Joining me today in The Loft is author Gayle M. Irwin. Gayle enjoys incorporating her passion for pet rescue and adoption into her stories. A former editor and reporter for the West Yellowstone News, Gayle has won three Wyoming Press Association awards for magazine writing. Now a freelance writer, as well as an author, she donates a percentage of her writing income, including book sales, to animal rescue and adoption organizations. Gayle's books range from children's stories to adult contemporary romance.
S: Welcome, Gayle! Thanks for joining me today!
Did you undergo any sort of educational or other preparation/training to become a writer?
G: Yes. I studied journalism, creative writing, and public relations while attending college. My first job upon graduating with my bachelor’s degree was as a reporter for newly-formed weekly newspaper in western Montana. I went on to become the reporter and editor for the West Yellowstone News in West Yellowstone, Montana – the western gateway into Yellowstone National Park. I covered topics such as endangered species, introduction of wolves into the park, tourism, and the usual community news, including police reports, council meetings, etc. I also became a freelance writer, creating short stories for various publications, work that I continue doing today. I enjoy sharing stories, for newspapers and magazines, as well as in book form. I don't enjoy ambulance chasing, arrest records, and court proceedings, and therefore, no longer work as a reporter or editor. I like the creative aspect of writing, sharing human interest stories and providing encouragement and inspiration. Those are a few of the reasons I became an author. As an adult, I’ve taken a few college classes on creative writing and I’ve attended several writing conferences, in person and online. I’ve certainly grown as a writer during the past 30-plus years!
S: (Laughs.) I spent a few years on the courts beat and then I became a lawyer!
Complete this sentence: "As a writer, my dream is to..."
G: ...inspire, educate, and entertain, and to do so as a full-time author and freelance writer. Whether writing stories for magazines, sharing uplifting stories for children, or entertaining adult readers with clean romance, my goal is to put smiles on people’s faces, encourage them to turn the page with engaging content, and inspire them in various ways.
S: Do you write in other genres?
G: I’ve written children’s pet books that weave life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, and friendship, as well as Christian devotions for dog-lovers. I believe animals can teach people amazing life and faith lessons. Therefore, I use my passion for pets as a catalyst for my book writing, including my romance books.
S: (Nods.) Children and pets. A perfect combination.
What is your favorite thing about writing romance?
G: I can relive my younger years and recall moments of romance, as well as envision romantic escapes that can and do happen. I enjoy creating various settings for romance, such as an evening meal, bistro-style, set up near a river with the moon and stars, and a few candles for light. That’s a scene I created for my book “Rescue Road.” I believe the outdoors creates opportunities for romance, whether walking hand-in-hand as snowflakes filter to the ground or a candlelight dinner on a patio. I like reminding people of the sweet and simple aspects of romance.
S: Have you ever experienced what you consider the perfect romantic evening? Can you describe it?
G: I traveled to Victoria, British Columbia with a boyfriend. We enjoyed a meal at the Empress Hotel in that lovely city. We dressed in evening attire, strolled through the grand hallways, and ate a most delicious meal, being waited on to the extent of being given wet towels to clean our hands after the meal. Then we strolled outside in the crisp autumn air along the bay that came in from the Pacific Ocean. That was nearly 30 years ago and an evening I’ll never forget.
S: That sounds lovely. A perfect romantic evening.
Why did you write "Finding Love at Compassion Ranch?" What was your inspiration?
G: "Finding Love at Compassion Ranch" is based upon a real animal sanctuary in Wyoming. I’ve visited that place, called Kindness Ranch, a few times, and I am so impressed with their mission and their results. I wanted to create a story about a place that provides second chances for animals so that they have a life filled with love, compassion, and freedom. Both Kindness Ranch, the real place, and Compassion Ranch, my fictionalized version, takes in animals that have been used in research, many of which are trapped in small cages for years. I wrote this book about second chances, for both the human characters and the animal characters, because many of us experience second chances, including adopted animals. The setting and the theme tie in nicely together and as author, I have the opportunity to subtly educate people on the importance of pet rescue and adoption.
S: Pet rescue and adoption is an important issue and it's great that you can bring attention to it with your writing. My nephew and brother work with a parrot rescue. They have gotten some rather interesting birds in there, but so far, nothing I can incorporate in my stories.
What about this story makes it special--to you? To readers?
G: For me, the story, which is part of a series I called Pet Rescue Romance, is set in a beautiful part of the world--The Yellowstone National Park. "Finding Love at Compassion Ranch" is set in the state in which I live, Wyoming. For readers, I think this book is special because it’s based on a real place and because many dream of or do experience a second chance at love, whether because a spouseor partner dies or we get dumped by our previous spouse or partner. Or perhaps, we left a relationship. Or we knew a certain person in school and many years later that person comes back into our life. We all need second chances now and then, and so do adoptable pets. I enjoy tying the two together--second chances for the people and second chances for the pets.
Here's the blurb for "Finding Love at Compassion Ranch"--
A ranch like no other …
Erin Christiansen is still adjusting to life as a widow. She seeks additional healing by volunteering at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Upon arrival at the majestic and unique northwestern Wyoming ranch, she meets Mike, a man she knew in high school, whose compassion for animals and people might be the balm Erin needs.
Retired veterinarian Mike Jacobs is no stranger to loss. Five years after the accidental death of his wife, he now serves as ranch manager of Compassion Ranch. He not only fixes fence and provides tours, but he applies his veterinary skills and his heart for animals to his work. Upon recognizing Erin from high school, he can barely believe his first love will spend a few weeks at the sanctuary.
Can Erin and Mike span the years since they have seen each other or do they, like many of the rescued animals, have wounds that run too deep to trust and love again?
S: Nothing like a second chance at love! Where can readers buy your book?
G: It's available at all major booksellers, including--
S: Gayle, thanks so much for joining me today! If you'd like to learn more about Gayle and her books, please visit--
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GayleMIrwin