Behind The Scenes

The Cowboy Meets His Match

When I was asked to be part of the Copper Mountain Rodeo series, I started thinking about the sort of story I'd like to tell. Sometimes I have an idea that's been sitting in the back of my brain waiting for me to pay some attention, other times I am starting from nothing and casting around for inspiration. With  Cowboy, I knew I wanted to have a heroine who was strong, and I had an picture in my head of what she might look like. I wasn't sure how she was going to interact with my rodeo cowboy yet, though. But I put those few ingredients in the pot and let them sit for a while. 

 And then along came Harvey Weinstein and the Me Too movement, and suddenly so many of the fun power plays of romance felt...difficult for me.  I suspected that feeling wouldn't last forever, and I'd like to think I'm a writer who has always been careful about consent and creating a sense of the meeting of equals between my characters, because that's the world I want to live in and that's the world I want to create, too. But with Me Too swirling around me, new revelations coming every day, I didn't want to write an alpha-male cowboy, full of cockiness and swagger. And I didn't want my heroine standing on the side lines, watching her man be daring. I wanted a heroine who pushed back when the world pushed her. 

So I started wondering if there were any events in rodeo that women contested on a professional level other than barrel racing, and I discovered that even though women were full participants in every aspect of rodeo one hundred years ago, somehow they got squeezed out of the dangerous, physical events. It might have been something to do with the advent of television, and more organised, corporate rodeos. There are reports of a couple of female bronc riders dying in the arena around the time that women were relegated to riding around looking pretty or barrel racing. And of course there were two world wars that monkeyed around with what was and what wasn't acceptable for a woman to do. 

So it seemed like my heroine was going to be a barrel racer - until I found Kaila Mussell, the only pro saddle bronc rider in the world, and I realised I'd found my heroine. Kaila is amazing, you can watch a profile on her here. Her matter of fact determination and stubbornness and toughness were all characteristics that helped inspire my heroine, CJ. And once I knew who CJ was, the rest flowed from there. 

There might be some people who are so sick of some of the recent ugliness in the real world that they don't want to read about a woman dealing with it in fiction. I understand and respect that. But I hope you'll come for a ride with CJ and Jesse, because she's an awesome heroine, and while there is some push back she has to deal with when she dares to compete in a man's world, she gets her happy ending, in more ways than one! 

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