Chasing Wild Horses Wild Horse Ranch Book 1 by Mila Nicks Genre: Contemporary Romance
A slow-burn romance between two outsiders from opposite worlds:
He’s the biggest outcast in town…
Chase Collins has never met a horse he didn’t like. Too bad he can’t say the same for people. In his hometown Lutton, his poor reputation follows him like a dark shadow. It’s best for everyone if he sticks to where he belongs. At least on Wild Horse Ranch, he’s safe from judgment. Then one day a familiar face from 10 years ago shows up out of the blue.
She’s a wanderer who comes and goes…
Samara Grant is a nomad at heart. She doesn’t like staying put for too long. But when her Grandma Bunny passes away, she has to put her carefree lifestyle on hold to handle her affairs. She might have spent childhood summers in Lutton, Texas, but it’s no place to live. She wants to get in and out as fast as possible. Little does she know life has other plans.
Together, they form an unbreakable bond…
After a series of near-death experiences, Samara decides to take back control of her life. She asks Chase to teach her how to ride. Neither expect to find common ground—and a fiery attraction—when Chase agrees. But their blossoming relationship isn’t celebrated by everyone. The closer Chase and Samara get, the more an unforseen enemy seeks to tear them apart...
The kiss kept him up at night. For hours he lay in his bed and stared up at the dark ceiling. He couldn’t close his eyes. The second he did the image of them flashed behind his lids. It replayed for him like a movie on a projector screen. Only that it felt too real; it had been real.
The sensations enveloped him. The earthy musk of rain hung in the air. The wet soil squelched under their boots, clumps of dirt now muddied. Raindrops clung to their skin and dampened their clothes until the soaked fabric weighed them down. His usually wooden exterior washed away as if an act by the rain itself. He wiped his face and blinked against the falling droplets, and there she was. Right in front of him with breathless curiosity.
He still couldn’t say what it was that came over him. His critical mind pressed pause. His heart thwacked against his rib cage at full speed. His eyes were wide and open for what felt like the first time. Hers were on his face, pools of deep brown that he got lost in. Before he knew what he was doing, he reached for her. His fingers clamped around her arm and they orbited each other. The pull was inevitable. Those full, dusky pink lips of hers begging to be kissed…
Mila Nicks is an emerging romance author on a mission to pen heartfelt love stories featuring women of color.
From the time she was a small girl with crayons and an overactive imagination, she’s had a passion for storytelling. In addition to receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she is presently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. She has also served her country in the United States Air Force.
When she isn’t penning uplifting love stories, you can find this imaginative writer traveling across the globe, sampling new cuisines, or spending quality time with her spunky pet Chihuahua, Zayden.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
It’s a long story, but I always knew I wanted to be an author. Even as a small girl, I remember rushing home to finish my homework so that I could spend the rest of the evening creating stories. I used to staple them into little books and give them away. But as I got older, I realized it wasn’t feasible to be an author. At least not if I wanted to make a decent living! It got put on the backburner for many years until finally last year, I decided I was going to jump in headfirst. I set a goal for myself that I would self-publish at least one novel by the end of the year. Fast forward another two months, I had finished the manuscript. Being an author is still very much a side gig for me right now, balancing author stuff with my main career and my master’s program.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I don’t like pizza. I don’t like spaghetti. A lot of people seem to consider this a cardinal sin, ha ha! :)
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
When I was 10-years-old I was attacked by a bat. To this day I’m terrified of them. It’s also funny because Batman is my favorite superhero, ha ha! I guess we have that phobia in common. But I’ll never forget when it happened. The bat got in through the kitchen window. Only my mom and I were home. Of course we both ran out the house screaming at the top of our lungs!
What are some of your pet peeves?
I’m big on manners. Lack of manners is definitely a pet peeve. Just basic stuff like not saying “thank you” or “excuse me”, holding doors when someone is right behind you, etc. That kind of stuff.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Southern California! I always say Los Angeles because non-SoCal people have never heard of the city otherwise, ha ha. I haven’t lived there since I was a teenager, but I’ll always be a Cali girl at heart! :)
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
The thing is, I don’t think I’d do anything differently. Maybe make sure I visit or call my mom, but otherwise I’d choose just being myself like any other day.
Who is your hero and why?
Definitely my mom. She has been through A LOT in her life, but has persevered every time. She is the definition of a strong woman.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I’m a pretty even-keeled type of person, so I’d probably be that way as a world ruler. Of course, it’s one of those scenarios you’ll never know for sure because it’ll never happen. ;)
What are you passionate about these days?
Being an author! It’s a constant on my mind. I’m always thinking and talking about author stuff these days. I’m sure it’s annoying to anyone around me, he he.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I’m big on TV. If I’m stressed, I will turn on one of my favorite shows and binge. It helps me turn my brain off for sure. I’m also the type of person who watches a bunch of different types of TV shows, and who can rewatch the same show a thousand times. Ask me how many times I’ve binged Brooklyn 99.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Imaginative woman with a laptop.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer/storyteller. I’ve been writing since I learned how. So many stories, so many words.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I always say it’s by genre (a favorite comedy, favorite romance, etc), but if I had to choose one overall…probably The Great Gatsby from 2013. I basically have that movie memorized I’ve watched it so many times. The novel is also my favorite.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I’m a very visual writer, so honestly, I can picture everything I write as a movie. I wrote my debut novel Love’s Recipe as if it were a chick flick you’d watch on Hallmark or Lifetime. Basically the same for Chasing Wild Horses.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
It seems obvious that I should say horse as I prepare to release Chasing Wild Horses. My other gut instinct is to say a dog, because…well…dogs are awesome.
What inspired you to write this book?
I can’t say any one thing inspired me. I draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. My book ideas come at random. It’s usually from something I see or hear in passing. At the time I first conceived the idea for Chasing Wild Horses, I was living in the U.K. I was driving down the English countryside and saw an estate with horses. It planted the seed in my head that I wanted to write a book about horses. All of the extra pieces fell into place as I sat down and started writing (I’m a total pantser).
What can we expect from you in the future?
I read a lot of romance. I watch a lot of romance. I want more stories with women of color. It’s easier now more than ever to find diverse romance thanks to indie publishing, but it’s still nowhere near the level it should be. WOC Romance are the stories I want to read and/or watch myself as a woman of color, so why not write it?
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Yes! If you’re familiar with Chasing Wild Horses, you’d know there’s a second love story embedded within the main plot. It’s funny because the main draw is supposed to be the romance between Chase and Samara in modern day, but I’d argue Bucky and Bunny’s love story is the foundation of the series itself. A novella going even more in depth about their love may or may not be on the horizon. :)
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Chasing Wild Horses?
Our heroine is Samara Grant. Our hero is Chase Collins. Both are different in a lot of ways. Samara is well-traveled, spirited and impulsive. She is basically a firecracker, ha ha. Chase is a lot more sullen, quiet and brooding. He stays in his head. He sticks with what he knows. But for as different as they are, they’re both very withdrawn people. Just in different ways. Chase withdraws by shutting down and being a loner. Samara withdraws by staying on the go and running away. It’s been so interesting exploring them as characters and how they fit together.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
The concept was as simple as passing horses on the motorway and deciding I wanted to write a romance centered around horseback riding. I’m a pantser, so sometimes I don’t know for sure the details of what I’m writing until I actually sit down and start. From there I fill in the blanks. It’s a little weird to try and explain, but it’s like once I have a setting or overall idea, the characters materialize on their own. That’s exactly what happened with Chasing Wild Horses. I realized I wanted to write about horses and a brooding rancher as the male protagonist came to me. Then I thought about what would make him tick? Why is he the way he is?
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Google is my trusty friend for names! Sometimes I start out with the exact name I know I want to use. Other times, like with Chasing Wild Horses, I google girl and/or boy names. It always feels like such a big choice picking names, because you want to like the name enough to write the name dozens of times. It’s a major part of the character you’re creating.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
My favorite thing about writing Chasing Wild Horses was getting the chance to tell a love story within a love story. I loved mirroring Bunny and Bucky with Chase and Samara, even though the couples are different. Bunny and Bucky are more of a forbidden love story due to the times they live in while with Chase and Samara, it’s a lot more of an enemies to lovers thing. I’d also say Bunny and Bucky were a quick to fall type of set up, whereas Chase and Samara are a slow burn. They’re both hardheaded and stuck in their ways. I loved contrasting both relationships and showing how they grew over time.
Another thing I enjoyed was exploring generational behavior. I often think about nature vs. nurture. Are we the way we are because of the environment we’re in or is that just who we are and there’s no changing that? Chase comes from a family that has a bad reputation around town and that translate to how he’s treated and how he views himself. Samara’s background is more traditionally stable, a middle-class family with the material things in life, but not necessarily any happier than Chase’s. Both Samara and Chase struggle with figuring out why they are who they are. Are they the hopeless outsiders they’ve always been, or is it more of a circumstantial thing that causes them to behave that way?
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
The female protagonist in Chasing Wild Horses is Samara Grant. She’s a woman I describe as feisty and headstrong. She will tell you exactly what is on her mind when it’s on her mind. She keeps her distance and intentionally comes and goes as her own defense mechanism. If she keeps herself detached from others then there’s no real way any one can hurt her. The past trauma she’s suffered drives her to stay on the move and forego any real deep connections to people. But while she can be viewed as selfish and stubborn, she’s also compassionate at her core. When she cares about someone, she cares about them very deeply, like her younger brother Jamari and grandmother Bunny. She doesn’t expect to like anything about living in Lutton, but the longer she stays, the more she begins to open herself up. I loved exploring how she evolved over the course of the book.
The male protagonist is Chase Collins. I think of Samara as a wild fire, she is loud and wild, difficult to tame. On the flipside, Chase is more like an artic blizzard. He’s cold and rough, very withdrawn and severe. He’s spent his entire life being treated like trash, always the underdog. When Chasing Wild Horses opens, he’s at the point where he doesn’t even give people a chance to judge him anymore. He operates off the assumption everyone is an enemy. He’s very predictable, sticking to what he knows. Like Samara, he’s doing a form of self-protection. The losses he’s suffered in the past have shaped him and turned him into even more of an outcast. He doesn’t mind being a loner, though. It’s easier if he’s by himself on Wild Horse Ranch because then at least he doesn’t have to worry about judgments. I loved writing Chase, because he’s SO hard on the outside while having a softness on the inside. Samara and Gramps bring that softer side out of him.
How did you come up with the title of your novel?
Titles are always difficult for me, especially because I try to think of titles that are one of a kind. The book was originally called Wild, Dark Horses, but I was never completely sold on it. I always knew this would be book 1 of 3, which made it that much more difficult to come up with cohesive titles for the books in the series. One night I sat down and brainstormed potential titles for the books. I came up with Chasing Wild Horses along with 2 other titles in the series that are cohesive. Plus, it also kind of worked out that my male protagonist was already named Chase. :)
Who designed your book covers?
My book cover was designed by the wonderful Wilette from Red Leaf Book Design. She is amazing!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
One thing I have learned as an author is that there’s always something you wish you had done differently with your book. It’s basically a given. I could write a whole list of things, but I also like to think what’s done is done. The book is written, it’s finished, and I’m happy with it.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
That’s one of my favorite parts about writing. For Love’s Recipe, I learned about cooking, running a restaurant, and even creole cuisine. With Chasing Wild Horses, it was all research on horses and ranches. I learned about the different types of horse training, different horse breeds, daily ranch activity, and so much more. It was really fun!
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I picture Chase Collins to have a very All-American, grisly man type of look. The actor immediately coming to mind is Chris Evans, ha ha. As for Samara Grant, the inspiration for her if you reference the character art on my website, is actually a model. But actress-wise, I could see KiKi Layne. She’s gorgeous and has a bit of spice to her just like I imagine Samara to be. :)
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I loved writing the horse rising scenes. They were so fun and high energy. I loved exploring that from both an amateur perspective in Samara and an expert perspective in Chase. BUT, probably my absolute favorite scene to write was probably Chase and Samara’s first kiss. The book is a slow burn, so as the author, even I was itching for these two to finally give into the chemistry they’re feeling. Their first kiss is a culmination of the tension between them from the first half of the book. I’m happy with how the scene turned out.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I don’t want to give too much away, but my mind immediately jumped to Gramps. He has stories for days. He loves playing board games and card games. He loves snacking on cookies and lemonade. We would definitely do a “game day”, which I feel like would be so much fun, ha ha.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
None of my characters are based off real people in Chasing Wild Horses. They are entirely figments of my overactive imagination.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
The characters without a doubt lead the way. I’m a pantser, so I go into my stories with nothing but a general idea of the story and the characters. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing with one key story element in mind, but then one of my characters decides to go in the exact opposite direction. It’s definitely one of the challenges of pantsing.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
If you enjoy a slow burn romance set on a ranch in a small town, then I think Chasing Wild Horses is for you. It’s definitely a great read for the summer time.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
I’m currently writing a paranormal romance that has not yet been published, but will be very soon. It’s coming this fall!
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
I feel like it’d be some light and airy. Maybe like cotton or flowers on a warm summer day.
What did you edit out of this book?
There is a whole subplot I had to take out, but I love the subplot so much it will be featured in book 2, Taming Wild Horses.
Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
So many I would love to ask! She passed away last year, but I would love to pick Toni Morrison’s brain on writing. She was so fascinating and witty, it would be amazing.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?
Fun, random fact about my books: each book mentions at least one Motown song. I do it as a small tribute to my father, who passed away when I was a teenager. He was a huge fan of Motown music (I am too), as well as a big book lover, so it’s my own little strange way of including something from him in my books. :)
What is your favorite book/who is your favorite author?
My absolute favorite book is The Great Gatsby. I’ve read that book so many times. I don’t have one favorite author, but there are many whose work I admire. Some include Toni Morrison, Beverly Jenkins, JK Rowling, James Patterson, and most recently, Alyssa Cole. Her Loyal League series is amazing.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve always loved storytelling for fun, but only in the past five years or so have I started taking it seriously.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I don’t do much research beforehand. I’m a pantser, so I usually love to dive into the story as soon as possible. I do research here and there as I write. Any major research I make notes of and sort out during the editing stage.
Do you see writing as a career?
In an ideal world, yes! I would love to one day become a full time author.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I’m definitely a big book lover. I try to switch it up and read different genres, but my favorite is probably historical romance.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I need music. The type of music depends on the story and scene I’m writing. For Chasing Wild Horses, I listened to a lot of alternative and country music, particularly from the 90’s. It really depends on the project what I’m listening to. Music helps me draw inspiration and adds to the mood/atmosphere when writing.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
At one any given time I have multiple projects going, but usually in different phases. I’ll have one book I’m writing, another I’m editing and a last book being promoted/published. It gives me a chance to hop between projects depending on the day, though it’s also hectic at times too. :)
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Probably The Great Gatsby.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Computer for sure!
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
One character I absolutely loved was Elle Burns from An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole. Elle stood out to me because she was so brilliantly written. She had her flaws like being impulsive and stubborn, but she was also strong, intelligent, compassionate and many other things. I just love complex female protagonists.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
Absolutely the right decision. I can’t pinpoint my desire to become an author to one thing other than that I love telling stories. It’s always been who I am no matter the age I am or the phase of life I’m in. What I write changes, but my desire to write will always be there. As an author, I feel so fortunate to be able to publish my books and entertain readers.
A day in the life of the author?
I’m a part-time author who juggles author duties with my main career and school, but on a day I’m able to devote 100% of my time to author stuff, I usually start off by checking my author email. After I sort through those, I move onto social media. I’m not big on social media, to be completely honest. I didn’t even have social media before becoming an indie author, but I still try to check mine daily. Once I’m through with that, I check any ads I’m running for my books to see how they’re performing. I usually don’t start writing until late morning. Most of the time I don’t get many words down, because I’m much more creative at night. I usually save the afternoon for any editing I need to do. At night, I write. I get down probably 80% of my writing between the hours of 7 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Advice they would give new authors?
Never compare yourself to others. Everyone’s author journey is different.
What makes a good story?
Great characters! Relatable, well written characters make or break the story.
What are they currently reading?
I’m currently reading Love Sucks by Cynthia St. Aubin
What is your writing process?
I tend to dive into my stories right away. I figure out the plot and characters as I go. It might sound terrifying to let the story/characters lead the way, but usually I find a groove by the end. For drafts two and three, I focus on tightening up the story and characters. Draft four is usually the copy edit. The last draft is the proofread.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Imposter syndrome for sure. I don’t know a writer who has not experienced imposter syndrome at some point, myself included.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Outlines! The quickest way for me to lose interest in a story is an overly detailed outline. There are so many stories I’ve started and stopped due to outlining.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I do try to keep readers in the back of my mind, but ultimately, I try to follow where the story leads me. I write the story that most interests me.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Stop being afraid to put yourself out there! I wasted so many years thinking an author career was out of reach
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Definitely expressing male emotion. Men typically express themselves differently. They usually process their feelings, particularly in terms of love and relationships, differently as well. I try to be as authentic as possible when writing from a male perspective.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the project. Love’s Recipe took me 3-4 weeks. Chasing Wild Horses took me 3 months. Sometimes the words just flow, but other times it can be like pulling teeth.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Writer’s block is a thing, but I feel like everyone experiences it differently. For some writers, all they need is a daylong break. Maybe some time reading. Others struggle for days or weeks, even months. Overcoming writer’s block is something you have to figure out for yourself. I’ve experienced a creative block that was solved by me changing my writing space. I’ve experienced a creative block that was not solved no matter how many writing exercises I tried. It really all depends because creativity in general is so fluid.
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