We love the Wild West for all the style inspo it gives us — cozy plaid, gorgeous Western-style boots, and bandanas for every occasion — but there’s way more to this epic time period than what you can throw in your closet. Erin Bowman’s thrilling Retribution Rails lets you live vicariously through the era, no IRL lasso skills required. Bowman’s addictive adventure novel centers around Charlotte Vaughn, an aspiring journalist who’s on a mission to get her story, uncover some major secrets, and outsmart everyone around her — including her unexpected travel companion, Reece Murphy, a teen member of a notorious gang of bandits. It’s a companion novel to the equally irresistible Vengeance Road, and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

We caught up with Bowman to chat creativity, lady heroes, and more. Scroll on to learn more from this wildly creative author!

Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.

Erin Bowman: Outlaw chases redemption. Journalist chases story.

B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?

EB: I do my best writing in my home office. I pull up my writing playlists on Spotify (comprised of instrumental film scores and video game soundtracks), put on my Bose noise-canceling headphones, and get lost in the words. I prefer to write in the morning, but since becoming a mother I’ve learned to write at night, during nap-time, and whenever the nanny is here!

B+C: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for book research?

EB: This isn’t the strangest, but it’s the most impressive: While researching Vengeance Road, I flew to Arizona and hiked in the Superstition Mountains. In July. While five months pregnant. (It definitely gave me a lot of respect for the people who called this part of the country home before air conditioning.)

B+C: What’s your go-to cure for when you’re stuck in a creativity rut?

EB: Take a walk. Honestly, any type of break usually helps unstick me and get the creative juices flowing again, but walks are the quickest, easiest-to-sneak-in escape.

B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?

EB: While writing Retribution Rail, I specifically turned to Nellie Bly for inspiration. Charlotte, the aspiring female journalist in my story, idolizes Nellie Bly, and I poured over the details of Bly’s life to really tap into Charlotte’s mindset.

I’m currently reading What Happened, so Hillary Clinton has definitely been on my mind lately as well. There are so many strong, driven, inspirational women to look up to, but she has inspired me like no one else these past few years.

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It’s ok to fall.

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B+C: What’s your latest Instagram obsession?

EB: Momo’s Face (@momosface), which is an entire Instagram feed of a dog looking up at their owner. It’s adorable.

B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love + recognition?

EB: I read Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson earlier this year and it totally blew me away. It’s an unputdownable thriller and more people need to read it!

B+C: What’s next on your to-read pile?

EB: A stack of books that released this week (it’s 10/13 as I draft this) and just arrived in the mail: Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson, Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott, This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis, and John Green’s latest, Turtles All the Way Down. (I might have a book buying problem.)

B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?

EB: Only you can write/paint/photograph/create whatever project you’re currently working on. If someone else sat down to do it, they’d bring their own unique flare and the end result would be wildly different than yours. So embrace what makes you you and pour it into any creative project you touch.

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