Elaine Levine: The Best of Both Worlds

elaine_levineWhat I love best about writing historical westerns is that I get to research the world of the west as it existed at the time of my stories. . . and then make up my own reality–using the truth and a bit of fiction.  My Men of Defiance series takes place in a make-believe town somewhere in the Laramie River Valley area of what is now Wyoming.  It’s an imaginary place inspired by my favorite Wyoming things and places–Vedauwoo, Laramie, Centennial, South Pass City, sun, wind and space. 

And now I have a new piece to add to the tapestry of Defiance: Ten Sleep, Wyoming. OutsideofTenSleep

Ten Sleep is a magical place that I had wanted to visit for quite a while.  Last summer, I talked my husband into a road trip.  After five hours of driving north over endlessly rolling, summer-brown prairie, we turned west and drove up (and up and up) into the Big Horn Mountains through beautiful alpine forests that were cool in late August, hinting of the winter to come.  It seemed that we no sooner crested the peak of a mountain than we were thrust down into an enormous canyon with hair-pin turns–such a shock after the hours of unchanging landscape on the highway.

The town was lush and green–a true oasis in the late summer dryness of Wyoming.  It was founded in 1882, but had long been the midpoint point between Indian camps–ten sleeps in either direction.  SouthPassCity1_smThere’s plenty to see and do in the area–a mammoth dig, petroglyphs, badlands, the Washakie Museum, shops, parks, camping, fishing and golf. 

But what was most interesting to me in Ten Sleep was the history behind the Spring Creek Raid that occurred in the area in 1909–the last major confrontation between cattlemen and sheep ranchers fighting for grazing rights in Wyoming’s opeDefiance14_Smn range. 

In that raid, seven masked men–all respected local cattlemen and ranch hands –attacked Joe Allemand’s sheep camp, burning their two sheep wagons, and killing Allemand, his partner, his nephew, hundreds of sheep and a few sheep dogs.   Public outrage at the event caused it to be the beginning of the end of the decades of violence between the two types of ranchers.

The hero of AUDREY AND THE MAVERICK, Julian McCaid, owns a sheep ranch outside of Defiance–smack, dab in the middle of prime cow country.  The tensions between the two types of ranchers is something the sheriff of Defiance uses to stir up trouble for McCaid, hoping the troubles that plague our hero’s ranch will cause him to fold his operation and head back east.  But McCaid has rediscovered Audrey . . . and he’s just not ready to leave yet! 

I hope you’ll like this next installment in my Men of Defiance series.  I had loads of fun writing it.  Sager and Rachel make an appearance, as do the lead characters from my next story, LEAH AND THE AVENGER–Leah and Jace.

audreyAndMaveriI’ll be giving away a copy of AUDREY AND THE MAVERICK to a lucky commenter today.  And please stop by my new website, http://www.romconinc.com/, to learn about the new romance reader convention I’m organizing with the help of my partners, Tiffany James and Michele Chambers.  It’s going to be held in Denver, Colorado, on July 9-11.  I’d love to see you there!

Warmest wishes–

Elaine Levine

http://www.elainelevine.com/

http://www.romconinc.com/

Guest Blogger
Updated: February 18, 2010 — 8:40 am

54 Comments

  1. What an interesting story. Were the masked seven brought to trial and convicted of this sheep massacre?

    I’ve driven across Wyoming (east-west). I remember the barren hills with just an occasional oil derrick. I agree very boring! Then we hit the area about 50 miles from Cody. BEAUTIFUL! We continued on, camped in Yellowstone National Park.

    I’d love to read Julian and Audrey’s story, “Audrey and the Maverick”. You are a new author for me.

  2. Hi, Elaine! Congratulations on the success of your “Men of Defiance” series! I envy you–I can’t think of anything I’d rather research than the American Old West of the 1800’s! I was raised with a family who loved watching Westerns together on TV and at the movies! My grandfather also read many Western stories written by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. I have a deep love for the Old West. I feel as though I lived there very happily with my own “Man of the West”.

  3. Hi Laurie G! It’s those pockets of beauty–and the barren hills that define them–that make me love Wyoming.

    The masked seven were taken to trial. The public outcry was too loud for the law to ignore. Of the seven men, two turned states evidence, one was convicted of first degree murder, two were convicted of second degree murder. Those three were sentenced to three years in jail. The final two were convicted on arson charges and sentenced to two years in jail.

  4. I know just what you mean, Virginia C! We get a cable TV station called Encore Westerns out here. They play western movies and TV shows 24/7–without commercial breaks. I love it! I record Clint Walker in Cheyenne every day (Julian is the spitting image of Clint).

  5. Hi Elaine, I just love,love historical westerns,an this looks like such a good one too!thanks so much for the great post
    vlbelk(at)hotmail.com

  6. Hi, Elaine. This sounds like a good story. My husband and I like to watch westerns, especially John Wayne westerns. (Well, for that matter, any John Wayne movie.) I remember watching a western that had a premise like your book, but I can’t recall the entire gist of the movie. I’m not sure, but I think Glenn Ford was in it.

    I remember going to Yellowstone and seeing the Devil’s Tower on a family vacation when I was a girl.

  7. I do enjoy historical books and I really like learning more about the old west. I don’t think they teach nearly enough about that era in school. A lot of what I have learned about the west has been from romance books. I can’t wait to read your book.

  8. Hi Elaine. Your book sounds great. I grew up on westerns, too. My upcoming historical pits a cattleman and sheep rancher against each other in Colorado. The research into that time is fascinating. Thanks for sharing your road trip with us. I’d love to visit Ten Sleep.

    Stacey Coverstone

  9. Hi Vickie! Thanks for visiting with me today! I hope you’ll give AUDREY AND THE MAVERICK a read–I’d love to hear what you think about it!

  10. Westerns (books or movies!) are addictive, Deb. You’ve gotten to see quite a bit of Wyoming. I thought Devil’s Tower was amazing–an enormous tower of rock that spikes up out of nowhere on the rolling plains. Very cool!

  11. Hi Linda! It’s great to see one of our RomConInc regulars here! I agree with you that the western era in American History is underrepresented in schools. The problem is that so much was happening elsewhere in the world at the same time that the major shifts that occurred in the west seem small. And it was a very brief time period in our history. But it is full of fascinating stories!!

  12. What a violent time it was, Stacey. I bet you had a blast researching your story! Good luck with your work. It seems that the demand for our westerns is on the rise again as readers remember what fun reading they are!

  13. I really liked your book Rachel and the Hired Gun.

  14. I’m looking forward to reading all the books in this series. I love well researched historicals. Thanks for looking into a part of history not usually written about in romances!
    I love all of Wyoming. The barren stretches send my imagination into overdrive.
    Several years ago in the Southwest part of the state we saw sheepherders working. I can’t imagine the isolation, enduring the weather extremes and living out of those tiny wagons. The sheep dogs are incredible. I’d love to know more about those people who live that way and love it.

  15. Hi Elaine,
    I have read both your books so far and loved them.
    I can hardly wait for the next one to be published. Will it be Jace and Leah’s story? I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming so I can vividly imagine your stories taking place not far from me.
    Historical western romances are my favorite and your writing has given me great reading pleasure.

  16. Hi Elaine. I love this. Ten Sleep, what a great name. What a beautiful sounding place.

    And such an interesting place, besides the cattlemen sheep men war.

    Thanks for being on.

  17. Elaine,

    your book is on my must read list.I have read most of your books, except for this one, and loved them.
    I love Wyoming it is beautiful there

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  18. We drove the Oregon/Mormon trail through Wyoming a few years ago and I think that the terrain is breathtaking! What a beautiful place. I wanted to move there, but my hubby said, ‘uh…no way’. lol!
    Interesting post!

  19. Great post Elaine, I love reading the western romances! I have never been out west so I get to travel there in books. I have read both of your books in this series and can’t wait for the next book. I thought Rachel and the Hired Gun was the best book I read in 2009. Audrea and the Maveric I pre-ordered from Amazon and read it as soon as I got it. Loved both books, so keep up the good work. Don’t enter me because I have read the book! To everyone else if you haven’t read Elaine’s books please get them, they are awesome!

  20. Very interesting story. I love Western reads. This book sounds great. Please enter me.
    tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

  21. Deb, the movie you are talking about with Glenn Ford was called ‘The Sheepman’1958, it was good.

    Elaine, wonderful post. And Can I say I LOVE your cover. That is so interesting about the raid. I wish more westerns took place in the early 1900’s, the change in the old west must have been rather jarring to these cowboys. And it did change fairly fast. All the best for your release!

  22. Enjoyed reading the comments and viewing the photos. I have traveled through Wyoming and found it to be a lovely open space.
    The book sounds good and I have added it to my TBR list.

  23. Welcome to the Junction, Elaine. The cover is yummy…and the name Ten Sleep is so intriguing! Congrats on the Defiance series. Hope to see you here again soon.

  24. Hi Elaine. I enjoyed reading your post and viewing your site. Your book sounds wonderful.

  25. I have read that the cattle ranches hated the ones that brought sheep to their areas… did not know about that incident though… your book sounds exciting!!! 😀

  26. Thank you so much, anon1001!!! I hope you’ll continue with the series!

  27. Thanks, Karyn, my friend. 🙂

  28. The isolation in Wyoming is like a living thing, Judy. A friend of mine has a ranch outside of Chugwater, Wy. The silence there is so intense that it seems you can hear the earth breath.

  29. The next story is Jace and Leah’s, Sharon B. They have a hard road to their happy ending! We lived in Cheyenne for a couple of years–I loved it, which is why my stories are placed in WY!

  30. Hi, Mary!! Thanks for having me here! Don’t you love those crazy place names?

  31. Thank you, Melinda!! And thanks for stopping by!

  32. Thank you for the history lesson! Looking forward to reading your Men of Defiance series.

  33. i didn’t realize that there was so much sheep farming going on
    that really intrigues me in itself!
    very interesting about 10 sleeps
    gasp…really though…10 sleep away from the next camp
    i like to live in the middle of nowhere…that might be a little far though 🙂

    sounds like a great story
    thanks for givins us all a chance at winning it!

  34. I’ve always wanted to do that, Stephanie. Those trails are rapidly disappearing now. Did you do the trails on wagons or in cars?

    And yeah–my hubby said no freakin’ way too, but you see who won….!

  35. Quilt Lady– you rock! You are the best fan a newbie author could have!!

  36. Aboslutely, April! Thanks for stopping by today!!

  37. What a wonderful way of learning our history. I sure wish they had fun facts like this in school instead of memorizing dates etc. Ten Sleep – what a great name. I look forward to reading more.

  38. Good to know, Karyn–I’ll watch for that flick on Encore Westerns!

  39. Thank you, Joye!! I hope you’ll check in after you read it and let me know what you thought of it!

  40. Hi Elaine – Love your cover! The book sounds wonderful.
    I just joined RomCon and am enjoying the site. Wish I could go to the convention, but maybe next year!!

  41. Enjoyed reading your column today. Your book sounds like one I would enjoy reading.

  42. I grew up on westerns. Had to read my Dad’s Zane Grey’s and Louis L’Amour’s. Lived waaaay out in the country and it was quite a trip to the lirary.
    Have never outgrown my love of westerns.

  43. I would love to read this book! Sounds so good. Please enter me. Loved this interview!! Thanks!!!

  44. Hi Elaine,
    Congratulations on your new book. I had no idea that there was such tension between cattle ranchers and sheep framers. It was an interesting post.

  45. Hey, Elaine! Welcome back to the Junction. I’m glad to be able to welcome a fellow Kensington western writer here. It’s been years since I visited Wyoming–now I have a reason to go back (as if I needed another one) and visit Ten Sleeps.

  46. Hi, Elaine,

    Like Estella, I grew up reading my Dad’s L’Amours
    and Greys. Our favorite films and TV shows were
    Westerns. When I married, I married a man who, as
    a child, refused to speak to anyone who did not
    address him as “Roy” (as in Rogers!) Needless to
    say, Westerns are BIG favorites in our home! I look
    forward to reading your series.

    Pat Cochran

  47. Thanks so much for having me here today, Tanya! You have wonderful readers–I love visiting!

  48. Hi CrystalGB! Thanks for checking out my site!! If you get a chance, take a peek at http://www.romconinc.com, the site of our new romance reader convention…we’d love to see all of you in Denver this summer!!

  49. That’s why I love this site, Jeanne! There’s always some cool bits of western living that are posted here. Thanks for stopping by today!

  50. I hope you do give my stories a try, Jackie! Drop me a note sometime to let me know what you think about them!

  51. Estella and Pat–my dad was a HUGE fan of Louis L’Amour’s books, too–an addiction I inherited! He had an amazing way of capturing a character’s essence. And his descriptions of the settings and challenges they faced were engrossing.

  52. Glad you enjoyed it, Maureen! Thanks for the congrats!!

  53. Howdy, Tracy! I hope you do visit Ten Sleep–but if you do, make sure you come down through the canyon. It’s breathtaking! Thanks for having me back here!!

  54. Hi, Elaine ~

    It’s just your RomCon crony stopping in to say “hi” and echo many of the commenters here…I loved Audrey and the Maverick! Keep those Defiance stories coming!

    Tiffany

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