A certain kind of man —
Throughout history there has been that certain kind of man—the hero? The daredevil? The fool who risks death? — Who rushes in when other men would have hesitated.
In my writing I often create heroes who fight for what is right, who win battles, who save the day, but there is another kind of man born for adventure. In flight, we call them the barnstormers. In the Army, they might be the Special Forces who go in when the odds are against them. And in rodeo, they are the bull riders.
I once did research on pre-WWI pilots. I found that some were gamblers playing with death but most loved the thrill of skating on the razor’s edge. (The book was CHERISH THE DREAM) These kinds of men are like mountain climbers and people who do extreme sports.
For the past few months I’ve been doing research on bull riders. Just by accident one afternoon I was talking to a man in his early forties who was a fireman. We were both waiting for a play to start. I mentioned that I was writing about rodeo bull riders. He tugged up his sleeve and showed me a long ugly scar running up his arm.
“That’s just one,” he said. “There are others.”
The character in my latest book is named Noah. I watched this fireman sitting beside me and in my mind my Noah came alive before my eyes. All at once this man became an older version of Noah. The fireman might be older and wiser than my young man, but the love for the rodeo was still there.
I watched him move to the edge of his chair as he talked, widening his long legs as if getting ready for the gate to open.
“I started college,” he said. “Into my sophomore year I got to going with a friend to rodeos. At first we rode to pick up a little extra money and for the thrill. Then we got our cards and took it seriously. School became less and less important as I began to ride every weekend. It was almost like a drug. We lived for the ride.”
He laughed and said, “It’s been almost twenty years but I can feel the adrenaline running through my body just thinking about the ride. If I thought I could still ride, I’d be in line to draw a bull right now.”
I kept talking to him because I was no longer in Lubbock waiting for a play; I was talking to my Noah from Harmony, Texas.
Only my Noah is 21 and he’s been hurt for the third time, and this time he’s afraid to climb back on and ride. His dad was a national champion. The whole town thinks he’s a hero living the life they’d all love to live.
Once in a while reality and fiction mix for me and I love it.
Noah was called Preacher in WELCOME TO HARMONY because when he rode in high school rodeos he got religion. In SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY coming out on Nov. 2, 2010, he’s started riding pro. In my third Harmony book, he’s hurt.
Come along with me and Noah and Reagan’s journey. I promise you’ll fall in love with them and the town of Harmony, Texas.
Contest: In my story Noah rides once using a Suicide wrap. Leave a comment and tell me your stories of attending or being in a rodeo. If you include the definition of this kind of wrap, you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY. We’ll draw a winner on Sunday.
And let me know how you like the video.