Today, instead of tea and crumpets, grab a beer and some pork rinds as we learn the truth about cowboys from western romances bestselling author Joanne Kennedy… Give her a warm and welcoming Yee-Haw!

FACT VS. FICTION IN ROMANCE: THE TRUTH ABOUT COWBOYS

Out here in Wyoming, the West is still wild—a rollicking mixture of fact and fiction, myth and reality. Movies and Western novels have turned the cowboy into an archetype that’s distinctively American and uniquely masculine, and as a romance novelist, I’m proud to be continuing that tradition.

But while telling a good story is my first goal, I also want my readers to get a sense of what it’s like to live here. Readers want a hero they can fall in love with— a strong straight-shooter who lives by a code of honor, respects the land, bonds with animals, and treats a woman right. But they also want to know what it’s really like out here, so I try to add plenty of authenticity to my books.

Besides, researching the topics I write about is fun! For Cowboy Fever, I spent some time at a therapy riding program, studied up on the fine art of being a rodeo queen, and learned about polo (and those sexy Argentine polo players, of course).

The therapy riding is something I’ve been involved in for a while, and it actually inspired the story. My friend’s daughter has autism, and I volunteered to help out at her horseback riding lesson. I helped out as a side-walker, a volunteer who trots alongside the horse (sometimes literally) and makes sure the rider is safe.

I came to Cheyenne Therapeutic Equestrian Center for the horses, but I stayed for the kids. It is incredible to see the difference equestrian therapy can make for children with autism. Everyday life can be a struggle for these kids as they’re barraged by sensations they don’t understand. It’s hard for them to focus and learn—but put them on a horse and many of them glow with a new self-confidence that is incredible to see. I came to admire both the kids and their families for their courage in the face of unimaginable challenges, and putting some of their real-life triumphs into the book meant more to me than you can ever imagine.

 I admire rodeo queens. Outsiders think a rodeo queen is just another pageant princess, but in reality these girls are skilled riders and remarkable young women. Yes, they’re gorgeous and their hair is amazing—but they’re also accomplished equestriennes and great representatives of their communities.

Besides, have you ever tried to lope a horse in front of a rowdy rodeo crowd carrying a full-sized flag? It’s not an easy task!

 Then there’s the clash of the polo players with my fictional world’s small-town values. Yes, there really is polo in Wyoming. Up in Sheridan, the Big Horn Polo Club hosts games all through the spring and summer. The collision of that wealthy, privileged world with the grittier traditions of cowboy country fascinated me. Most of the team owners are CEOs and executives. It takes a lot of money to play polo.

And that brings me to one of the points of authenticity I’m most proud of in my novels: money—or the lack of it. My cowboys have a lot to offer a woman, but they’re not rich and their lives are not easy. Ranching is hard work, and in these days of factory farms and massive corporate cattle operations, it’s hard for a real rancher to survive.

It’s handy when your hero’s rich. He doesn’t have to go to work, his time is his own, and he can spoil the heroine rotten. But I think the very real struggle for survival in the West adds an essential dimension to my cowboy characters, and I love the quiet heroics of men like Nate Shawcross in One Fine Cowboy, who saves the family ranch as well as abused horses, and Teague Treadwell in Cowboy Fever, who builds up his alcoholic father’s played-out spread into a successful roughstock operation. Then there’s Luke Rawlins in Cowboy Trouble, who tends the ranch and also cares for his aging parents. These are men I can really admire and love, and hopefully readers feel the same.

To me, that’s the true cowboy mystique—a man doing what needs to be done and staying true to himself, no matter what obstacles life throws in his way.

So how do you like your heroes – rich or poor? And have they always been cowboys, like mine?

COWBOY FEVER BY JOANNE KENNEDY – IN STORES APRIL 2011

She Thought She Had It All…
A modeling contract with Wrangler got this Miss Rodeo Wyoming a first-class ticked out of town, but somewhere along the way Jodi Brand lost her soul. When she gets back to her hometown, her childhood friend Teague Treadwell’s rugged cowboy charm hits her like a ton of bricks…

He Believed He Wasn’t Good Enough…
Teague is convinced Jodi’s success lifted her out of his reach. Now he’s got to shed his bad boy image to be worthy of the girl next door…

But whoever heard of a beauty queen settling for a down and dirty cowboy…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joanne Kennedy has worked in bookstores all her life in positions ranging from bookseller to buyer. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second place in the Heart of the Rockies contest in 2007. Joanne lives and writes in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on Tall, Dark and Cowboy (Releasing in November 2011). For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.

Win a Free Copy of Cowboy Fever by Joanne Kennedy

Joanne Kennedy and Sourcebooks Inc. is giving away a copy of Cowboy Fever to 2 winners, US and Canada only. To enter for your chance to win this great prize, just Email me (with “Cowboy fever give away” in the subject line) at jkhastings at yahoo dot com, with your answer to Joanne’s question (or you can simply comment on this post – just remember to include your email address). Contest ends April 20th and winners will be chosen using random.org to keep it fair.

Want a better chance to win? get extra entries by…

+3 – Subscribing to Laugh Love Write (email subscription is on the right)
+1 – Tweeting this post
+1 – Posting a link on your blog
+2 – Subscribing to my Suite101 articles (which you can view on the right side bar) 
+1 – Adding a Laugh Love Write button to your blog

(Just post a comment on this post with links to your tweets or blogs to prove you linked and let us know why you get extra entries)

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
9 Responses
  1. It’s a little early for beer and pork rinds, but thanks for joining me for some cowboy talk. I’ll be stopping by to answer questions and talk cowboys all day long, so pull up a hay bale and let me know how you like your heroes!

  2. Good mornin’ Joanne. As you know I loved Cowboy Fever! To all of you who haven’t read it, run, don’t walk to your nearest book store and buy a copy. Buy two! You won’t want to share yours so you’ll need one for the neighbor or your closest friend when you tell them all about the great book.

  3. Carolyn, thanks! For all those who don’t already know (like if you’ve been living in a cave, or hangin’ with the penguins in Antarctica) Carolyn writes funny, sexy cowboy romances with some of the best sassy heroines in the genre – and some of the hottest cowboy heroes, too.

  4. Joanne: Loved Cowboy Fever and can’t wait for your next one to come out next month. I’ve always been a western fan and have traveled through Cheyene two or three times. Maybe I’ll stop in and see you sometime.
    Best of luck with your books sales and keep up the good work.

    • Thanks, Lorelei! You can find me at the Barnes & Noble coffee shop pretty often, or get in touch through Facebook or my website. Let me know if you come to town, and thanks for the good wishes!

  5. karenk says:

    thanks for the chance to read this wonderful story :)

    i’m an email subscriber, too.

  6. Johanna Jochum says:

    I love your books and can’t wait to read this one! Great post today and thanks for sharing!

    evjochum[AT]aol[DOT]com
    +3 email subscriber

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Captcha Captcha Reload