Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Story Behind the Story

There's always a story behind every book. The what if's do sometimes jump out at writers but at the end of the day there is some kind of story that goes along with the story.

In between the next chapter of "Saddled with Trouble," I thought I'd write a bit about the story that is behind the book and some of the challenges that were met while writing it.

If you have read or want to read the Michaela Bancroft series then you know that Michaela trains Quarter Horses and she focuses on reiners. For those of you who don't know what reining is, it is where rider and horse work together as one through precise pattern circles, spins, and stops. All work is done at the canter (or "lope" or "run" in Western parlance). The patterns consist of small slow circles, large fast circles, spins, and rapid changes of directions, flying lead changes, and sliding stops. I have to be completely honest, I don't know a ton about reining. It's not the discipline that I ride in. But I do know about horses and I have grown up around a lot of horse people. My dad is a cowboy and started his equestrian business over 35 years ago. His love and passion has always been toward The Quarter Horse and the disciplines that you may associate most Quarter horses with such disciplines as reining and cutting. Myself on the other hand, have always ridden English and jumping is my passion. So why not write about a character who trains say Thoroughbreds or Warmbloods in the English disciplines? I wanted to, but my dad talked me into using the Quarter Horse world and reining as a setting. He made some good points and I went with it. I've learned a lot more about these disciplines since I've written three books in the series. My passion is still in the jumping. That isn't going to change. But what is interesting to me is that Michaela's character fits so well with what she does. She's very down to Earth, decent person who loves the animals, her friends and her family. I enjoy writing about her life a great deal.

I mentioned the challenges that each book faces when being written. Life sometimes get in the way of writing process. With this book, it did but I still kept on writing because that was what writers do. My best friend Hillarie had breast cancer and while writing this book she was in the last stages. I spent a lot of time at her kitchen table working on the book and being available to her. As I worked on the manuscript I noticed a certain character taking on traits of Hillarie--Michaela's bff Camden. Hill always had a real joy for life and she laughed and joked a lot. She had a wonderful sense of humor and some of the antics that we pulled off together were down right nutty but lots of fun. I finished the book on time and sadly I also lost my friend. I miss her a lot but much of her spirit lives on in my character Camden. It's funny how life and writing co-mingle together. As I stated--there is always a story behind the story.


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