For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Jill Kemerer. Jill is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of heartwarming, emotional, small-town romance novels often featuring cowboys. Her essentials include coffee, caramels, a stack of books and long walks outdoors in Ohio where she resides with her husband.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I’m a homebody who loves to cook and bake. I love watching The Great British Baking Show. I don’t know how the contestants get their desserts to look so amazing. My cakes might taste yummy, but they usually aren’t lookers!
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
Yes, THE MISTLETOE FAVOR, is listed as the third book in my Wyoming Ranchers series. It’s set during the holidays in the fictional town of Sunrise Bend, Wyoming.
Here’s the back cover copy:
It will take one special cowboy
To make this season bright.
After gaining guardianship of his half sister, wealthy rancher Mac Tolbert hopes a part-time job during the holidays will help the grieving teenager. New coffee shop owner Bridget Renna has been on her own since sixteen and is immediately drawn to the shy orphan—and her handsome brother. But as Bridget grows closer to the siblings, will her troubled past ruin their chance at a Christmas together?
What made you choose small-town Wyoming as your setting?
Several years ago, I’d been writing books set in a fictional small-town in Michigan, and I found myself gravitating toward cowboys and ranchers. Obviously, cowboys are out west, so I had to rethink where to place the new series. I did some research and fell in love with Wyoming. It’s such a vast, beautiful state. It has the lowest population in the United States and unique topography and weather, depending on what part you’re in.
Have you lived in or visited Wyoming? What research was required to set a book there?
Believe it or not, I’ve never lived in or visited Wyoming. My husband and I have it on our wish-list. Since I grew up in rural Michigan, I could relate to the self-sufficient lifestyle required of people who live there.
As for research, initially I spent a lot of time reading memoirs set in Wyoming, then researching the history of the state and various regions. I also sought out group forums of people who live in Wyoming to ask them specific questions. With each new series, I research the general area where I’m setting the fictional town, and I print out weather patterns, landmarks, popular destination sites, typical homes and local businesses.
YouTube gives me a wealth of information. From the challenges of cattle ranching to “seeing” an actual road trip on the highway near my fictional town. It’s important for me to get it right. That being said, I’ll be the first person to admit I write life the way I want it to be and that includes the setting.
What are some of the challenges your characters face moving from a big city to small-town Wyoming?
The heroine in my new book moves from New York City to Sunrise Bend, Wyoming, in late October. Bridget has lived her entire life in NYC, and she had a terrible childhood. She found herself on the streets at the age of sixteen. One of her biggest challenges in moving to a small town is not knowing how to drive. Transportation is limited. She has to make it a priority to get her driver’s license, and it’s nerve-wracking.
Other challenges Bridget faces? The noise level. It’s so quiet in Sunrise Bend. It makes it hard for her to sleep. The hardest part of the move for her, though, is being in a fishbowl. Everyone knows everybody’s business in a small town. Unlike the city, where she easily blended in as just another nameless face, there’s nowhere to hide here. And she doesn’t want anyone to know the truth about her past.
Were resources easy or difficult to find? Do you have a favorite resource?
I don’t think I’d survive without the internet! I watch a lot of YouTube videos, but I also scan countless articles for details to make each book authentic. For instance, I had to find out the laws regarding getting a driver’s licenses in Wyoming.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
That’s such a good question, but I can’t think of any offhand. I try to cram it all in!
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
There are two more books in the Wyoming Ranchers series—DEPENDING ON THE COWBOY and THE COWBOY’S LITTLE SECRET. They’ll both be released in early 2023.
Right now I’m working on the first book in a new series for Love Inspired. I recently signed a six-book contract. I’m really excited about it! Book one will be a 2023 Christmas book, and it features one of the recurring characters from Wyoming Ranchers—Erica Mayer.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Jill, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of The Mistletoe Favor, where might they be able to do so?.
Purchase links to all major retailers can be found at THE MISTLETOE FAVOR.
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
Thank you, Danielle, for hosting me! (You’re welcome!)
Over Sunday Dinner next week historical fiction author Marilyn Turk will be joining us. See you then!