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.