Friday, January 24, 2014

Three Interview Questions You’re Not Expecting with the Loverly Z.A. Maxfield!

As you may or may not be aware, my longtime pal Z.A. Maxfield is hitting the road again with a new book. My Heartache Cowboy is the sequel to her popular mainstream release My Cowboy Heart. (If you haven't read it, it's classic ZAM. What are you waiting for?!)

I invited Z.A. to stop by and amuse the troops, and she turned the tables on me and dragged me into the interview room too!


Hi Josh! Thanks for having me over here chez vous today! A lot of people probably know this by now, but you’re actually the reason I established an Internet blog presence. (I’m sure people are lining up to send you thank you cards. NOT)

I joined LiveJournal to read those posts you used to write about writers, writing, and the work you were doing back then. You were right in the middle of Adrien English and just starting to explore the world of Romance… I think I came in right around the release of The Dark Horse, and of course that led me to read the book The Charioteer by Mary Renault.

I looked to you and other successful writers like you back then for book recommends, writing tips, moral support, and a shoulder to cry on and you have always been so generous. Not only with me, but with all the people in your sphere of influence. So thanks for everything you’ve done, I wish I could be as good a mentee as you’ve been at mentoring me, but hey…I can only do what I can do…

I guess you can’t blame the path for the people on it… *snorts*  

Today I thought I’d do an interview format, and see if you’ll answer too…  

Three Interview Questions You’re Not Expecting.  

Three Books On A Desert Island -- This is like Marry, Kill or Shag only with books. You’ve got nothing to do, you have nothing to burn, and you have no toilet paper. What you do have is three books from tenth grade English. Fahrenheit 451, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Separate Peace. Read, burn, er...utilize in another way. Go... 

ZAM - Are there no leaves on this island? Is there no driftwood? Must I??? Really, must I???? 

Okay, if I must, I’d have to say, it just seems fitting to burn Fahrenheit 451, doesn’t it? I’ve read it, and I enjoyed it, but it’s not going to keep me warm unless I burn it.  

A Tale of Two Cities? Yep. I’m keeping that one. Not because I love a Separate Peace any less, but because if I’m going to spend all my time crying on a desert island, I’m going to do it with a longer read. It will take more of my time to get through A Tale of Two Cities than to read A Separate Peace, but the outcome is going to be the same: red swollen eyes, sobbing and despair. But at least at the end of A Tale of Two Cities, it will be a noble kind of despair.

True, and somewhat funny/sad story. On my daughter’s 10th grade language arts syllabus, right on the top, the teacher put the 1 (800) number for the Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline. It was almost as if they took a look at books like A Separate Peace, A Tale of Two Cities, Of Mice and Men, The Brute, Medea, Frankenstein, and Antigone and thought, wait…


Josh? Do you want to play with those books, or do you want to spin the magic wheel of books and find three different books for your answer? 

Awww. I love A Separate Peace. I get choked up just thinking about it! I’m saving that. Anyway, I’m probably saving all of them because apparently I’m going to be dying of starvation and exposure quite soon anyway, so I’ll need something to take my mind off it. Reading and bracing sea baths. If I do break down, the first book I eat will be Fahrenheit 451, as I’ve always found it a lot to digest.


What will you bring for the coming cowboy apocalypse? Forget Zombies, the Cowboys are coming. Here’s what I’m bringing:

 Texas Caviar

1/2 onion finely diced

1/2 cup each finely diced red and green bell peppers

1 bunch green onions finely chopped (white part and some green)

1/2 bunch chopped parsley

1 basket cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 jalapeno peppers seeded and finely chopped (wear gloves, please)

1 T. fresh oregano chopped

3 T. minced garlic

2 cups vinaigrette

3 cans (15 ounce) black eyed peas rinsed and drained

1 can black beans

Combine all ingredients and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Serve with tortilla chips and lots of beer.

Funny/true story. My husband bought a bag of “UCLA corn chips” at Christmas. This did nothing to amuse my UCSC and UCI students, despite the fact that they were blue and gold, the correct colors for both my kids’ schools. Apparently they tasted, “Of betrayal.”

Josh, what are you bringing to the Cowboy Apocalypse?

 Oh man, I LOVE that Texas Caviar stuff. One reason I prefer zombies to cowboys is they don’t care about the hors d’oeuvres. MORE FOR ME.

Well, let’s see. You may be surprised to hear I spent several formative summers with cowboys. Elderly cowboys, yes, but cowboys nonetheless. So I am bringing what I know cowboys love. A twelve-pack of Coors beer (I know, I know!!) and the hottest freaking chili I can find.

I don’t eat chili though, so I will ask our readers to supply me with some good chili recipes. Anybody have a good chili recipe out there? Best chili recipe ever? Come on!  

And finally, which of your characters would survive a round of no-holds-barred dodgeball?

Out of all my characters, I think the winner would be Yamane from Drawn Together. Yamane’s tough. He’s resilient. I wrote him to be a true badass, deep down. I’m always likely to pick the little guy to win -- the underdog, the one who’s a little outmanned and outgunned but never outsmarted. That’s just how I like things, so naturally, I’m going to pick the most unlikely character and let him win it all.

Apologies to Samuel Colt, but fiction is the great equalizer. In my work, I have the opportunity to right all the world’s wrongs (as I see them) and settle old scores through the characters I create. So look out, ballers. Yamane is coming atcha.

 Josh? Which of your guys is the biggest badass.

Hmm. I was going to let Taylor MacAllister from the Dangerous Ground series take this one; he’s good at sports and is definitely a bad ass, but then I thought noooo, let’s let a REAL athlete at this one. So I’m choosing Mitchell Evans of Lone Star. Yeah, he’s a ballet dancer, and probably the only character I’ve created who can lift a grown woman over his head. He can leap six feet off the ground from a full stop, so I think he’s probably got this dodgeball thing nailed.

Thank you to Z.A. for stopping by -- and here's wishing her another bestseller!


  1. Somehow, I had never heard of A Separate Peace until now. I went and looked it up and it seems to be required reading for American schools, but from the synopsis I'm not sure I'd like it.

    Anyway - good luck with the book, ZAM! It's on my list (of things to read, of course).

    1. Here's why I continue to value ASP. Once upon a time it was pretty much the only introduction of the topic of homosexuality to American teens, and while the story doesn't end well, it evokes such grief and regret and sympathy I think it was (and maybe even is) useful.

      And of course it's beautifully written.

    2. I cried like a baby when I read A Separate Peace the first time. And then when my daughter had to read it, I made myself go through the whole thing again. Just beautiful.

  2. Thank you, Josh, for having ZAM back to visit. Hi, ZAM. Looking forward to your new release, and the cover is beautiful. Good luck with it.

    Re the three books mentioned: I never read Fahrenheit 451, only saw the film; A Tale of Two Cities I read in high school; A Separate Peace I read on my own when I was an undergraduate.

    As for a good chili recipe, my mother was from Texas and I always ate great chili, but I do not have her recipe unfortunately.

    Thanks, guys. An entertaining interview on both your parts! :-)

    1. Thanks, Susan!

      But I am grieved you are hoarding your secret Chili recipe!

    2. I'm not hoarding! I really don't have it. She always made it by "feel" and never wrote anything down, I promise! :)

    3. I could so easily drive you insane at this point. :-D But I choose to believe you. I trust you, Susan!

    4. I used to make chili with the Des Jardines chili mix, I remember the secret was beer and tomatillos if it helps. The tomatillos give it a little acidic bite that I miss if it's not there.

  3. Great interview! Especially the part about the island books and the recipe :-) And i tried to remember if we've ever read something uplifting in high school, but nothing even remotely optimistic comes to mind... hm. I have A Separate Peace on my TBR list, but i've been avoiding it; must find the right moment to be impressed and depressed. In the meantime, i'm looking forward to My Heartache Cowboy. :-)

    1. Hmm. I don't remember a lot of uplifting in high school either. There must have been some fun books, right?

    2. Thanks, KC. I'm pretty sure I didn't read anything optimistic except plays, like The Importance of Being Earnest and Harvey in high school.

  4. Good luck with the new book ZAM! I love this interview. I can totally see Ran as the badass and love that you picked Mitchell, Josh. Dancer dudes need respect. :) A Tale of Two Cities is one of my all time favorite heartbreak stories, but if you were stranded on a desert island, isn't that depressing enough? I say you don't read any of them. ;)

    1. HA! True enough. Burn them all in a bonfire to attract the attention of sea planes cruising for wreckage. ;-D

    2. Right Karen, Ballet is a VERY badass thing. Just take a look at a dancer's feet. Dnacers are athletes who endure pain that would break me on the first day! (I think ballroom dance should be an olympic event. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)

  5. My stand-by chili recipe for New Year's Eve (not for vegetarians or the faint-of-heart):

    Texas Road-Kill Chili


    1 pound pork loin, grilled and cut into bite-sized chunks
    1 pound stew beef, grilled and cut into bite-sized chunks
    1 pound cooked ham, cut into bite-sized chunks
    6 large fresh chorizo sausages, remove sausage meat from casings
    6 large Andouille sausages, grilled and sliced into medallions
    1 pound of thick-sliced bacon, pre-cooked and chopped
    2 large yellow or white onions, diced
    4 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
    1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to coat poblano peppers
    6 poblano peppers, grilled and chopped into bit-sized pieces.
    8 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, de-seeded and chopped
    3 15-ounce cans of black beans
    2 16-ounce containers of fresh salsa (mild, medium, or hot)
    1 2.5-ounce bottle of chili powder
    2 tablespoons dried ground cumin
    2 tablespoons adobo powder
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    3 bottles of beer
    8 10-ounce cans of Original Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
    2 large squares of unsweetened dark chocolate
    1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro leaves
    sea salt to taste
    freshly ground black pepper to taste


    Fry bacon in large skillet, let cool, chop and set aside. Clean, devein, and quarter poblano peppers, and coat with olive oil. Grill until tender, and set aside to cool. Cut peppers into bite-sized chunks and set aside.

    In a large stockpot, sauté garlic and onions in 1/8 cup of olive oil. When onions are tender and translucent, add loose sausage, separate into bite-sized pieces with spatula or cooking spoon, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off as much grease as you can. Add chopped pork and beef. When all of the meat is sufficiently browned, add ham, Andouille, bacon, black beans (thoroughly rinsed), salsa, 6 cans of Rotel tomatoes, chipotle peppers, beer, unsweetened chocolate, chili powder, cumin, adobo powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and simmer for at least an hour on low heat, stirring occasionally until all ingredients are heated thoroughly and well blended. If chili gets too dry during cooking, add one or more cans of Rotel tomatoes until you reach desired thickness. The longer your chili simmers, the more the flavors will blend.

    About 30 minutes before serving, stir in the poblano peppers and cilantro, and simmer some more to prevent chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

    Serve hot. Freezes well.

    1. Wow, David! How much chili does this make? It sounds delicious.

  6. Now THAT is a chili recipe. Someday when my boys are all home I'm going to make that! Thanks, David.

  7. What fun! Great interview from both of you. I loved the games. I have never read A Separate Peace, but Fahrenheit 451 has always been one of my favorite books.

    1. Thanks, Denise. I am pretty embarrassed I had to go back to tenth grade lit to find actual literary novels I've read. They're on my mind because I have tenth graders right now.

  8. Thank you for the interview, both of you. Reading it was extremely amusing, indeed. :-) Hmm, I'm one of those people who Josh has allured into reading Mary Renault's The Charioteer. And I'm forever grateful for that.

    I haven't read My Cowboy Heart and My Heartache Cowboy yet, but I soon will, I promise. Come to think of it... I've never read anything Josh has recommended that I didn't liked. *goes back reading #9 Dave Brandstetter book by Joseph Hansen* ;-)

    Take care, Z.A. And Congratulations on your new release! May it be a great success. :-)

    1. Thanks Johanna, I LOVED the Charioteer. That was such a tender, wise book.