I’m pleased to be a part of this exciting launch of a new series.
The book jacket description sounds like something kids and adults will find appealing:
When Annabelle Fortune, the fastest gunslinger in the wild west, inadvertently stops a stranger from attacking a train — and he wears a suit that enables him to fly! — the government believes she’s the only one to have witnessed the Locomotive Reaper and survived to tell the tale.
Promising to find out what he can about her missing father, the Director of the Secret Service persuades Annie to swear in. Too soon, her detested nickname re-stakes its claim.
Partnered with Beau Slokam, whose penchant for gambling leads them straight to the Doom Gang, Misfortune Annie guides the smooth-talking Southerner in a chase through the Rockies, with her Cheyenne friend, Wontoa, rounding out their unlikely trio.
When Annie again meets the Locomotive Reaper, his gadgetry proves far more advanced — and deadly — than even top scientists could have imagined.
I strapped on some chaps and spurs and sat down with the authors. They graciously answered a few questions.
Thank you for joining me at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE. Where did the idea come from for this unique sounding series?
First off, thank you for hosting us, Greg, and it should be known that I’ve never matured beyond middle school.
To honestly tell Misfortune Annie’s beginning, we must first return to a greater influence. I love George Lucas’s work, specifically the Indiana Jones series. It’s popular knowledge that the rugged archeologist first showed in spirit in old matinee serials which George grew up watching, except he tweaked him a little. Indy’s trusty whip originated from Zorro cliffhangers. So, hoping to create anything that could compete with Indy, I grazed around in the same cinema of the 1940s/50s and remembered the cowboy genre. The Cisco Kid, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, they were iconic. So, like Indy, my new star had to have a catchy name and a signature look. He was going to have a 10-gallon hat, and a Levi’s jacket, but I never got to name him because fate threw in a twist and I could never go back to a male protagonist.
One Christmas vacation, traveling to see relatives, I passed a sign that bragged “Annie Oakley Museum”. Jolted into goosebumps, I knew I had my new hero. It would be a young lady.
What came first– the plot or the characters?
Annie roped me first, per the vacation, then a villain came to mind which I knew would be steampunk because I kept seeing gears, LOL, although I didn’t know at that time he’d be able to fly. Then a general storyboard that led to the mad scientist’s lair in the final showdown emerged. Like the gears, I could see lots of gadgetry lying around. I don’t plot until I have ‘stars’, so the next lovable character was Beau Slokam. Once we had the personalities, the motivations and twists could be nailed down and the additional characters almost present themselves to me based on need.
What challenges came forth in co-authoring a book? How did you make this work?
We wrote while River Dancing to Lady Gaga jams. That way, we were too tired to argue. No. Actually, I believe story structure is a lot like building a house. You get a sturdy foundation, posts, beams, studs and walls in place, then you can get creative with siding, round windows, fuzzy carpet, paint and etcetera. If the character motivations are clear and the scenes are outlined, I don’t care what happens as long as we observe conflict. So, we get to alternate chapters and be individually creative. But I am a stickler for motivations being tight as my outstanding co-author Janet can attest.
Is Anabelle Fortune, your brave MC, patterned after any real historical character besides Annie Oakley?
Yeah, Janet rides, shoots, and picks up snakes. She makes me feel downright wimpy. Just kidding, although Janet really is a cowgirl. I’d be remiss not to mention these legendary tough ladies in addition to Annie Oakley: Belle Starr and Calamity Jane. That’s what’s exciting about our hero—she could’ve really existed.
Can you tell us more about the “Fun Facts” readers will find at the very back of the book? We decided to incorporate some historic facts in each book, and the “Fun Facts” helps define certain facts versus fiction. One example is the waist overalls made by Levi Strauss that Annie wears. These were the original blue jeans, and in our Fun Facts a reader will learn that when they were first created by German-born businessman Levi Strauss and Latvian-born tailor Jacob Davis, blue jeans were actually called “waist overalls.” The duo received a patent for them on May 20, 1873, with a product that had one back pocket, a watch pocket, a cinch, and brace buttons. When a young reader reads this Fun Fact, we hope it inspires them to pause and consider the origins of other everyday items. Perhaps there are many young inventors out there, in need of inspiration and a nudge!
What type of reader would most enjoy the story? What would you say to young readers reluctant to open a book set in another time?
All readers. To those who might be hesitant because of history, well, Nazi Germany showed in Indiana Jones twice. The film didn’t stop to bore you with a lesson and neither does Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper. I was a very fidgety kid and hated most books that got too serious because too many stories trying to be educational forget to be compelling. It’s really hard to do. So, we’re sticking with the fun stuff and there are simply a couple of historical references in there.
Completing and publishing a book is a huge accomplishment. What part of the experience for this book was the most difficult?
While drafting one scene, I had an ingrown toenail that caused me to limp—very annoying—but otherwise it just took a lot of time.
I hope you got that fixed! Do you have any hints on what is next in the series or with other writing projects?
Forever a joker, I will make sure it’s funnier. In book 2, Annie tangles with a Voodoo doctor. An older Huckleberry Finn smuggles her downriver to a showdown with this villain, but can she trust him? Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau, steps in to help. Later in the series, there will be cameos by Teddy Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody, Thomas Edison, and bouts with pirates, an Appalachian witch, Sasquatch, a beast master, and more. Will Annie be able to outwit them all? Tune in next time on your same Misfortune station!
Thanks for your compelling answers. Cue the sunset as they go riding off on their next adventure. I’m staying back on the ranch as these chaps and spurs are killing me.
Meet the Authors
Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later, she resigned from the firm to follow the yellow brick road. Ten months after that, she signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her historical romance Soliloquy a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.
With husband Richard, Janet co-wrote Fogg in the Cockpit (Casemate), one of five books nominated in 2012 by the Air Force Historical Foundation for best World War II book reviewed in Air Power History.
Keeping her historical knowledge sharp, Janet manages the 359th Fighter Group’s Facebook page, sharing WWII stories and photos about the Fighter Group. She is also a proud member and 2015/16 Vice President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She previously served as Published Author Liaison in 2010.
Not your typical author, Dave Jackson started writing in his constant pursuit to become a renaissance man, but later fell in love with the art form. He performs stand-up and skits regularly, as Comedy remains one of his many passions and he writes and performs skits, as well as stand-up. Also a songwriter and guitarist, Dave has composed over 300 musical titles.
A country boy, Dave was raised in Oklahoma and taught 6th grade English for two years. He enjoys sharing the tale about when he climbed high into a towering black jack tree and grabbed a dead branch. Snap! He hurtled toward his death, but he held tight to the branch and it slowed his fall, saving his life.
In 2013, Dave enjoyed the release of Tattoo Rampage by Curiosity Quills Press. The novel follows Evangelina Marquez-James, a strong female heroine, who gets her first tattoo as a symbol of courage to carry on after her police officer husband dies in the line of duty.
Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper Links
Misfortune Annie Official Website
Misfortune Annie on Facebook
Janet “The Kid” Fogg on Facebook
Janet “The Kid” Fogg on Goodreads
Janet “The Kid” Fogg on YouTube
“Gusto” Dave Jackson on Facebook
“Gusto” Dave Jackson on Goodreads