Lifelong Texans, James Reasoner and L.J. Washburn have been husband and wife, and professional writers, for more than thirty years. In that time, they have authored several hundred novels and short stories in numerous genres. They live in the small Texas town they grew up in.
James is best known for his westerns, historical novels, and war novels. He is also the author of two mystery novels that have achieved cult classic status: Texas Wind and Dust Devils. Writing under his own name and various pseudonyms, his novels have garnered praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as appearing on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. He recently won the Peacemaker Award for his novel Redemption, Kansas. His website is here.
Livia J. (L.J.) Washburn has been writing professionally for more tan 30 years. She received the Private Eye Writers of America Award and the American Mystery Award for the first Lucas Hallam mystery, Wild Night. Her short story “Panhandle Freight,” a Hallam story in The Traditional West anthology, was nominated for a Peacemaker Award. Her story “Charlie’s Pie” in the Wishing For a Cowboy anthology won the Peacemaker for short fiction. Her website is here.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Designing and building our first home from the foundation to the shingles. I drew the blueprints when I was 19. It took us a little over a year to build the house with help from family members. Sadly we lost that house to a wildfire caused by a neighbor burning brush.
My favorite author is my husband. James Reasoner has been on The New York Times bestselling list many times, but sadly since he is a ghost writer, most people will never know who he is.
Some other favorites are Rex Stout, Kim Harrison, and Leonard F. Meares, an Australian author who wrote hundreds of westerns under various pseudonyms.
There's almost nothing in common among those authors as far as genres go (although James has written mysteries, like Rex Stout, and westerns, like Len Meares), but they all created colorful, interesting characters and told fast-moving stories, and those are things I strive to do, as well.
If you could have a do-over life, what one thing would you do differently? What would you do again?
I would back up all my husband's and my manuscripts and family photos and leave copies elsewhere. When our home burned up in a wildfire, we lost everything.
Are you a planner, panster or both?
Both. I like to have the structure of the book figured out and in place before I start, but I want the freedom to veer off onto any interesting paths I come to. Just not too far off.
How do you research for your books?
I use the internet a lot, but we started writing before it existed so we have a pretty good research library of our own that we've assembled over the years.
If you had a million dollars to donate to any one charity, what would it be?
Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. Our youngest daughter was born with Klippel-Feil Syndrome, and we were both broke writers. They basically saved our little girl’s life with a new surgery that had never been done on a child as young as she was. And they took care of her until she was 18 with braces and yearly checkups without charging a penny. Then they gave her a scholarship to help with college.
Don’t give up your day job. Sadly, it’s very, very hard to make a living writing.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you?
After being just on the writing end of the business for so many years, since starting Prairie Rose Publications with Cheryl Pierson I've discovered how much I really enjoy the publishing end, too. I'm a bit of a frustrated artist, and I really love designing covers for our books. It's a lot of fun putting the various elements together and seeing how the finished product looks!
Find out more about Livia and her books here.