I wrote The Bounty Hunter’s Bride for one reason. I got an eyeful of Tom Hart, the cowboy on AMC’s Broken Trail, and I knew I wanted to do another western. The guy isn’t at all good looking. He’s not hero material in the sense of charm, but he had more grit than any hero I’d seen in ages. That mini-series reminded me why I love westerns. It also took me down memory lane with thoughts of my favorite cowboys, both fictional and in real life.
My favorite “real life” cowboy is my brother. The Bounty Hunter’s Bride is dedicated to him and I’m as proud as a peahen to be John Bylin’s sister. He has a Monday-through-Friday job, but on weekends he works cattle on a friend’s ranch. There’s a line in The Bounty Hunter’s Bride about quarter horses having big rumps and pretty faces. That’s from John. I’d have named one of the horses “Whiskey” after his favorite mare, but I went with “Ricochet” instead because it fit the story.
My favorite fictional cowboys come from television. At the top of the list is Ethan Cord from Guns of Paradise. The show ran from 1988-90 and I loved every episode. Who could resist a gunslinger with four adopted children? Add a lady banker and it’s the stuff of historical romance. There’s no doubt that show fed my imagination. If it ever comes out as a DVD boxed set, I’m buying it.
If you asked my husband and sons to name my favorite western song, they’d shout, “El Paso by Marty Robbins.” The song is almost fifty years old, but the story is timeless. A cowboy in love with a saloon girl gets shot and dies in her arms. I still choke up when I hear it, which is fairly often since I play music while I write.
One last favorite . . . I keep one book on my desk for inspiration. The story kept me up to all hours and when I put it down, I felt as if the characters were still breathing. It’s The Outsider by Penelope Williamson. Johnny Cain is a gunslinger rather than a true cowboy, but he’s one of my favorite heroes. Johnny wouldn’t have survived without Rachel Yoder, a heroine of true faith and honor. Maybe that the real reason I love westerns. At the heart of it, men and women stand side by side, fighting the same battles . . . and winning!
Vicki is giving away two autographed copies of THE BOUNTY HUNTER’S BRIDE! Watch for your name to be drawn from the comments.