Inspiration is a funny thing.
When I’m sitting in front of my computer, tapping away at the keys, I’m miles and miles from home, in a different world, living a different life. One Fine Cowboy really carried me away, and the book kind of wrote itself—mostly because Nate and Charlie were such strong characters in my mind. Some books are inspired by a plot idea, some are inspired by a line or a thought, and some are inspired by a landscape or situation – but One Fine Cowboy was inspired by the characters.
I don’t know where Nate and Charlie came from, but they’re real—I’m sure of it. They’ve been with me for a while, stomping around in my subconscious, Nate in his cowboy boots and Charlie in her silly high-fashion footwear, waiting for their story to be told. I know this sounds crazy, or like I’m exaggerating, but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me to run into them at the feed store or in a local bar. They just have to be real, so I figure they’re out there somewhere, hopefully living their happily-ever-after at Latigo Ranch.
In his book “On Writing,” Stephen King talks about “the boys in the basement” as a way of defining his subconscious muses. I suppose I have “cowboys in the basement,” along with lots of other unexpected treasures.
Some of those treasures are memories. For example, the scene where Charlie looks down from the ridge and sees Nate’s ranch with the stream curling around it describes a place I saw on a drive once. It was a broken-down, dusty, deserted-looking old ranch, but there were horses stirring in the corral and the stream glowed mirror-bright in the dim twilight. A light came on in a window and suddenly and I wanted to live there so badly it hurt.
When I was working on the book, I remembered that image and conjured up the place again. I fantasized walking into the house, how the door would stick, and imagined what it would be like if my grandmother’s kitchen was behind the door, with its familiar wallpaper, the scent of long-ago fresh baked cookies lingering in the air and that indefinable sense of being home that marks our favorite places. How would that affect someone like Charlie, who has her life planned out and doesn’t expect to stay?
Doris, the older ranch lady who helps Charlie through some of her dilemmas, is based on the physical characteristics of one person and the personality of another. By combining to people, I keep people from realizing I “stole” them for a book. After all, Doris is described as being “skinny as a soup chicken.” But I would think anyone would be flattered by the portrayal. She’s wise and funny and a very strong, no-nonsense lady.
Phaedra, the Goth teenager who appears dressed in black like a Phantom Cowgirl of Doom, is another character who just turned up in the basement of my subconscious and wanted to come out and play. But the other child in the book, Sam, is based entirely on my friend’s daughter, who is also named Samantha. Like the little girl in the book, Samantha is a spunky redhead with a whirlwind personality who takes the world and everything in it by storm. I didn’t realize how closely the portrait matched the real girl until her mother sent me pictures of her stint as a flower girl in a wedding when she was about seven years old. The likeness to the image I’d pictured for one of my scenes was uncanny, although I’d never seen the pictures and didn’t know Samantha had ever been a flower girl. It was as if a real event had somehow slipped into my subconscious and spilled onto the page.
So who knows where all that stuff in the basement comes from? Some of it’s what you’d expect—old memories and longings, scenes from your past and friends remembered. But a few of the boxes hold surprises you’ve never seen before—and writing gives you the chance to open them and play with what’s inside. When readers pick up my books, I get to share all the treasures I found there—cowboys and horses, ranch gates and bunkhouses, small-town bars and pickup trucks, and best of all, the feeling of falling in love.
IN STORES – SEPTEMBER 2010
He’s got a way with horses…and with women...
Nate Shawcross is perfectly content to spend his days training wild horses. So when a beautiful greenhorn unexpectedly shows up for a seminar from the famous “Horse Whisperer” of Wyoming, all Nate wants to do is send her packing…
The last thing she expects is a lesson in romance…
Graduate student Charlie Banks came to the ranch to learn about horse communication, but when she meets the ruggedly handsome cowboy, she starts to fantasize about another connection entirely…
Nate needs to stay focused if he’s going to save his ranch from foreclosure, but he can’t help being distracted by the brainy and breathtakingly sexy Charlie. Could it be that after all this time Nate has finally found the one woman who can tame his wild heart?
About the Author
Joanne Kennedy has worked in bookstores all her life in positions from bookseller to buyer. A member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, she won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second in the Heart of the Rockies contest. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.
Thanks to Sourcebooks, I have two copies of One Fine Cowboy to give to a Minding Spot Reader!!
USA and Canada Only. Must be a Minding Spot Follower to enter.
Leave a question/comment for Joanne for an extra entry.
Winners announced October 5th.
CONTEST IS CLOSED.