Chatting with Author Jessica Nelson

Today I’ve invited Jessica Nelson, author of Love on the Range, to join us to answer some questions about how she creates her characters. First let me introduce you. I first met Jessica online after she was contracted by Love Inspired and then in person at last year’s ACFW conference. She’s a sweetheart.

  In keeping with her romantic inclinations, Jessica married two days after she graduated high school.

She believes romance happens every day, and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness.

When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story. Or she might be daydreaming about a raspberry mocha from Starbucks. Or thinking about what kind of chocolate she should have for dinner that night.

…Is it any wonder her boys are wild?!

Jessica, thanks so much for joining us. Could you tell us a little about your research into the early days of the FBI? 

Sure! I have NO FBI experience *grin* But when I worked at the bank years ago, several good-looking FBI agents worked in our upstairs office, which triggered my interest long before I wrote this book.
At my first writing conference, I spoke with a well-known, kind agent who pointed out that he thought the name Striker sounded like the CIA, which he didn’t think had started at the time of my book. He was right. So I stuck with the FBI which was formed around 1909.

I played on the FBI website, read their history, and discovered the Mann Act of 1910. I took a bunch of liberty with this law but it really did exist due to some moral hysteria (or so certain writers claim). Whatever the case, there really were instances of women being transported for immoral purposes, and The Bureau of Investigation became somewhat involved with it (though little history of actual abductions). It’s fascinating. 🙂

How do you come up with your characters? 

How do I come up with my characters? I honestly used to think I just made them up as I wrote. But now, four manuscripts in, I’m starting to see some real similarities in my heroines to people in my life.

For example, Gracie is the heroine in Love On The Range. Curious, emotional, and verbose, I thought she was a work of fiction.

After refining the story, I asked my mom to read it. And cringed. It suddenly hit me how similar my mother and Gracie are. I certainly didn’t mean to model her after my mom, but no one in my family can deny their similarities.

Characters are thrilling to create. Hopefully in the future my muse will abstain from writing family members into my romances.

Your Turn: Are you a writer? If so, how do you think up a character? If you’re a reader, who is your favorite character? What is it about him or her that snagged your loyalty?  

Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win my gently read copy of Love on the Range 

Connect with Jessica at:


Opposites Attract, but Can it Last?

Last week, I read debut Love Inspired Historical novelist, Jessica Nelson’s Love on the Range and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had no idea that the FBI had already been formed at the time of WWI, which was enough of a hook to pique this romantic suspense reader’s interest. Add to that the undercover angle–a topic dear to my heart–and you’ll keep me reading into the wee hours. Not to mention that I’m a sucker for a hero in a cowboy hat. ~grin~

Today I’d like to chat about one of the questions from the back of the book, but first…the overview.

Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote
Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she’ll never have to depend on anyone ever again.

Rancher Trevor Cruz can’t believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Gracie’s pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he’ll use her determination to find “Striker” to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

Jessica did a great job of characterizing her brooding hero and her chatty naive, but endearing, young heroine. Trevor Cruz has a sad past. The son of a prostitute and a father who never had a kind word for him, he doesn’t believe in a God of love. While the heroine, a joyous believer, comes from a privileged, upper-class, Bostonian family and has never faced crises in her life…at least not at the beginning of the story. She’s traveled West to both escape the scourge of the influenza epidemic and to secure her independence by proving her mettle as a reporter.

But she soon discovers that life in the hot, barren plains is much different then she’d imagined and perhaps not a life she could embrace. Whereas Trevor loves the open range. 

Your Turn: Given their vastly different backgrounds, do you think a romantic relationship like theirs can last? What common values do you think create a satisfying, lasting relationship?

This week I’ll be giving away my gently read copy of Love on the Range to one of the commenters on today’s or Wednesday’s blog. Check back Friday to see if it’s you.