Author Jackie North joins us to talk about her Farthingdale Ranch series, including the latest installment The Ranch Hand and the Single Dad. Jackie tells us all about the series and the men who come to visit the ranch. We also find out the origins of Farthingdale Ranch, which trace back to Jackie’s time travel series, Love Across Time. Of course we also find out how Jackie started writing, the genres she’d like to try to write someday, and she shares some book recommendations.
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Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Jackie North Interview
- Jackie North: website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Farthingdale Ranch series by Jackie North on Amazon
- The Ranch Hand and the Single Dad by Jackie North on Amazon
- Love Across Time series by Jackie North on Amazon
- Honey from the Lion by Jackie North on Amazon
- Barbara Cartland on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Love and the Marquis by Barbara Cartland on Amazon | Kobo
- The Prince and the Pekingese by Barbara Cartland on Amazon | Kobo
- Saved by the Duke by Barbara Cartland on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Earl in Peril by Barbara Cartland on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Poor Governess by Barbara Cartland on Amazon | Kobo
- Angsty G website
- The Foreman and the Drifter by Jackie North on Amazon
- The Blacksmith and the Ex-Con by Jackie North on Amazon
- Wendy Rathbone on Amazon
- The Wrangler and the Orphan by Jackie North on Amazon (pre-order until January 25, 2022 )
- The Cook and the Gangster by Jackie North on Amazon (pre-order until February 22, 2022 )
- The Trail Boss and the Brat by Jackie North on Amazon (pre-order until March 22, 2022 )
- Somewhere in Time on Amazon Prime Video
- Ride the Whirlwind by Jackie North on Amazon
- Wild as a West Texas Wind by Jackie North on Amazon
- Heroes for Ghosts by Jackie North on Amazon
- Joanna Lindsay on Amazon
- LaVyrle Spencer on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Over and Over Again by Cole McCade on Amazon
- K.M. Neuhold on Amazon | Libro.fm
- A.M. Arthur on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Coming up on this episode, we take a trip to Farthingdale Ranch as we talk to author Jackie North about her cowboy romance series.
Jeff: Welcome to episode 326 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Jeff Adams and with me as always is my co-host and husband Will Knauss.
Will: Hello, rainbow romance readers we are so glad that you could join us for another episode of the show.
Jeff: Since it’s summer, it seemed like the perfect time to take a trip to a ranch. What better way to spend some time than with some sexy cowboys. Jackie North’s “Farthingdale Ranch” series fits that bill perfectly. She just released the third book in this series and with at least three more planned, you can make several return trips to this place.
Jackie recently joined me to talk about the series, including the latest installment, “The Ranch Hand and The Single Dad,” and one of the most interesting and frankly unexpected things we talk about is that this series is a spinoff of her “Love Across Time” travel series. It was really cool hearing how these series intersect.
We also find out why she decided to start up a series about cowboys and we get details about what’s still to come in the series.
Jackie North Interview
Jeff: Jackie, welcome to the podcast. It is wonderful to have you here.
Jackie: Hey, thanks for inviting me. it makes a nice break from my usual Sunday, laundry and grocery shopping. So thank you for inviting me.
Jeff: Glad to give you a little something different to do on a Sunday afternoon.
Jeff: We’ve got fun stuff to talk about. Will and I have been talking about the “Farthingdale Ranch” series a little bit on the show with this new book coming out and we’ve noticed that for some reason, we were reading a lot of cowboy romance and then we kind of drifted away from cowboy romance. And this series is like, come on back to cowboy romance.
So you’re in actually book three in your “Farthingdale Ranch” series. Before we get into “The Ranch Hand And The Single Dad,” which recently came out, tell us a little bit about “Farthingdale Ranch” as a series.
Jackie: Well, it was an idea of mine that I wanted to do something different than time travel, but in book two of my time travel series “Love Across Time.” The book is called “Honey from the Lion” and in it, a guy visits a dude, ranch, to get away from his job like you do. And he hears this ghost story about Old Joe and his little red Fox. And in the morning, he’s ends up in 1891. My time travel novels, the time travel is not like a sci-fi thing it just, they happened to go back anyway, he falls in love with a guy named John Hinton. And when he comes forward in time, he realizes that John has died and that John is indeed Old Joe. So he has to go back in time to save Old Joe in the story of Old Joe and the little red Fox is then changed.
I have a reader. His name is Randall. He’s very passionate reader. I’m glad he’s one of mine. He reads a lot. And he says, what happens to the ranch if they’re no longer telling that story and what happens to them monetarily? And I was like, oh my gosh, I never even thought about it. So you have people who work on the ranch. It’s a million dollar business.
If you go to a good dude ranch, it’s $400 a night. I had no idea. So their bookings must’ve fallen off. It must have affected the people psychologically. And I thought, huh, I could write romances set in this while they recover from this person disappearing, Laurie disappears. It’s a cold case. So I could have cops coming to the ranch. I could have investigators coming. I can go all kinds of people.
So thanks to Randall. This seed was planted in my head and I thought I really do love cowboys, and I would have a lot of fun doing it. So that’s how basically the whole idea came around. It’s all Randall. I would give him credit for this.
Jeff: That’s amazing that you took the time travel novels and built out a contemporary series. Cause I’m guessing that time travel doesn’t really figure into this series at all.
Jackie: It doesn’t at all. Nobody time travels. The one thing is that I keep bringing up is nobody remembers the story of Old Joe, except for Bill who owns the ranch. Because in my mind, somebody has got to be in that universe. There’s like two parallel universes now. And the manager’s name is Leland. He says, Bill, you got to stop talking about it. Nobody remembers that story, but you and maybe one day, somebody else will show up at the ranch who also remembers the story. But I haven’t figured out how that’s going to happen yet.
And they keep saying, Bill you’re scaring the guests. When you go around talking like this, well, it was real. And he was here. Everybody remembers Laurie, cause he’s disappeared and maybe died and they don’t know,
Contemporary is what most readers enjoy and then you have, you know, the sub genres. And I thought, well, I can’t do billionaires and I don’t want to do bikers. Although there’s some great biker books out there. I thought Cowboys suits me and the kind of story that I like to write. So it was a really good match.
Jeff: And this is one of those things too, where you can play with so many tropes because the two guys you bring together, it can be for really anything, you know, as long as they show up on the ranch together,
Jackie: Right. As long as they’re there. And you’re one of your questions that you gave me, was it fun to come up with the titles?
So I’m going to say the answer is yes, I have a thousand sticky notes as everybody knows. And what I did was I took all the tasks on a ranch. You’ve got ranch hand, you got trail boss, you got foreman, you got groundskeeper. You know, we just went on and on about, there was about 30 of them. And then I listed all the sort of people that I would like to write about, drifters and ex cons and orphans and single dads. And I put those on another set and then I started moving the pieces around. So unlike all my other stories, which come from an idea that you get in the shower, while driving, those are the two places. I had the titles first.
So these titles are based on like… Barbara Cartland used to be a romance writer back in the seventies, 90 pages. It was like candy. And in my head, she was always writing the X and the X, right? “The Prince and the Show Girl.” Well, that’s actually Marilyn Monroe movie.
And I found out that only a very few are the blah, blah, blah, and the blah, blah, blah. “Love and the Marquis” is one, “The Prince and the Pekingese.” But most of them are “Saved by the Duke,” “The Earl in Peril,” “The Poor Governess.” I’m like, oh, I love those times. I thought I reinvented the wheel. But I didn’t. Lots of people do the X and the Y, because that gives you what it’s about. It’s about a ranch hand and a single dad or the foreman and the drifters.
So that was tons of fun. It was like three weeks of playing in a sandbox, moving sticky notes around. I didn’t have to write a word. And then of course I had to start the series. So that’s how that came about. It was tons of fun.
Then I told Angsty G was my cover artist. She did a brilliant job and she put together a bunch. And then I figured out which cover matched which title. Then I had come up with outlines and the story that’s when the real work begins.
Jeff: You got the fun stuff out of the way with the titles and the covers.
Jackie: Right? Yeah. Yeah. It was tons of fun.
Jeff: And then of course you get to play with the tropes because just because you’ve got a ranch hand in a single dad, single dad gives you a little bit of a tropey idea, but then there’s all this stuff to build off of it.
Jackie: Right. Right. Like how old is the child? What kind of child? Why is he a single dad? What kind of ranch hand is he? The thing I’ve been doing with my series is that in each book I bring up a bunch of characters and then I kind of asked my readers before I settled on the order. Who do you want to read about next?
So if you read book one, Clay gets mentioned, Clay’s in book three. He’s in all the books cause he’s like a ranch hand. He’s doing all this work. So doing it this way, made it easy to bring in other characters to remind readers, hey, there’s other books and there about this guy and that guy and, and people have been asking for Levi. Is Levi next?
And like, no, it’s the wrangler. And so Levi is going to be in books five. He’s the cook and the gangster is a very bad, bad boy. So that’s what that, one’s going to be fun to write. I think. They all are fun. I enjoy it very much.
Jeff: What was your process for creating the ranch itself, which actually would now go back to the other series since it cropped up in the time-travel series first.
Jackie: What I did was when I came up with the idea, oddly, I had an idea, I wanted them to be near a place called Iron Mountain, in “Honey From the Lion.” So he’s gonna go to some, do ranch by Iron Mountain because iron attracts metal. And when the meteor shower comes, the meteors are trying to get back to Iron Mountain and that’s when you can make your wish.
So I had it in my head. I put in the words, Iron Mountain. First I got the security document destroying company, right? They will destroy documents for you or store them. It’s called Iron Mountain. And there is a place called Iron Mountain in Wyoming. And I thought, huh, look at this. And right by it as a town called Farthing. And I thought, oh, I’ll call it Farthingdale Ranch.
And so it kind of has a juncture of two rivers. So I thought, well, I’ll put it between the rivers and it developed from the geography. There is no town in Farthing. There is railroad crossing and that’s it. In the sixties there used to be a real stop there. And I recently discovered there’s a ranch called Farthing Ranch, but it’s like a, a guy who raises cattle and it’s not a dude ranch of any kind.
So I was like, oh, I hope he doesn’t mind. I kind of borrowed his location. So that’s how that developed. And Farthingdale is actually a quarter acre of land. And it’s also a piece of clothing meant to shape the body in 1500’s. So, you know, it can mean anything you want it to at this point.
Jeff: How much did you have to learn about dude ranches?
Jackie: I have done a lot of research as anyone who reads my books will tell you, I almost have too much information by the time I start writing. But on YouTube, there’s a series called “Guest Ranches.” And I just started watching all these “Guest Ranches.” And then I looked up ranching jobs. If you want to work on a guest ranch, they have lists and descriptions of jobs that you do. So I’m like, okay, this is too much information. You don’t need to know this.
And I would just keep going. So the funniest part was looking up, dude ranges I might visit and then finding how much it was and realizing I couldn’t afford it. And I did a lot. It was just hours. You know, when you’re done for the end of the day, you turn on YouTube and you just sort of plunk around and see what you can find out.
And that’s, that’s pretty much how this happened. I don’t have any books on ranching because I figured they’re all out of date anyway by the time I’d get ahold of them. So it’s all online these days.
Jeff: It’s convenient. That’s the YouTube series though. Like, it was like, it was just built for you to do research off of.
Jackie: Yes, and they had their philosophies and the kind of experience that you’ll have while you’re there, and their concerns they’re talking about. You know, we want to make sure that our guests know that there are rattlesnakes on the edge of the property or whatever.
And I think they don’t actually mention that, but you can kind of hear them while we’re out on the edge of the wilderness we’re in Montana or Idaho. You know, we’re not near a city, so you’ll get a break from the city life. Well, that means bears and snakes to me. So, yeah. Yeah, it was good.
Jeff: Just in case you weren’t considering those things.
Jeff: What would you say is the most interesting thing you learned about your guest ranch or dude ranch research?
Jackie: I think the amount of money that they make, it’s a million dollar business. Here I’m thinking it’s like you go to a hotel depending on the hotel, 150, $200 or $70, if you go to a Super Eight or whatever. It’s $400, $500 a night. And you could do a package deal, but it’s still thousands and thousands of dollars. I had no idea. And then from there I started imagining the level of quality that would be given at Farthingdale Ranch.
Kind of like Disney. You go to Disney, everything’s clean. They got people working all night long. So I could have people doing 12 hour days. I could really make my ranch hand work. And then he wouldn’t have time to see his little single dad boyfriend. And that would cause a little tension between them. Why doesn’t everybody write ranch hand stories. I don’t know. It’s so much fun.
Jeff: And tell us about Clay & Austin from the “Ranch Hand and The Single Dad” what’s going on in this book?
Jackie: Well, Clay is been, a staple for the first two books, “The Foreman and the Drifter”, and “The Blacksmith and the Ex-Con,” because he’s a ranch hand, he’s everywhere all over the ranch and he is adorable. He’s about 5’10, he’s got dimples and blue eyes and he’s kind of on the sturdy side. Nice and juicy as I like to say. I mean, I have fell in love with him while I was writing it. And he goes to bars to have one night stands and he’s looking for love.
And he’s… it’s starting to sour. He’s tried dating various people on the ranch. He’s not thinking this through. He’s young enough to imagine that one night stands are going to find him true love. And I had Randall goes, for a moment reading the first chapter, I didn’t know if this was a Jackie North story, because normally it’s “The Waltons” meets “Brokeback Mountain” or “Little House” meets “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s not high steam.
And so I’m starting off with steam. Anyway, he gets into a fight at the bar because he’s young and vibrant. Now he’s got a black guy and a split lip, and boss Leland says you can’t be customer facing. I don’t want you with the customers. I don’t want them thinking this is that kind of place. So he says, my job for you is to go off and pick up the accountant that I’ve just hired.
Now, all this time Leland’s been doing the accounting. He’s been working 14 hour days. The ranch is doing better. So, Clay is like, oh, I don’t want to drive to pick up the accountant, but they instantly hit it off. They become very good friends. And that was something Wendy Rathbone and I talked about is how can I create this dynamic? She was just have them be friends. And pretty much Clay is the only person Austin knows on the ranch. And so he keeps seeking him out.
And Austin’s the nerdy accountant. He’s very pale, dark ginger hair and bad marriage. She was psychologically abusive to him and he’s just cut and run. He’s going to go up to Wyoming and make a clean start of it.
So it’s opposites attract, I think. But they have this common idea that life could be good if you let it. So that’s kind of what brings them together. They enjoy the same things. Very quiet. You know, Clay on the outside is whoo I’m going to go party, and on the inside, he’s very quiet. And so he meets his match in Austin.
So I think they were fun to write. They’re very romantic. Typically in any of my stories, there’s the dance that is held several times in the ranch week for the guests. So of course there’s a dance, but in this one, Clay can’t dance. So he and Austin go beyond the pines and they dance in the midst of the pine trees. And they can hear the music from a distance. They’re not on the dance floor cause Clay can’t dance.
You think, oh, heroes should be perfect. They should dance. They’re suave. They have tons of money. Not Clay. He thinks he’s good at a lot of things, but he can’t dance. He can shoot a rifle very far, but he’s afraid of snakes. So he’s a bundle of contradiction.
Jeff: A ranch hand. Who’s afraid of snakes. He might be in the wrong business. I don’t know.
Jackie: He almost got bit by a rattlesnake. And so he’s a little freaked out by that.
Jeff: And how does Austin’s child play into this?
Jackie: Well, Austin was married to Mona. Mona and Austin share custody. So she goes off to New Orleans while he’s at the ranch. He goes, well, you got to take her. I’ll just hand her over to Mrs. Delgado. And Bee, that’s the daughter, she’s about nine. She doesn’t like it at Mrs. Delgado’s. So he says, I will come and get you. He’s ready to give up his job because Bee is important to him and Mona was kind of controlling the visitation strings and all that.
So he gets her and of course she’s at the ranch. What does a nine year old girl want to do on a guest ranch? She wants to ride the horses and have cowboy boots and a hat. And so of course, everyone loves her because she’s adorable. So she really fits in very well. And then you’d have to read the story to find out, does she stay on the ranch? Does Mona come back and all that good stuff.
Jeff: I can see that being a lot of drama.
Jackie: Yes, it is a lot of drama. And Clay falls a little bit of right away because she appeals to his inter Dad. Right. He wants to be a daddy, wants to be responsible. He just didn’t even know it, till he met her
Jeff: What would you say your favorite scene to write in the book was?
Jackie: My favorite scene, I think is Austin’s secret hobby is to paint. He uses watercolor. He paints landscapes. He’s no good at people, he says. But one morning after the two of them go out to look at a view, Austin goes, oh, I need to find a view to paint and Clay says we’ll I’ll take you. He’s always volunteering. And they go out and paint and Clay imagines that Austin is only painting the view. The next morning he wakes up and the view includes a little picture of him. He’s sketched in, shadowy watercolor in the corner. And he knows it’s him because it’s got blonde hair and this hat that he was wearing, he goes, oh my God, he painted me.
So he sticks it up on his wall and, you know, and I just thought, wouldn’t that be the sweetest thing if someone painted you and they didn’t tell you in there, there’s this painting of you. So I think that was my favorite scene.
Jeff: That is super sweet.
Jackie: The whole book like this. And that’s how I write I was talking with Annabeth Albert recently and she says, don’t try and raise the steam just to raise the steam. You gotta be true to the kind of story that you write, which is long and emotionally satisfying and hopefully good characters. It’s not about, you know, the shimmy shimmy, sexy, fun times. It’s about the connection between the characters and things that you do for someone that you love or want to love, like the painting.
So that’s just the way it is, Jeff. It’s going to be sweet and you’re going to need insulin after you read one of my books.
Jeff: So, this is about halfway through the “Farthingdale” series. What’s still to come. What can you tease?
Jackie: Oh, I can tease I have three more books and the covers are already done, so that’s not holding me back. Just me. And the next one’s going to be the “Wrangler And The Orphan” and the wrangler is Brody Calhoun, who readers have already met.
Hopefully my books, you could read them as standalones. I’ve put in enough information. And that’s what reviewers are saying, oh, you don’t have to read the rest of them to read this one. And it’s going to be about how Brody rescues this kid. Right, because I’m all about the rescue trope and bringing them to the ranch, and what happens between them?
The book after that is book five it’s “Cook and the Gangster.” And the cook is established as kind of this, a little bit hoity toity from back east. But why is he here in Wyoming and who is the gangster? Well, the gangster is an old friend of his, and the gangsters got to get out! And comes to the ranch because hi, I found you and the cook is like, oh no, no, you can’t be here. So it’s friends to enemies to lovers, hopefully.
And the last one’s called the “Trail Boss and the Brat” because those were the two that fit together on the wall and the trail boss is Quint Mackay, who readers have already met. And if Jasper is grumpy with a heart of gold point is just grumpy. He will not put up with anybody’s messing around. He wants to do adventure trail rides. Right. Which is a little more, you know, three matches and a pile of salt and you kill your own food as you go. And Leland’s like, no, that’s too dangerous for guests. And Quint’s, like I think it would be moneymaker.
And they’ve been talking about it this whole time. All three books mentioned this. And so in book six, he’s going to get his chance. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong because you can’t take a breath on an adventure trail ride and expect things to turn out well. So the brat does not like to follow the rules.
Jeff: Of course not, cause if he did, he wouldn’t be the brat.
Jackie: Right. And there wouldn’t be a story. It would just be an adventure ride and then they come home.
Jeff: So, “Farthingdale,” as we’ve talked about a little bit, is vastly different than “Love Across Time.” And you actually made a box set of that last fall so now everybody can get those six books all in one bundle. Tell us more about ” Love Across Time.”
Jackie: Well, the idea was, I knew that readers liked series, so they can go from one book to the next. And I thought, oh, I’ll do a, time-travel gay romance because I loved this movie called “Somewhere in Time” with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve.
Jeff: Love it!
Jackie: Love it, right? And now that, oh, and the mechanism for time travel, isn’t like in science fiction where the machine or a pill that you take or something, it’s just, you step into a room, and you’re in another time and I thought this is a perfect fit for me because I love historicals. And I hope to do more with that someday. And I love time travel, because who doesn’t. So I thought, oh, I’ll write six of them. And I came up with loose concepts and it turns out that three of the books, “Honey, From The Lion”, “Ride The Whirlwind” and “Wild as a West Texas Wind” are related because Laurie who travels time travels, leaves two friends behind and they miss him very much. Well, it turns out they also travel back in time and they go to find Laurie because they realized what year it is and what they did was they received a letter via Western Union from Laurie saying, I’m fine.
And they’re like, what do you mean? He’s in the past, that’s impossible. And they both go and they find him. They managed to go back in time through some mechanism. It doesn’t matter. You step into a room. And those three are related, but the other three aren’t. And that was a little confusing. I could have planned that better, but all of them share the theme of finding true love across time.
And mostly they go back in the past, but in the first book and the last book, the old fashioned boy comes forward in time. Cause I want him to kind of tie it together. So that was a lot of fun to write because I got to do different eras and different research, tons and tons of time doing that. And the box set was fun to put together because I can give it to readers for one price and they can just read all the books in a row without stopping.
Jeff: It’s always scared me the idea of writing a time-travel book cause there’s always those rules you kind of have to pay attention to about not messing up the past and things like that. And yet I love “Somewhere in Time,” where that wasn’t really a consideration there, there was a lot of things that you just accept that it was kind of happening.
Jeff: What kind of rules did you put for yourself around the time travel?
Jackie: I wanted it to be based in something that had happened. So for example, there’s world war one, which is the first book. And when did the war start for US? When did the boys go over from this country to France? When was the war over? How was the battle, I guess it’s the big battle that happens in the middle of the war, along the trenches in France and Germany. How did that go? What was that like? So the cute guy from the present goes back and he has a very realistic experience. When he goes back at each of the food, he experiences the weather that I made myself stick to the facts as much as possible.
For example, “Wild as a West Texas Wind”, there’s Black Jack and his gang. It’s a real gang and they really did go to XYZ location to Rob a train. One of the guys used to be in the Hole in the Wall Gang, with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. So I made sure the year was right at that the time of year was for the right time to do that train robbing experience and that there was a hotel and all of these things are factual.
As far as the time travel aspect, I didn’t even think about it till Randall brought it up. Well, what are you going to do when you’ve changed this thing? And I’m like, well, I don’t know they’re just falling in love is all. So I didn’t have them like meet any famous characters. They don’t stop the Titanic from sinking, although that would be a fun story, nothing like that. I didn’t interact in any way in the bigger picture of history.
Although Laurie says at the end of “Honey,” we’re going to move to Trinidad, Colorado. And John’s like, why? Well, we’re going to start a hotel because nothing ever bad happens in Trinidad. There’s no floods, no fire raised the town. No huge sickness. They had a couple of train lines coming through. Pretty industrious town.
I even found, I wouldn’t call it a telephone book, but it was a directory of businesses from 1892. So I was able to name. The luncheon place that the character goes to for lunch is a real place that existed at the time. But as far as any paradox is the only one is that the ranch now doesn’t know the story of Old Joe.
Everything else is like “Somewhere in Time,” it just is. So just go back to 1891 or 1932 or 1914 and enjoy the story. The one thing I did do was in, “It’s for the Love of a Ghost.” He goes back in time, right to 1914 and lo and behold, there’s a newsboy named Stanley, who is the guy in book one that goes forward in time. He even mentioned it. When I wrote “Heroes for Ghosts”, he goes, oh yeah. I used to be a paper boy. And that stuck in my head the whole time. And I thought, well, if it’s 1914 and we’re in Harlan, then he would be a paper boy. So here he is, he’s got a cameo in book six. So that’s the other thing you can do with time travel, as you can take your characters and weave them together, Easter eggs. It’s totally fun to do.
Jeff: Do you imagine at some point that you might spin off more from that series in the same way that you did “Farthingdale,” did you leave yourself in the other obvious hooks there?
Jackie: Well, readers have wanted sequels. They want to know how they’re getting on. So these days what I do is I write up an epilogue and a bonus scene, right? So the sequels would be like bonus scenes. How are they doing a couple of years on? So that’s the only thing I would do with that. As for “Farthingdale,” I might do a 2.0. It’d be kind of like “The Love Boat” on the ranch. It wouldn’t involve people who work there unless you go to, what was it? Isaac ran the bar and Julie was the cruise director. They were like peripheral to the romance that’s happening. So I might do that because the ranch has so much potential, you know, there’s, you could have an accident in the barn or something. I don’t know.
Jeff: So let’s go back in your timeline. What got you started writing?
Jackie: Well, I was a very bad student in elementary school. I just didn’t pay attention. And in fourth grade, Mrs. Hart gave me the assignment, on the back of a “Reader’s Digest” you’re supposed to write a story about the image, which was two kids flying a kite, and then there’s a bear on the other side.
And my story was they lose the kite. They go into the woods to take it. They encounter the bear. It’s very scary. And then they run out and know better than to go in the woods. And she wrote, this is a great story. I love your ending. This is in red ink. Like they used to do back in the day. And I was like, oh my gosh, I’m a writer because somebody told me I was.
Then in I think it was seventh grade. I got a letter from a teacher from school. So I’m like, I opened it before my parents saw it cause I was terrified. And it says she has great creative writing ability and should be encouraged in this. And I’m like, okay, this is the second person that’s told me. I’m a good writer. I must be a writer.
And so I decided that’s what I was going to be because I was always making up things in my head and had no idea. It was like a skill that some people don’t have the storytelling ability. They can draw, or they can make music and this is mine. And so I just kept up with it over time. So since fourth grade, I figured I was a writer.
Jeff: That’s wonderful to have teachers who not only put A’s on your paper, but so much overtly kind of push the student to go forward and think about being a writer and tell the parents to encourage that. That’s wonderful.
Jackie: It is, and I met Mrs. Hart. I met her years and years later at a breakfast place. I’m like, oh my gosh, it’s Mrs.Hart. And I told her,. I was able to tell her how much that note meant to me., she goes, oh, that’s good. She was much older as was I, but yes, it is teachers like that are just worth their weight.
Jeff: And what drew you into writing romance?
Jackie: Well, that’s what I read. You know, you read what your older sisters read and they’re reading Barbara Cartland and Joanna Lindsay and LaVyrle Spencer. And you just read what they’re reading. One sister was reading Sci-fi. So I read a little bit of that and I kind of got into Star Trek that way and all that kind of stuff, but it was just, my family’s house was full of books. So I would be reading in math class and the teacher would write them a note. She’s reading in math class. She needs to stop. And my parents would go, at least she’s reading, you know, they weren’t really bothered by that.
So I did a lot of reading like my older sisters did probably way, way older than I should have been reading, you know, at a level where intimacy levels, steam, let’s say I was reading stream way before I should have been reading steam.
Jeff: What sent you down the path to write with LGBTQ characters in that romance?
Jackie: Well, one day. I was at a “Star Trek” convention and Leonard Nimoy was there. He was speaking, it was standing room only. We had snuck in the back. We didn’t pay, don’t tell anyone and someone in the crowd, you know, how they do, they asked, have you ever heard of K/S? And have you ever read any?
Now, back in the day way, a long time ago before the internet, if you had written a story about two characters in a romantic relationship, you would put their initials and then a slash between them. We called it slash. Today it’s called something else. The young kids have changed that to blend words. So for example, if you’re writing about Steve and Bucky from “Captain America,” it’s Stucky. So that’s changed. But back in the day it was K/S and it was slash.
And so as the question is asked everybody groans, it’s 2000 people standing, right? And “ohhhhh.” And I’m like, what is the problem? My sister goes Kirk and Spock are lovers in “K/S.” And I’m like, Of course they are because I had seen it. I had written like a “Star Trek” fan story, and I got on a date with Checkov, right? And that was my fantasy. And I drew a little drawing in at the other end of the table, Kirk and Spock are sitting together. So I knew even before I knew. Years I spent reading “K/S” and the “Blake Seven” and “Starsky and Hutch”.
And my friend reads “Wise Guys,” and to me it was just normal. That’s just the way it was. Men fall in love with men. It was so what big deal? Right. And so, as I worked in the professional industry, I was a tech writer for many years, I realized not everybody thought in the way that I did. So I kind of had to keep it on the down-low between me and all the other fans, which are luckily online now.
And I just became an ally and a supporter because to me, yeah, fall in love with who you want to. And also comparing “K/S” or any other male/male romance with het romance. The dynamic is different. If you have a man and a woman in a story, and people can argue with me about this, the dynamic is already predetermined.
Years of training and, you know, reading material. And when you get into a relationship story with two men, you can make the dynamic what you want to make it. You are not hemmed in by, you know, society’s expectations. If you make a woman, the rich one and the guy’s the poor one, you’re like, well, that just feels off. Not because it is just because that’s the way society does it. But if you do it in romance with two guys, which one needs to be the rich one and which one needs to be the poor one, and what do you want to do with that? It like frees you from having external expectations about how to write that story. And I feel very strongly about that.
My sister’s always going, you should write het romance. I’m like, you don’t get to tell me what to write. Nobody gets to tell you what to write, or who you love. And I feel very, very strongly. So years in the making, I think I started in the early 1990s.
That’s 30 years of believing this and my dad was in the Air Force and, you know, we lived on basis and there was just every kind of person from all over the world. So to me, it’s just more normal than I think it is for you go out into the real world, real in quotes, people don’t think like this all over the place, which is a shame. They will eventually.
Jeff: Hopefully. Who are some of the authors that inspire the stories that you write?
Jackie: Fan fiction started me on the road to being inspired as to what writing could be. The first fanfiction story I ever read was called “Vagabonds” by Delavan Ice. And she wrote about Kirk and Spock. I think it’s being stranded on a planet and she used words I had never heard of.
I had to go look them up and I’m like, oh my gosh, you can do this with a story. You can go to this depth because as you know, if you walk through the airport, you pick up the book and it’s just bland pedestrian. You know, it’s cookie cutter. It’s terrible. So that started me on the road to realizing you could do a lot more things with writing. If you go deep and you trust yourself to speak the words and to bring it to the surface.
So then as I’m reading m/m romance, because you’re supposed to read in your genre, I think the best book I have ever read is a book called “Over and Over Again” again by Cole McCade. And I have written Cole to let them know how much I love this story because it’s like 600 pages long. And it goes into depth about every curlicue of every piece of bread and lock of hair and you know, the scent of grass. And I’m like, oh, this is good.
Now I think a lot of readers don’t want to work that hard. You have to kind of work to read Cole’s book because it does go very deep and sometimes you just want to have fun. You know, you just want to have a fun story. That’s got a lot of, you know, that it’s high steam, as they say. And I love to read those myself they make a nice break from real life, but that is the book that inspires me the most to this day.
Jeff: What do you think the trademarks of your stories are for readers?
Jackie: Well, “Waltons” meets “Brokeback Mountain.” They’re long. They typically are very long. They tend to be emotionally satisfying, I hope, rather than exotic or erotica or high steam. Again, very fun. I go into the characters a lot. You’re going to get well-developed characters long, and it’s going to be a satisfying reading.
This is something Annabeth Albert told me when I was talking to her recently. She’s another author. I think she writes better than I do, but she writes the same kind of story. It’s about the characters and the growth that they go through. More literary style. And she’s the one who told me, well, it’s, don’t try and find readers that are one high steam go after readers who are already want what you write.
Don’t change, who you are to satisfy the market. There is always to-market writing, but the degree which you go towards that is up to you. Do you want to change yourself and turn yourself inside out? You know, I am not Kyleen Neuhold, I cannot write hot and steamy and fun all at the same time. That’s just not who I am and Kyleen can do it. And she does it really well. But I think what Annabeth Albert was saying is don’t be somebody else. Be who you are, write those long stories, write a satisfying character development, you know, and, and maybe they’ll kiss by chapter 103. That’s okay. That’s what readers expect from me by this time. So I’m just going to keep going.
Jeff: Is there a genre, a theme, a trope, something like that, that you have wanted to take a plunge on, but haven’t quite done it yet.
Jackie: I would like to write daddy/boy. I was talking, I don’t know, at some conference, someone said, oh no, that market’s saturated. You don’t want to write daddy/boy. Well, it’s really as hot as fire, even years later. And I thought, well, if I wrote one, it might be that, but maybe not. Maybe that’s just not for me either, but they’re fun to read. So if you enjoy something, you might as well write it. So I’m still thinking about that one. That would be the one.
I want to go back to historicals. I love writing, you know, in the old times, 1890 is a really good year because you have some technology like trains, but you don’t have electricity yet or phones. So you kind of take out the ease of communication and that can cause some drama or some angst. So that’s another one I’d like to, so daddy/boy and historicals. Maybe I ought to do both!
Jeff: Sure combine those. Why not?
Jackie: Why not?
Jeff: What’s something you’ve read recently that you would recommend to our listeners.
Jackie: What I really enjoyed, I am the beta reader for Wendy Rathbone and her omega series, especially is terrifically. Good. I don’t even know how many books she’s got now. I’d never read any alpha/omega stories before. I had read “Teen Wolf,” which has kind of the same themes. But those ones, I was like, this can’t be any good. I don’t think I’ll enjoy them, but it’s Wendy. So I’ve got to beta read for her, right? She’s my friend. And I was like, these are really good. The dynamic is interesting and the complications that arise from having a fated mate or from being with someone you don’t really like. Just all the regular romance stuff, couched in a world where it’s all omegas will shifters without shifting. And then the men have babies and I’m like, this can’t be any good, but it is. It’s super good. The whole omega series that Wendy did. I inhaled that thing.
Susi Hawke’s got a bunch as I understand. So I’m like, huh, maybe I ought to read those too because they’re so fun.
Jeff: Fantastic. What more can you share about what’s coming up for you next? We’ve talked a little bit about what’s coming up in “Farthingdale.” Is there anything else you can share?
Jackie: Well, I have a couple of projects that are still in the outlining stage. I’d like to write more rescue stories. So what happens in my time travel and on the ranch, you get rescued from a place that’s terrible. You don’t have shoes or you don’t have enough to eat or clean sheets or a hot shower.
If you’ve ever gone camping, Jeff, and you come back after week two, your own hot shower, it’s like a miracle. Isn’t it? You’re like, oh my gosh. And you’re so grateful for that hot shower and the sheets that are clean. These things that people take for granted. I know I do.
When I write about them, I become very aware of them. So I like to write about rescues and orphans and they don’t mean like three-year-old orphans. I mean, you know, 19 and 20 year old orphans who are disenfranchised from their world, they don’t have a family they’ve been abandoned or they’ve had to run away.
So I’m looking at a series for that. I don’t know who’s going to do the covers and isn’t that the funest part is to get those covers because I find them to be very inspirational. And I’m working with some great cover artists. Angsty G is the most recent one and who knows who’ll be next. I’ve got a big list.
And I might sit there and just come up with a titles like it did before, because that worked really well for me, because it helps me visualize. So orphans are coming, maybe some sequels and then who knows.
Next year is not quite planned as well as it ought to be. All the rest of the cool kid authors, they’re already planned all the way through next year. And like, some of these guys are super good and super fast and it’s hard to keep up. But as Annabeth said, do not compare yourself to other authors, right? We’re all together. And we’re all working to build our own careers and like, okay, thank you Annabeth
Jeff: She’s a wise one. She is.
Jackie: She sure is. She is sensable and her books like, oh, I liked this. I like her writing style. There’s a couple of other authors like her. A.M. Arthur is one I’ve heard about, but I haven’t ever read. So those that’s the direction I’m gonna go. I’m gonna read authors who write long satisfying stories with great characters. Rather than hot, sexy, steamy, because that’s just not my thing.
Jeff: And how can people keep up with you online to, get the news. on when these things do start to come out.
Jackie: Well, I have a website it’s www.jackienorth.com. And from there you can sign on my newsletter. You could follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub. I am not yet on TikTok because I am… You know, This interview with you, you make me feel very comfortable, but what do you film on TikTok, the book?
The cool kid authors are doing it, so I’m going to check it out. But I’ve also had the advice that you can have too many social media places you can do, you know, diversify yourself. So you wear your two fingers spread too thin. It’s like, Ooh, I like Instagram because it’s images. I don’t like Twitter because other political things come up at me when I’m there. So I’m like, oh, I don’t know. But you also get horses and Cowboys. So there’s a benefit there.
Jeff: Stick with the horses and the Cowboys.
Jackie: I think so, too.
Jeff: Well, Jackie, it has been so wonderful catching up with you. Best of success as “Farthingdale Ranch” continues and we look forward to see what’s coming up next.
Jackie: Great. Thank you.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. Don’t forget the show notes page also has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And thanks to Jackie for talking to us about the “Farthingdale Ranch” series. I loved so much hearing about the research that she did to get all this stuff about ranch life correct. All the jobs that happen on the ranch. And also the bit of a process that she went through to figure out how to do the pairings, like the ranch hand and the single dad and the other cool titles that she’s got in this series. It was a really an enjoyable conversation.
Will: All right, I think that’ll do over now. Coming up on Thursday in episode 327, we are back with another round of reviews, along with a look at some of the other books that are coming out in the last half of the month.
Jeff: We mentioned in the first episode this month that there were a ton of books at August. So we really had to split this up because there’s so much good stuff to talk about. You’re not going to want to miss it.
Will: Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, stay strong, be safe and above all else keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.