I know a lot of readers are almost burned out on excerpts and the typical new release ballyhoo. Maybe it has been overdone? I cannot speak for all readers or even the larger part of them but I know I really like to get a peek behind the scenes and find out why an author chose to create a specific tale. What inspired her? What motivated him? Why this plot, this setting, these characters? So that is a favorite thing for me to share with all of you when it’s my turn to “say something” on the AQP blogs about a new work of mine.
Thank You, Ranch Romances is a special story to me. In a way, it is my own personal thank you to a real world magazine that helped brighten some of my hours very long ago. I grew up in a rural area, lived and worked in a ranch-type setting and other than the hours I spent in school, my social life was quite limited until I left home. In those days before the internet, mobile phones, texting/sexting and many things we now take for granted it was not easy to reach out beyond your immediate world.
I discovered pen pals in my mid teens and rode the heck out of that hobby horse for some years! I started with the kids’ section of Western Horseman magazine and moved on to the very real Ranch Romances pulp mag which lasted well into the 1960s. Although none of my contacts became long term romances, I do still have a couple of girlfriends who started as pen pals in those days. The temporary boyfriends-by-mail that I enjoyed saw me through lonely days until I met my first and later loves and future husband the more conventional way.
First I have to admit my description of the “lurid” cover the first lead character notes is a notch off factual. Ranch Romances was one of the tamer pulps when it came to covers. The detective mags were the most notorious for the “dames in dishabille” style of cover art. The cover Trace (Trace Edward Zaber, part owner and cover artist for Amber Quill) did for my story is spot on, however. I wish I still had some of my old copies; they’d do well on eBay!!
Okay, now to the rest of the how and why. When the “getting connected” theme emerged on our list of potential PAX ideas, I had a vague thought of something much more modern. Then I wrote a short essay for my memoir writing group at the local senior center and this idea hit me right between the eyes! Yes! A “mail order bride” situation where one party ends up with a surprise. Perfect. It took some research to be as true to the era I chose as possible but I don’t think I pulled any major faux pas. Hope not anyway as I do value historical accuracy, even in nostalgia set tales.
Once I had this setting, I had to wait a short while for characters to appear. Wade came first, a rancher in a backward corner of New Mexico, my current home state. Okay. Why would he be seeking someone? Then the scene of his wife’s funeral emerged and I had that answer. Since this is a gay romance, who will respond to his ad? That’s when Darnell stepped out of the shadows.
My chosen era was much more restrictive and less gay-friendly than the very worst scenario in 2015. To be true to this time, there were a lot of things I could not have these two do but I knew that even then, men did meet and fall in love and find ways to share their lives. Darnell brought a past with him which he shared with me. I knew he was the right guy to make this story work. Wade’s children had key roles to play, too, and in some ways they became the most real to me of all the characters along with Buck, the old cowboy Wade keeps on the payroll out of sympathy and respect. I did know him or some men very similar in those distant days. So, a tip of the Stetson to the past!
That’s the capsule version of the why and how of this story. It is a step outside the mainstream and the expected, perhaps, but those of you who have read Deirdre O’Dare before know that is almost a hallmark of my stories. I like to tackle a few social issues, some unusual plot twists, characters that may be unexpected and a bit unique. Readers tend to either love or hate my tales. I am okay with that for to paraphrase P.T. Barnum, you can’t please all of the people all of the time! Enough seem to enjoy my work that I will keep on keeping on with it for as long as I can. Writing has been a lifelong joy to me and although I do not even pretend to be an exceptional writer, I know I am a natural born story teller, courtesy of the blood of many Celtic ancestors who were bards and tale weavers in the old traditional way of those folk. Sit down now by the fire here and let me weave a little 1949 magic for you, even if your grandma was just a wee tyke in those days…
Thank You, Ranch Romances by Deirdre O'Dare is now available at Amber Allure.
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