I remember when I wrote my first "cowboy" book. Immediately I became intrigued by the type of man who would own or work in 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 wrote to guest ranches in Montana and Wyoming, hoping to find a genuine source for research. One wrote back and we had many phone conversations about running cattle and the requirements for keeping a ranch running smoothly. She invited me for a visit and a few years later Wyoming and Montana became my research destinations. I will never forget my visit to that ranch. We road in her pick-up truck, driving over pastures and gullies, glimpsing antelope and jackrabbits, finding Teepee rings from so long ago. On that same trip my husband and I drove through Wyoming and spent several days watching 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 three wild horses standing on a peak staring down at us. No words can describe it.
For me, ALWAYS A COWBOY, set in Wyoming, is the epitome of a ranch book. My hero, once a doctor, has a tragedy in his life and needs to escape memories and emotions he doesn't want to feel. Because of his upbringing on a ranch, he heads to the West, searching for something he's lost. Zack finds it on The Rising Star Ranch where family is as important as waking up each morning. On a rocky journey to love with Lucy, a rancher's daughter, he finds meaning and fulfillment once more.
I put everything I feel about the pioneer spirit of living in the West in ALWAYS A COWBOY, as well as everything I feel about the meaning of family. I hope that shines through to my readers.