Maureen McKade

Maureen McKade
His Unexpected Wife

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
August 22, 2002

1. Who is Maureen McKade?

She is a happily married woman who's been married 19 years to an Air Force officer. As a child she read all the Roy Rogers books voraciously, then graduated to Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey paperbacks, and finally to western romance. She always believed she was born over a hundred years too late, though would hate to be without her computer and indoor plumbing, not to mention microwave popcorn and pizza delivery.

2. What inspired you to write the novel "His Unexpected Wife?"

This book was a sequel to "Mail Order Bride", with the little mute girl from that book becoming the outspoken, somewhat outrageous Annie in "His Unexpected Wife." As I wrote "Mail Order Bride" I kept in mind that I might like to write Annie and Laddie's story, so ended MOB with a bit of a teaser. Laddie grew up and became Colin and "His Unexpected Wife" was born.

3. How did you come about the title for "His Unexpected Wife"?

My working title on this book was "For Annie's Sake", but my editor didn't think it was catchy enough. Since books with the word "bride" in their titles sold quite well, we brainstormed bride titles. Then we find out that another title coming out from the same publisher that month already had bride in the title, so we had to go back to the drawing board. We went from bride to wife, then came up with "The Unexpected Wife", but figured "His Unexpected Wife" would be more appropriate. This is a typical case of titling books to make a larger splash in the romance market.

4. How did you come about the plot for "His Unexpected Wife"?

When I was trying to figure out how Annie would turn out, I started asking "what if?". I knew Annie would be outspoken and independent and would try to follow her dream, no matter what. Put her together with Colin, who had a rough childhood, becoming a man in his teens, and having to survive on his own for years. Colin wants security and doesn't want to take chances. What if Annie and Colin were thrown together for a length of time? What if they fought their attraction because their goals were so opposite? What if someone was after Colin, which put Annie into danger? How would they handle the situation?

5. How did you come about Annie and Colin characters?

I had to look back at their characters in "Mail Order Bride" and try to figure out what they'd be like 15 years down the road. I tried to imagine how their lives would mold their personalities and explain the goals each one had. Since Laddie/Colin was an orphan from a very poor family, I figured he would put security/money as his number one goal. Since he was also the last of his family, he would want to continue the name. For that he needed a wife, someone gentle and sweet; ie, someone who fit his preconceived notion of what a loyal wife should be like. In comes Annie who has made up for those months of not talking as a child in "Mail Order Bride" and who's a bit on the spoiled side. But her stepmother, Kate, has instilled in her a sense of independence and she also has inherited her father's stubbornness. Combine those two and you have Annie who is going to follow her dream no matter the consequences, and not let anyone stop her. However, she also carries the fear that she could die young as her mother did. Since Annie has too much to live for, she refuses to take the chance of marrying and having children. Thus, we have Colin and Annie with widely disparate goals who end up falling in love despite everything.

6. How did you come about Margaret's character?

Margaret was an interesting character. At first, I was going to make her a bit of a witch--a woman with her sights set on Colin no matter what. But I realized she'd be much more interesting, and human, if she thought she was doing what society demanded (a single woman is nobody without a man), but really yearned for something more. Her first husband was abusive, but she stuck to him because that's the way life was for a woman back then. By thinking she has to marry again even if she doesn't love the man, she slowly realizes she's falling into the same trap. Being around Annie makes her open her eyes--maybe women don't have to be so docile and accepting. Maybe Margaret should follow her own heart instead of doing the "acceptable" thing. Thus, she falls in love with the one person you'd least expect her to.

7. How did you come about Essie, Toby, Alexander and Percival characters?

I adore secondary characters. I want them to be eccentric, heartwarming, funny, and totally human. Percival was a typical actor for those days--somewhat avaricious, but loved to act. He also had a soft heart when it came to strays, ie Toby and Alexander. I don't think Percival saw himself as a father, but he actually was somewhat of a father figure to the oddly matched boy and the gentle giant. And Essie... She was my totally fun, off-the-wall character. I like her kind because she's not shy and says what she thinks, and her experiences aren't exactly the Mary Poppins' type. But in her own way, she cared for and protected those she loved, which was her extended family--the theater troupe.

8. Why did you choose the cities Denver, Reno and San Francisco for the characters adventures.

Denver was a logical place for Annie's father and stepmother to move to after the mines gave out in Orion. I tried to imagine what city a young woman who wanted to be an actress would go to back in those days. Since San Francisco was a cultural mecca in the west, it seemed logical to make that the goal city. And since there were also girls' schools there, it fit in with the plot. Reno was chosen because it was on the route between Denver and San Francisco, and it was a bit of a woolly town that would welcome a diversion like a theater production.

9. How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first manuscript in 1994 and sold it in 1995. I was very fortunate!

10. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

Quiet. I used to listen to music, but now find total silence works for me. We have two computers I use--one on the main floor and one in my writing room (which doesn't have internet capability). Sometimes I need a change of scenery so write on the computer in the living room, but have to resist the temptation to go surfing the web.

11. How many book have you written?

Seven--six western historical romances and one time travel under another pseudonym, Maura McKenzie.

12. Do write only romance novels?

That's all I've sold. I like to play around with other things, but not seriously.

13. How long did it take you to write "His Unexpected Wife"?

We were in the middle of a move from Colorado to North Dakota during the time I wrote this book so it took about eight months to write it.

13. What messages would you like readers to receive from reading "His Unexpected Wife?"

Don't look back on your life and say "what if". Look back and say, "I gave it my best shot."