I’m a Californian at heart, having lived in So Cal for most of my life, so the pop culture tune, California Dreaming is a song I know very well. I love California and once set a series, Napa Valley Vows in northern California. Those heroes were not cowboys, but vintners who had love affairs with women and wine.
For my new series, The Slades of Sunset Ranch, I needed the perfect location to set these three modern day cowboy stories. I really wanted to move out of Arizona (where the Worths of Red Ridge reside) and I wanted to pick a setting that was a little more picturesque than the flatlands of Texas where I’d set so many other books, so I began my Nevada Dreaming.
For most people, when they hear “Nevada”, they immediately think of Las Vegas, but with me, that wasn’t the case at all. I’m always thinking of ranches and cowboys and history. My mind clicked away and I remembered my visit to the Ponderosa Ranch amid tall sugar pine trees, deep green valleys and the awe-inspiring Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Ponderosa was a fictional ranch owed by Ben Cartwright and his sons, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe not too far from Virginia City, in the immensely popular and iconic western TV show Bonanza. It aired from 1959 to 1972, having a long 13 year reign in TV land. As a result, many of us became familiar with the Cartwright ranch house and surroundings. Bonanza was shot on location at the Ponderosa Ranch in Incline Village, Nevada, for the most part and for many years after the show ended, tourists were welcomed to the ranch and given tours of the inside rooms where the television series was shot.
That’s where my Nevada dream came in. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to center this new Desire series in a similar type of location… I wanted picturesque and I got it! I dreamt up Sunset Ranch, a thoroughbred horse farm and Sunset Lodge, an upscale dude ranch, to tell my stories. Then I tossed in Logan, Luke and Justin Slade into the mix, three love-resistant brothers who run the massive Slade empire.
After that, I invented the town of Silver Springs (although I’m sure there are many real towns with that name) and pulled memories from my trips to the Lake Tahoe area, for the rest. BTW, Lake Tahoe is where we honeymooned and were lucky enough to see Elvis Presley in concert, so that area does really hold a special place in my heart.
I’m into my 3rd Sunset Ranch story now, with military hero, Justin Slade’s homecoming, and the landscape hasn’t failed me yet. Though, I will have completed the three stories in this series soon, I might very well end up writing a fourth one using one of the characters from book two. After all, I know the lay of the land now!
For me, sometimes figuring out where to set my stories is just
as hard as creating appealing characters and a compelling story. When a writer develops a series in one location they get to know the area inside out and hopefully the setting feels real to the reader…that’s my goal.
My Nevada Dreaming was chockfull of good memories and beautiful scenery.
Were you a fan of Bonanza? Did you recognize that interior room and Ben Cartwright’s desk? Would you have liked to visit The Ponderosa Ranch? And here’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask. If you had to pick one, are you a Mountain, Beach or City type of tourist? What’s your favorite kind of vacation?
Sunset Surrender – in bookstores and on Amazon now.
Sunset Seduction – June 2013
Sunsets and Baby Secrets – Nov 2013