Welcome Debut Author Julie Benson!

I’m thrilled to introduce my dear friend, Julie Benson, as she takes us behind the scenes of the “what-if” process that created her debut release from Harlequin American, BIG CITY COWBOY, coming out November 29.

Ideas for stories can come out of the blue when a writer least expects it. That’s what happened with my debut novel with Harlequin American, BIG CITY COWBOY.

My family attended a wedding inEstes Park,Colorado. (Thanks Angi and David for the invitation!) I’ve always loved horses, so we decided to go riding. The cowboy, Rory, helping my middle son with his horse, was the epitome of why women swoon when they think of cowboys. Dark hair and eyes, and classic western good looks, the man could stop traffic.

While he was helping my son, an older gentleman approached, and started talking to Rory about modeling. He politely accepted the man’s business card, but told him he wasn’t interest. Once the man left, Rory told my son that people asked him to model all the time, and they didn’t understand why a cowboy didn’t jump at the chance.

All I could think about, other than this cowboy’s good looks, was what a great story it would make if somthing forced this cowboy to agree to model. My mind was off and running. What would be important enough for Rory (yes, that’s my hero’s name) to leave Colorado, and everything he loved, for New York City and modeling, when these two things had to strike terror into the heart of any real cowboy?

The first thing that jumped to mind was to save the ranch. I set that aside, but kept thinking along the financial line. What if he needed money for something else, and the ranch was struggling, so the family had gone through their savings and couldn’t get a loan? That worked, but I still needed the bedrock reason Rory would model.

I have a dear friend, Judy Hoffman, who beat brain cancer. She went through experimental treatment in Portland, Oregon, and was one of a handful of patients going through treatment at the time. If I’m remembering correctly, she’s the only one who survived. Talk about a tough lady. I thought about that. A true cowboy would do literally anything to save his mom. I gave camera shy Rory a mom who was fighting brain cancer like Judy. Her only hope was experimental treatment. I raised the stakes by saying insurance refused to pay for the procedures, and she had to fly to Portland for treatment. Rory needed a lot of money and he needed it now, or his mom would die. Talk about motivation, and what woman wouldn’t love a man who put aside his pride to save his mother?

 Rory needed a strong, in charge, big city woman to go against. Elizabeth Harrington-Smyth barreled onto the stage, needing Rory to model jeans. He was perfect for her advertising campaign. She was out of time, and if he didn’t agree, the client would pull the account and she’d lose her job. After that, the rest of the story fell into place.

I have to add one more funny thing about coming up with this idea. After our horseback ride, I told my husband I wished I’d taken a picture of Rory. How I didn’t do that, still confounds me. My dear husband, Kevin smiled. When I’d told him how a cowboy being forced to model would make a great book, he’d taken a picture of the cowboy who inspired the story. Talk about a great husband who supports his wife’s writing career. He’s definitely a keeper.


Julie has agreed to give away a copy of Big City Cowboy to one commenter. So join in the conversation.

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31 thoughts on “Welcome Debut Author Julie Benson!”

  1. What a wonderful idea for a story. I have always wondered if author got there ideas from thing that happen in real life.

  2. Hi, Julie!

    What a great story behind the story! I love how ideas can come out of the blue. It’s so fun. And it never hurts to find a good-looking cowboy to serve as inspiration. :o)


  3. Julie – I love the ‘story behind the story’. It is so interesting to hear where authors get their ideas. Thanks for sharing yours.

  4. Hey quilt lady, kirsten and Lori,
    The cowboy I met was so incredibly good looking. I’ve tried to find him because I want to use his picture on my website, but like a true cowboy, he’s moved on from the ranch where I met him and they don’t know where to find him. 🙁 Whenever I got stuck writing this story or needed inspiration, I pulled up his photo and I was set to go. The art department at Harlequin did a great job with my cover. I sent them Rory’s picture and cover Rory is pretty spot on.

  5. What a great story! It’s always cool to hear how authors get their ideas, and then to hear how the ideas mushroom into something even bigger. Rory is wonderful hero! Thanks for visiting P&P today . . .

  6. Welcome Julie,,love the post,I love reading how authors get thier ideals for story lines,,,sounds like a really good book,keeping my fingers crossed

  7. Victoria and Vickie
    Thanks for the kind words. I’m thrilled to be here at Petticoats and Pistols. I’ve always loved westerns. The first two books I wrote were historicals set in the west. That’s one type of novel I never get tired of reading. Cowboys are wonderful no matter what the time period, as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, my voice never quite worked in historicals, and I wasn’t able to sell those stories. I’m having a blast writing about contemporary cowboys, though. I just finished Griffin McAlister’s story (Rory’s brother), and it was a lot of fun to write, too.

  8. Oh I just knew after reading those lines about asking him to be a model, it would make a great story… I will be putting t his on my tbr list for sure..

  9. Kathleen,
    Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy Big City Cowboy. It was a lot of fun taking a true cowboy and dropping him into the modeling/advertising world in New York City.

  10. I love the premise of this, it’s a nice change.. Who wouldn’t like a cowboy — are there chaps in this book??

  11. Liz,
    I contacted the ranch in Estes Park, Colorado trying to find Rory, but was told “he’d moved on” and they don’t know where he went. I wish I could find him. I wrote for so long before selling. My middle son, the one who told Rory about modeling, was a toddler when I started writing. He’s now in college! (Yes, I’m a slow learner!) I’d love to thank Rory for inspiring the story that resulted in my last sale. I’ve been thinking about putting his picture on my website to see if anyone recognizes him and knows how to contact him.

  12. Thanks for sharing the reason for this story. I always say our environment is inspiring. And your tale sounds REALLY fascinating.

  13. Julie, a big welcome to P&P. We’re so excited to have you. I love the cover to your debut book and the premise of the story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that had a cowboy model. Have you seen the movie Cowboy Way starring Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland? In that movie Woody Harrelson modeled underwear in New York City. It was a very funny scene because he sure didn’t want to do it but he needed the money.

    Wishing you lots of success!

  14. Linda,
    I’ve never seen the movie, but I’m adding that to movies to see list. It’s supposed to be nasty weather here in Dallas this weekend. Perfect for a movie, and you’ve definitely peaked my curiosity because in my book I’ve got a running joke about modeling underwear. 🙂

  15. Hi Julie! We’ve been friends long enough for me to know a lot of your journey to publication – it still inspires me. And after seeing the “real” Rory, I understand how he could inspire a love story. Mmmm, mmmm, yummy. Care to tell us a little about your next release? When is it coming out?

  16. Hey Julie! Great to see you over here talking about this story. I’ve loved the idea of the book and your hero ever since the first time you told it to me. And I can say your vision of him lives up to everything in your book! Congrats!!

  17. It’s interesting to read about how or where author’s come up with story ideas. Because you based part of your story on a real person then it makes the book seem more real to the reader. Thanks for the info. Enjoyed reading your blog today.

  18. I love hearing authors talk about how a seed planted grows into a wonderful full blown story. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like a wonderful read! 😀

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of Big City Cowboy. Thank you for the chance!

    🙂 Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  19. My husband can never understand how I get from point A to point B when it isn’t a straight line. I think a woman’s thought process is a bit different. We take all sorts of detours, side trips, and sight seeing tours. We get great ideas along the way and enjoy the trip. Tell a guy how you got there and they are lost. Your trip certainly sounds like it produced a book well worth reading.

    Best of luck with the release of BIG CITY COWBOY.

  20. I’ve been to Estes Park, Colordao and loved it! In fact we went there at Christmas time one year and it was fantastic! Your book looks great – can’t wait to read it!

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