The west calls to me and always has, even before I became a writer. (Probably my Native American blood.) My career was born standing on the parade ground at Ft. Laramie, Wyoming. I’d gone there as part of the grieving process when my brother Randy was killed in a freak lightning accident. He adored Wyoming and I wanted to catch a glimpse of him through the land he loved. The idea for Where Leads the Heart, dropped into my head and became my first book, published in 1998.
I like to visit a setting before I write about it, so when I settled on the Big Bend area of Texas for the first book in the Lonestar series, Lonestar Sanctuary, I scheduled a trip there. Dave and I flew into El Paso, rented a car, then drove for what seemed like forever.
I expected the cactus, the sand, the blue mountains in the distance, the sage, the Rio Grande, the heat, and the Big Sky Country. What I didn’t expect nearly made me turn tail and run.
I hate spiders. The first black thing crawling across the road didn’t get my attention. If I noticed at all, I thought it was a black rock. Then my husband said, “I think that’s a tarantula.” He got out of the car to look while I was screaming at him to get back inside in case the thing jumped on his leg. Or what if it managed to get inside the car somehow? He took a picture that I couldn’t bear to see, got back inside, then continued to drive. We saw at least a dozen more before we reached Big Bend National Park.
If it weren’t for the fact that the place was so doggone beautiful, I would have changed the setting. Did you know it’s one of the least visited national parks? That’s because it takes several hours to drive there from an airport, but it is gorgeous! It calls to something in my soul-in spite of the tarantulas. And no, you don’t have to worry about a tarantula chase in Lonestar Sanctuary. I wouldn’t survive the experience of writing it!
The Big Bend area is sometimes called the devil’s playground. The devil is supposed to be sealed up in a cave on the south bank of the Río Bravo del Norte (known on the U.S. side as the Rio Grande), except when he escapes on a swing hung between nearby mountains. Its stark beauty can be dangerous. There is no room for mistakes out there.
We all have reasons we love stories about the West. Here are mine below.
Men and women both are more independent and strong-and yet they know they need one another. The people know about resiliency and survival.
The West calls out the best in people. You HAVE to be on your toes because the land can kill you. When I read western fiction, it makes me believe I AM that strong and capable. :-)
I see God in the beautiful landscape and it speaks to my soul.
Why do you love western stories? I’m going to give away two copies of Lonestar Sanctuary so make sure you comment!
And visit me on my website if you get a chance: www.colleencoble.com
And watch for my Lonestar Secrets coming soon!