Petticoats and pistols, cowboys and outlaws, wow! I must be in heaven. Where Frontierland meets Indian Country. Or, as my brother-in-law says, “Where the grass is tall and the corn don’t grow.” Just walked in and already I feel right at home with you gals.
I was about to claim that my heroes have always been cowboys, and here comes my younger son, mocking me with his t-shirt. Armed and dangerous. That’s his trusty Red Rider BB gun—and, yes, I opposed that Christmas gift for years, but his dad went behind my back one year, claiming that if Red Rider had a rifle, it was about time Little Beaver got one, too. As far as I know our Eaglet never took out any eyes. He did kill a rabbit in the back yard once, but that was—no kidding—with his bow and arrow.
A bit of background: I’m the Southern Belle and the New England school marm rolled up in one and gone West. I was born in Virginia, raised as an Air Force brat, graduated from a Massachusetts women’s college in 1970 when we Boomers were going to save the world. In the summer of 1969, I chose a South Dakota Indian reservation for a summer of do-gooding. On the first day I fell in love with the land. The High Plains is such a powerful landscape—enormous sky and endless grass—that you either make your peace with its authority or you hightail it home. On the second day I fell in love with the people, who knew exactly how smart I thought I was and still gave me the benefit of the doubt. At the end of that second day I clapped eyes on an Indian cowboy named Clyde Eagle. He was wearing jeans, boots, a cowboy hat, a red Western-style shirt, and he was actually breaking a horse. I had crossed the Rubicon—well, the Missouri—and there was no turning back. I had one more year of college, but my mind and my heart were set.
This was a romance that really began many years before that fateful day. I lived in Idaho from age 6 through 8, and no matter where we moved, I wanted to go back out West. Remember “My Baby Loves the Western Movies”? That was yours truly. We Boomers grew up on Roy Rogers, Wild Bill, the Cartwrights, Maverick, Paladin—oh, the manhood! Some of my earliest fiction featured Little Joe Cartwright and his adopted sister, Kathy. But here’s the funny part: Deep in the heart of Indian Country, my soul mate was growing up in awe of the very same heroes. When little Clyde went to a movie with his brothers they cheered for the cowboys and hid under the seats when the Hollywood Indians appeared on the horizon. To this day my hubby enjoys the old movies on TV. He’ll tolerate the stereotypes for the sound of a gunfight or a stampede on a Saturday afternoon.
So here we are, doing the gambler and the saloon girl in Deadwood after maybe ten years of marriage and taking a train ride in a vintage dining car on our 25th anniversary. (We were married in 1970, so you can do the math on “the marriage that couldn’t last.”) And I continue to write stories about cowboys and Indians. But you put the two together, and you’ve got the best of both worlds. The Indian cowboy is his own man. He’s a lover, a loner, an outlaw and a defender of all that is sacred.
Which brings me to Sam Beaudry, the hero of the first book of a trilogy I’m doing for Silhouette Special Editions. Sam has been all of the above in his time, but he meets his match in In Care of Sam Beaudry, on sale April 28. There’s an excerpt on my website and one on Amazon.
So let’s talk about our favorite cowboys and outlaws. I have a little experience with both tucked under my trophy belt buckle. A little experience and a lot of fantasy. I’ll ask my hostess to draw her pistol blindfolded and hold up one commenter for a little re-ward—an autographed copy of In Care of Sam Beaudry. So fire away!
Kathleen blogs with her own posse at Riding With the Top Down.