I grew up in England on a diet of the Lone Ranger, Bronco and Gunsmoke plus a host of other Westerns. Like every other British kid, I found the whole idea of the Wild West romantic, so different from anything in my own experience, from the weather, to the scenery to the sheer size of the country. And, oh those gorgeous men.
It might even be one of the reasons I later moved to Canada!
When I was invited to submit a story to Brides of the West, a mail order bride anthology, I was immediately transported back to those youthful memories, although I must say I did hesitate, since I usually write regencies, the antithesis of the free and easy western.
But as my hero took shape in my head, I couldn’t resist finding him the very worst kind of bride. It occurred to me that a delicate-looking city-bred English girl all the way from Victorian London probably would be about as bad as it could get for a Texan with a ranch to run and two unruly boys to bring up.
And that would allow my heroine, Tess, to express some of the wonder I experienced when I traveled across the United States for the very first time.
In Snakeskin and Satin, Tess learns that there is a whole new lingo, (er…I mean I learned) even thought Americans are supposed to speak English. Cows are called steers, farms are called ranches, and ropes are lariats or lassoes and are used to great effect on the longhorn cattle. For some reason, these cattle are left to roam something called the range instead of keeping them in nice green fields with fences. The wide open spaces, the thorny mesquite and the heat of summer are completely foreign to Tess. There are some very dangerous creatures in Texas too, such as cougars and rattlesnakes, but are they worse than the choking smogs and overcrowded conditions of London’s slums? Ummm no.
Then there is this tall man with eyes the color of a wide-open sky, called a cowboy. There is nothing comparable where Tess comes from and he is so polite. The lack of available women is another source of wonder for a heroine who has never been sought after.
Brides of the West from Highland Press has three very different stories about mail order brides, and my fellow authors, Billie Warren Chai and Kimberly Ivey had just as much fun writing them as I did. So we are planning a follow up anthology sometime in 2009.
I will be spending a lot of time at Petticoats and Pistols learning all I can about Westerns and their writers from this fun and informative blog.
Tell me about your favorite western on tv and why, for the chance to win a copy of Brides of the West.
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