A native New Yorker, Andrea Downing divides her time between the canyons of city streets and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and anything else western, is reflected in her award-winning western romances. She has twice been a finalist for the RONE Awards, winner of the Favorite Hero along with several Honorable Mentions in the Maple Leaf Awards, and winner of the Golden Quill for best novella for Dearest Darling. She currently resides on the East End of Long Island.
2020 Character Interview
Beverley: What’s your name?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: I’m Dr. Sydney Cantrell, and I’m featured in Andrea Downing’s book, Shot Through the Heart. The rancher I’ve been associated with, Shiloh Coltrane, has taken to calling me ‘Syd,’ which is fine as a term of endearment, but I do prefer others to keep in mind that I have studied the same as a man, been examined for my knowledge in medical school the same as any man, and am therefore entitled to the same respect as any other doctor.
Beverley: Where did you grow up?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: I grew up in Philadelphia. My parents are quite well-to-do, but they did not approve of my having a profession and I am therefore no longer in touch with them. I do think my mother may have continued to write to me but she is very much under the thumb of my father, sadly, so I no longer hear from her either.
Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: It is the turn of the 20th Century in Wyoming. I do return to Philadelphia briefly, however.
Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: As a young woman, I fell under the spell of a professor/doctor and his wife, who was also a doctor. They were guests in my parents’ home. They inspired me to study medicine as well, something of which my father did not approve. I was also enamoured of the professor so when his wife passed away, well…I think I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. I went on to Wyoming to start my medical career while the professor was in his year of mourning, but things didn’t work out quite the way either of us envisaged.
I guess Andrea has found my life interesting enough to write about it. After all, there are very few women doctors these days, sadly, and for someone with a background such as mine to pick herself up and move from Pennsylvania to Wyoming to work on an Indian reservation and in a small town is highly unusual.
Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: I have several goals I believe. First and foremost, I wish to be accepted as their doctor in this new community in which I live in Wyoming, not just by the saloon girls or the army laundresses but by everyone, men and women alike. Secondly, I need to sort out my feelings for rancher Shiloh Coltrane but also, I feel I need to stop him from his foolhardy and dangerous mission of seeking out his sister and nephew’s killers—this is something for the law, for a sheriff or a marshal. I know he has been a hired gun in the past, but I want him to put those days behind him and be the rancher he wants to be.
Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: I think I’ve let on here that I am engaged to one man and in love with another, so that is one conflict. Another is how do I make myself accepted as a doctor in this small community? And finally, how do I save Shiloh Coltrane from himself, from getting killed by going on a fool’s errand when it is really someone else’s job to find these dangerous men?
Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: No, I have no plan other than being the woman and doctor I am, and trying to make Shiloh see the right thing he should do. Other than that, I must let life play out as it will and take each step as it comes.
Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Dr. Sydney Cantrell: Not really, but thank you for asking. I think your readers must read the book to find out anything more about me, but thank you very much for having me here today and for taking the time to interview me. It has been greatly appreciated.
Blurb for For Shot Through the Heart:
Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane
has returned home to work the family's Wyoming ranch, only to find there's
still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers
are at large.
Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind.
When the two meet, it's an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what's right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?
Excerpt from Shot Through the Heart:
She crouched behind him, unable to stop the thought her patient’s physique was a prime example of why a female shouldn’t be a doctor, according to her last professor. Oh, yes—we wouldn’t be able to treat men without thinking of marriage. Ha! She shook her head to banish the thought, now supplanted by admiration for the curve of his buttocks, and stood up. Put on her professional tone. Looked into eyes the color of a storm-brewing sky and felt a rush of desire to run her hands though the shaggy blond hair.
Never. Never ever.
She breathed out, pulled herself back to the moment.
“You’re covered in glass.”
“What else is new?”
“Are you in pain?”
“Some. It can wait. Not enough to concern me.”
“You’re going to have to take off your pants and lie on your stomach so I can examine you.”
He didn’t take his eyes off her as he said, “Well then you’re going to have to help. My hands….” He held out his hands, palms up, for her to see.
She realized he was right but resented her own huff of annoyance as he lifted his arms away from his sides. She reached for the buckle on his gun belt first, her irritation with his smirk making her proceed faster than she might have, with less care.
“Did that hurt?”
“’Course it dang well hurt. I’ve got glass—”
“I can see you’re covered in glass, Mr.?” It suddenly struck her she’d been so stunned by her patient, she hadn’t even got his name.
“Coltrane. Shiloh Coltrane.”
She pulled herself together once more as she stood, disconcerted, her gaze avoiding his. “Perhaps you’d like to see the barber? This is something he can—”
“If I wanted a shave, I’d see the barber. What I want is…what I want is to get this dang glass out of my skin, my hands particularly. And the piece that’s sticking me in the…the…behind.”
“There are bits in your face as well.” She reached for his belt without another word and undid it, hanging the gun belt on the chair before reaching for his pants belt and pulling it free. That, too, landed on the chair.
“I know I’ve got bits in my face. Let’s just deal first with the hands and …and behind.”
“All right,” she said. “I’m not going to take your pants off for you. Let me see your hands.”
Once more, Shiloh held out both hands, palms up.
Flustered, she blurted, “Sit down.” She went to her bag and searched for the carbolic, gave it a shake before putting some on a cloth and wiped a pair of tweezers. She pulled a tin basin out of the bag as well. She pivoted back to him to find him still standing. “Sorry I forgot. You can’t sit, can you?”
“Not really. Am I causing you problems?”
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Twitter: @andidowning https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
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