Greetings from Queensland, Australia!
My novels are set in the late nineteenth century Outback, when the area I write about was still quite newly settled. Imagine riding a hundred miles side-saddle, as my heroine does, through untamed bush with only a dusty track to follow. Then, when she finds that track won’t lead her to her destination, she joins a cattle drive through even more untamed bush. Perhaps it’s just as well the man in charge of the cattle persists in asking impertinent questions about why she’s travelling alone, and generally distracts her from the discomforts of droving life!
My background is a little different to most authors. I was raised on a large cattle station in central
Queensland and I grew up riding horses, rounding up cattle and playing cowboys on horseback. I’ve always been fascinated by the Wild West as well as
Australia’s own frontier history, which is every bit as wild if less well-known. Some of the incidents my characters experience, such as galloping through thick timber in an attempt to control half-wild cattle, drinking billy tea brewed on the campfire and sleeping beneath the stars in a bedroll (or swag as we call it), are things I have done myself. As they say, ‘write what you know’, and it certainly helps to have that first-hand knowledge. To handle cattle, Australian stockmen use different techniques from the American cowboys. One of the big differences is throwing and tying wild cattle rather than roping them. Perhaps this practice originated because roping is impracticable in heavily timbered country. To do this, the stockman will ride his horse up close to a fleeing cow or steer and lean over to grasp its tail. As he gallops past the animal, he pulls the tail and the beast is thrown off its feet. Then he has to dismount in a hurry and be upon the winded beast to tie its legs before it can regain its feet. A second method is to stay with the animal until it tires. The stockman dismounts and grasps the animal’s tail, waiting until it turns to charge him before pulling it off its feet.
As you can imagine, neither method is for the faint-hearted or the unskilled! In my second novel, A Hidden Legacy, the hero throws a young bull in this manner, with disastrous consequences. My two books, The Cornstalk and A Hidden Legacy, are available from Wings ePress and Amazon.Heather is giving away an autographed copy of The Cornstalk to one lucky reader who posts here this weekend!