E.E. Burke's Best of the West: Featuring Lori Austin

I’m continuing my Best of the West interviews today with two-time RITA winner and NYT Best Selling author Lori Handeland, who writes Western historical romance under the pen name Lori Austin.

I knew I'd found a soulmate when I discovered that Lori (like me) adores the TV series Hell On Wheels, and admits to a “major crush” on Anson Mount. 

She's written many Western romances (in addition to the many paranormal, suspense and contemporary books she's penned). My latest favorite Western romances are the three books in her series, Once Upon a Time in the West. Here’s a blurb from the third book, The Lone Warrior

Rose Varner needs a man…
But not just any man. The one known as “White Ghost with Hair of Fire.” He may be the only way to rescue her daughter, Lily, from the Cheyenne. Legend has it he was once the Cheyenne’s captive, but his courage impressed them so much that they accepted him as one of their own. Yet the man Rose finds seems far from legendary…

Luke Phelan’s tortured past has driven him to live as a recluse in the Smoky Hills of western Kansas. Having vowed to keep his distance from the Cheyenne, Luke refuses to accompany Rose on her rescue mission. But her bravery in the face of dangerous odds changes his mind. Now as they ride toward their destination, they’ll battle outlaws, bounty hunters, and their own rising desires before finding Lily. But the cost to Rose will be high, and her budding love for Luke will be put to the test…
Click here to read an excerpt.

Meet Lori
Lori Handeland is a two time RITA Award winner and the New York Times Bestselling author of the paranormal romance series, The Nightcreature Novels, as well as the urban fantasy series, The Phoenix Chronicles and the historical fantasy series, Shakespeare Undead. She also writes western historical romance under the name Lori Austin. Lori lives in Wisconsin with her husband, enjoying occasional visits from her grown sons.

E.E. You’re best known for paranormal and fantasy, so why Westerns?

Who wouldn't crush on this guy?
Lori: I've always adored westerns--books, shows, movies.  I'm a devoted Hell on Wheels fan.  Major crush on Anson Mount. I started my career with a western historical romance, Second Chance.  And while the genre has died several times, I kept trying to revive it: The Rock Creek Six and recently my Once Upon a Time in the West trilogy.

E.E. What other writer in the genre has influenced you most?

Lori: Maggie Osborne wrote fantastic, angsty, perfect westerns. I read them all several times. When I wrote the proposal for the first book in my new trilogy, Beauty and the Bounty Hunter, I read several of her books again. The odd (COOL) thing is the book sold to Maggie's editor. I didn't realize this until when we had our first conversation and the editor said my writing reminded her of Maggie's.  Made me cry.

E.E. What’s the first book you remember reading?  

Lori: The first one I remember reading myself is Julia of the Wolves. Maybe that explains the whole werewolf fascination!  I never thought of that. I remember pretending to be Julie out alone in the wilderness. That might also explain my lifelong aversion to camping.

E.E. Where do you read and how often?

Lori: I read daily, sitting in the corner of my sofa--usually during the commercials of whatever sports event is playing on the TV in the evening.  DVR has seriously cut into my reading time. 

E.E. What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Best of the West
Lori: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It's got all my favorite things--western setting, action, humor, great dialogue and pretty men.

E.E. What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?

Lori: I started out writing western historical romance, moved to romantic suspense, contemporary paranormal, historical paranormal, over to contemporary series--short and long--back to westerns several times, then to contemporary paranormal again, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, westerns! 

Well, you get the idea.  It might have something to do with my short attention span. Don't ever show me anything shiny or point out a squirrel. 

But basically, I'll read something that intrigues me or see a movie or watch a show and bam, I've got an idea. I'm off, like a downhill racer. Don't get in the way!

E.E. Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?

Lori: No. I need total silence. I wish I didn't, because that means every noise is a distraction. (See previous question)

E.E. What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?

Lori: Head for the champagne.

E.E. Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

Lori: I do not read reviews. If I did I would no longer be writing. I have enough voices in my head as it is.

E.E. What’s your favorite kid joke?

Lori: What's the difference between a duck?
One leg is both the same.
I have no idea what this means or why it strikes me as hysterical, but there you go….

(E.E. commentary: I like your sense of humor. Just don’t ask me why fire engines are red…)

Gotta ask: What is your biggest vice?

Gotta answer: Coffee--there must be coffee immediately upon waking or there will be no getting out of bed, or at least no getting out of bed without a lot of whining.  Until there is coffee.

Where to find Lori






Western Historical Romance w/a Lori Austin from Signet Eclipse

e-book only-

Lori will be giving away 5 copies of BEAUTY AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER--which is the first book in the trilogy and a RITA finalist last year.

Leave a comment and enter to win:

Do you have a favorite western book, movie or show? What is it? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love all of the old John Wayne movies. He starred in 2 of my favorites - THE SEARCHERS & THE COWBOYS.


    1. Two of my faves as well, Mary! Also True Grit, Rooster Cogburn and the Three Godfathers.

  2. I watched so many of the old TV shows....Bonanza, Wild Wild West, The Rifleman, and Wagon Train to name a few. I enjoyed them all. Some of my favorite movies were McClintock with John Wayne, Cat Ballou,, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and Blazing Saddles. Congrats on your book.

    1. Thanks, Brenda!! I loved the Wild, Wild West TV show too. Action, adventure, humor!! Sign me up!

  3. Wild wild west, hands down. Love the action and the suspence of what will happen next! And that's the best vice ever! Need coffee every morning too! :)

    1. I have two coffee pots. Keurig, to get that first cup fast while the whole pot brews. And there's my dirty secret for today!

  4. Lori, thanks for joining us today! I loved reading your post and totally agree with you. Butch and Sundance played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, awesome classic. What's not to love? You know my favorite show. HELL ON WHEELS! It has everything--fabulous setting, tortured characters, lots of twists and turns. I love your Once Upon a Time series for all the same reasons and I've been looking forward to telling all our readers about it.

    1. I appreciate your having me today! Thanks! I'm so glad you've enjoyed the books.

  5. I really enjoy Hell on Wheels. I started watching the show after reading my favorite western novel Her Bodyguard by Elisabeth Burke. I hadn't thought much about westerns before I found her novel and now I just love them!!

    1. Thank you, Heather. I'm thrilled to hear I "converted" a reader and a HOW fan! Couldn't ask for higher praise. Now that you like Westerns, check out Lori's books. Beauty and the Bounty Hunter was quite deservedly a RITA finalist. She's an amazing writer. I love her stories and I'm sure you will, too.

    2. A HOW/western romance convert! Gotta love it. Go, EE! And thank you for the recommendations.

  6. Welcome to Get Lost in a Story, Lori, I was wowed by your werewolf stories, so I know I'll adore your westerns. Question for you if I may be so bold. With the well known name of Lori Handeland, why use a pseudonym> Thanks for being our guest today!

    1. Thanks, Donnell Ann! I appreciate that.

      As for the pseudonym . . . it was because of the paranormals that the publisher wanted to go in a different direction on the name. However, the books are similar in tone--both humorous and a bit dark. They're still me. Can't really help myself.

  7. I loved Little House on the Prairie as a child

    1. I must have read all those books a dozen times or more.

  8. I can't think of a favorite Western book, I've read quite a few lovely stories. My favorite Western show was Briscoe County Jr. (loved Wild Wild West too). My favorite Western movie is Silverado.

    1. Silverado is a great one. Haven't seen Briscoe County.

  9. I love comedy, so I adored F-Troop. :D

    Marcy Shuler