Today I thought I’d jump back in time to the first book that got me hooked on writing historical western romances. Before I wrote it, I expected to go back to writing fantasy novels. But this book is why I never ended up doing fantasy. 🙂 Once I wrote it, I knew my course had changed dramatically…and changed for the better. It was also the book that fully launched me into self-publishing my work because I want to blend the sweet romance feel with the spicy content I preferred to read in romance novels.
I wrote this book because I wanted to do a mail-order bride story. I thought the idea of a woman traveling West to marry a man she’d never met was a romantic notion. Granted, in real life, it probably was more about necessity, but in romance, happy endings are guaranteed (which is why I love romance).
Originally, I was going to do have Neil be the hero. He was supposed to marry Mary and stand up for her when his brothers put her down because she was plain. But when I got to the train station scene, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be more dramatic if he rejected her?”
So I went back and wrote in the scene where Dave Larson was at the mercantile and happened to find out Neil was on the way to meet his intended at the train station.
Why a plain one? Because it seemed that every single heroine I’d been reading in romance novels were drop dead gorgeous, something I am definitely not. So why not write about a woman who wasn’t perfect? Everyone has a quality that makes them beautiful, even if they aren’t on the outside.
I didn’t originally intend to include Cassie (who was beautiful on the outside but ugly on the inside). My original point of conflict was between Dave and his brothers. But when I decided that Neil would reject Mary, I decided to give him the bride he wanted–super beautiful. As the story progressed, the plot became more of a “What defines beauty?” theme.
Part of the book was wish fulfillment. While I am happy in my marriage, there are some things I’m not crazy about, and I know my husband can say the same thing. Sometimes books allow a writer to take a part of their lives they’re not crazy about and dream up a scenario where things are different. In Dave was the ideal husband.
As a side note, I will add that no one is perfect. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. In July, I’ll be married for fourteen years, and I’m happy. But marriage has its ups and downs because people aren’t perfect. That’s why romance is a fun genre to write. You can have the perfect marriage with the happily ever after.