What 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.
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. There’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 open 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.
I’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!