Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Wonderful West, Then and Now

     I have a confession to make.  I love Cowboys.  I always have.  This infatuation could be due to hours of a misspent youth watching Rawhide and Bonanza.  Or perhaps it came about later, while researching the basic fantasies that form the backbone of most romance novels.  I was ecstatic to discover the 'Cowboy Fantasy' is alive and well with more people than just me.  As is the 'Marriage of Convenience' which I use a lot in my Western Historicals, along with the 'Wounded Hero on the Run'.  But I digress.
     The American West calls to me as a backdrop for my historical romance novels for a variety or reasons.  For one, I'm a west coast girl through and through.  My forefathers arrived on the west coast in the 1870's, and none of us who were born here since ever saw reason to leave.
     The land may have become more heavily populated in the last century and a half, but its general topography hasn't changed.  Mountains, coastlines, plains, rivers and forest are interspersed with huge tracts of raw land that remain untouched to this day.  I think about my ancestors who left Europe for the promise of a better life; the unknown of a new, young country.  I'm grateful to them for taking the chance.  Similar chances are taken by the strong, independent, and often impulsive heroines I write about.
     The American West in the last half of the nineteenth century offers my heroines a chance to assert that independence; like the newly widowed Callie in Callie's Honor, a woman alone, struggling to hang on to her home.  Hers is a Universal Theme that strikes a chord in many women today, following divorce or a death in the family.
     Those early days of my imagination strike me as a time when anything is possible.  Fortunes were made and lost on the gold fields or in the gambling halls.  Squatters' Rights made land free for the taking, a terrific opportunity for any hero or heroine prepared to work hard and follow their dreams.  The rules and government that dictated and often crippled society in other parts of the world didn't exist in the West.  At last not in my books.
     My characters have their own ideas of right and wrong, good versus evil, and deal with it on their terms.  It wasn't called the Wild West for nothing.   Life was about conquest, survival, persistence, the merging of people and cultures, and the forming of new communities.  All ideal situations for my hero and heroine to find each other, work through their conflicts and differences, and eventually live happily ever after.
     In Callie's Honor my hero, Rafe, sets out to avenge his brothers death, determined nothing will stop him. Not even the feisty widow whose land is conveniently located next door to the men responsible.  In Anora's Pride, my heroine Anora finds freedom in her tiny deception of being a married woman.  Her ruse only becomes inconvenient when a handsome new Marshall moves to town.  In Jesse's eyes, Anora being married means hands off, despite their instant attraction to each other.
     Deliver Me is a historical twist on one of my favorite movies, The Fugitive.  Maddy, my heroine, in a quest for adventure, joins forces with Jud, an accused murderer, going so far as to marry him in order to help him clear his name.  Grace's Folly is set in California's wine country (did I mention I love wine?) when that region was just being established.  Not quite the Wild West, but a locale with its own colorful history.  Three of my western historicals are about to be released in a box set called Western Weddings.  Three award-winning novels for the price of one.
     I love writing Historical romances.  It's a genre where the reader, by the simple act of picking up the book, instantly suspends disbelief.  She easily forget\s about her world and her woes in a tale where no one needs to empty the dishwasher or take out the trash, and adventure lies around every corner.  As an author, it's fun to carry her away to a time and place where anything could, and often did, happen.  The customs of the day and the manner of dress might be different from today's world, but people are still people.  They laugh, love, hurt and heal.  Celebrate and mourn. They live life large.  And in the untamed wildness of the settling of the west, they do it all on the broad, colorful canvas of my imagination.

5 comments:

  1. I love the West, too, although I've only been to the northwest corner of it, and I love western romances. It's like Regency Era England in that it's fascinating because it's so different from anything else.

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  2. I find even now such a different flavor and energy when I travel to the east coast, compared to where I live.

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  3. Living in Texas is still like living in cowboy country. I was at my house in the country Monday morning when a man in a pickup, pulling a horse trailer, drove up and parked over near the fence by the highway. He took the horse out of the trailer and started training it. The sun was barely over the horizon, and he's out there putting this horse through it paces. It's thrilling to watch. About once a year, this cowboy shows up to do this. For a couple of months, he'll train the horse every morning. When the session was finished, he loaded the horse back into the trailer and drove away.

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  4. How lucky you are to see that, Joan. Very cool.

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  5. I'm with you, Kathleen. I'm a long time fan of cowboys and western romance. Thanks for sharing!

    Hugs, Becky

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