Monday, January 2, 2012

Writing About The West With Feeling

I remember when I wrote my first "cowboy" book. Immediately I became intrgued by the type of man who would own or work on a ranch--an independent, free-thinking man of integrity who valued the land and animals and his care of both. I've never lived on a ranch but I had memories to draw from.  All through my childhood, I had access to a relative's farm. My cousin and I would play on and around the hay bales, hold and chase newborn kittens, and stand in awe watching the horses run in the pasture. I recall a foal named Muley and a white bull with a ring in his nose. Watching a calf come into this world was exciting, scary, and memorable.

The west has always called to me. When I wrote that first ranch book, I also wrote to guest ranches in Montana and Wyoming, hoping to find a genuine source for research. One ranch owner corresponded with me and we had many phone conversationa about running cattle and the requirements for keeping a ranch operating smoothly. She invited me for a visit and a few years later Wyoming and Montana became my reserach destinations. I wll never forget my visit to that ranch. We road in her pick-up truck, driving through  pastures and over gullies, glimpsing antelope and jackrabbits, finding Teepee rings from so long ago. This was a family ranch and we learned the part everyone in the family played in making their life there a success. On that same trip, my husband and I drove through Wyoming and spent several days watching and photographing the wild horses in The Big Horns. Research took on an entirely new meaning as we caught the scent of sage, trekked through brush and spotted wild horses standing on a peak staring down at us. No words could describe it.

For me, ALWAYS HER COWBOY as well as CASSIDY'S COWBOY--both set in Wyoming--are the epitome of ranch books. I put everything I feel about the pioneer spirit of living in the West in both books, as well as everything I feel about the meaning of family. I hope that shines through to my readers. The West can be a universe of its own. A ranch can be a world of its own, a world where love can find a true home.