s a former royal engineer busted down to private for several reasons. He’s a man with no hope. (Joaquim Gasca is a Catalonian Spanish name, in itself an interesting place.) He changes and becomes a far better man, because – as he points out, himself – the Mondragóns take what they find, imperfections and all, and work with them. They see the man he can become, not the man he is, and he rises to the occasion. Joaquim is a monumentally human character who changes. We admire this in him.

5. What’s up next in the series?

Book Four, The Star in the Meadow, is the logical end to the Spanish Brand Series. Through all four books, Marco Mondragon, who inhabits that edge of Comanchería, has been tasked by the governor, to find a way to negotiate an eventual peace with the fierce and frightful Comanche. Each book has moved that process along. The Star in the Meadow ends with that peace treaty nearly a reality. Incidentally, it did become a reality, and it actually held. That was rare, indeed, in North American white/Indian relations.

6. What’s your next project?

I’m halfway through book one of a trilogy beginning in 1803 Portsmouth, England. Sailing Master Able Six, certified genius of amazingly low birth (found on church steps as a squalling infant), puts his talents to work teaching former workhouse boys like himself how to prepare themselves for service in the Royal Navy. He is aided by his new wife, Meridee, who sees herself as “Keeper” of his rare and sometimes disturbing genius. I’m writing this for Camel Press, too.

Book Cover
THE STAR IN THE MEADOW
Carla Kelly
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 4
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Will Marco choose love or duty?
Marco Mondragón and his wife Paloma are living hectic but happy lives at the Double Cross, on the edge of Comanchería. Five years after the death of Comanche leader Cuerno Verde, cautious diplomacy between the tribe and the colonists is underway to end Comanche raids into New Mexico. Paloma’s time has been fully consumed by her two toddlers and newborn son and Marco’s by spring planting.
The Seven Year Audit of 1784 arrives and with it comes auditor Fernando Ygnacio. After years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit, Señor Ygnacio is a broken man. Although his daughter Catalina is bitter about his mistreatment by his superiors, her storytelling abilities captivate the household, including a frequent visitor from the nearby presidio, El Teniente Joaquim Gasca, who has been undergoing his own reformation from rascal to leader.
Unknown to him, Marco has peculiar enemies plotting his downfall. When Paloma and Catalina set out on a visit to Marco’s sister, meant to give Paloma relief from her busy life, the women are kidnapped. Devastated, Marco is torn between love and duty. He yearns to search for his wife, but feels bound by colonial duties to accompany his friend Toshua to Río Napestle, where Comanches have gathered to debate the region’s fragile peace. In his absence from the Double Cross, will Joaquim Gasca and Toshua’s wife Eckapeta be able to find the missing women?
Carla Kelly’s writing is masterful, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this whole series, and I believe you would enjoy each book more if you read them all. STAR IN THE MEADOW is a stellar conclusion which will reside on my keeper shelf.
– Roses Are Blue Blog
I love this series… Carla Kelly is my favorite modern author… She writes from accurate historical research and facts…plus the lady knows how to weave romance into her stories for my girly-side!”
– Patti, Goodreads Reviewer

Purchase Links

Other Books by the Author

Don’t miss the other books in The Spanish Brand series by Carla Kelly.
Book Cover
THE DOUBLE CROSS
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 1
In the royal colony of New Mexico, 1780, Marco Mondragón is a brand inspector living next to the fierce Comanche. On a trip to Santa Fe, he meets Paloma Vega and rescues her from cruel relatives. He vows to find out if they stole the brand belonging to her parents.
“Carla Kelly’s vivid storytelling plunges the reader into a tense, hypnotic tale of love and courage in The Double Cross.”
– Diane Farr, bestselling author, Regency Romance and Young Adult fiction
Book Cover
MARCO AND THE DEVIL’S BARGAIN
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 2
Marco and his wife Paloma fight the scourge of smallpox by bravely venturing onto the Staked Plains, stronghold of the Comanche. As part of a devil’s bargain, they must put themselves at the mercy of these dangerous enemies and try to inoculate them.
“Though I didn’t read The Double Cross first, I still managed to fall head over heels for Marco and Paloma. That is a good testament to Ms. Kelly’s amazing writing.”
– Alexandra Anderson, All About Romance
Book Cover
PALOMA AND THE HORSE TRADERS
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 3
At the end of the 18th century in the Spanish Colony of New Mexico, Marco and Paloma face a new threat to their ranch. To defeat Great Owl, a renegade Comanche, they form a ragtag army that includes a ghost from Paloma’s past.
“This book will take one’s breath away with the deep, emotional romance and highly likable characters.”
– RT Reviews

Giveaway

WIN
Giveaway Graphic
Be one of three lucky winners:
$15 Gift Card (Amazon or Barnes & Noble)
2 x print copy of The Star in the Meadow

About Carla Kelly

Author Pic

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-seven novels and three non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Social media links (Camel Press Books): Facebook | Twitter

Join The Tour

Follow the book tour from May 16 – June 5, 2017.
Get sneak peaks, excerpts, fun facts and other never-before-published info on The Star in the Meadow.
Tour Graphic

In partnership with
Book Unleashed