2/2010: FATAL BURN (Book #2, Love Inspired Suspense Big Sky Secrets series)
6/2010: END GAME (book #3 in the LIS Big Sky Secrets series)
11/2010: WINTER REUNION (book #1, the LI Aspen Creek Crossroads series)
4/2011: MURDER AT GRANITE FALLS (book #4, LIS Big Sky Secrets series)
6/2011: SECOND CHANCE DAD (Book #2 in the LI Aspen Creek series)
11/2011: THE LONER’S THANKSGIVING WISH (book #5 in the new Rocky Mountain Heirs series for Love Inspired)
12/2011: Untitled (Book #5 in the Big Sky Secrets series)
Wow! I'm in awe. And I'm looking forward to what Roxanne has to share with us today. Be sure to hang around, because I see she mentions a giveaway at the end of her post!
Research is Waaay Too Much Fun
by Roxanne Rustand
Do you ever wonder how an author researches material for a book? I often set my books in the modern day west, and I think I started my general research when I was six years old and my dad bought me an elderly mare and bridle for $75.00 --no saddle for a couple years, though, as the old horse trader down the road said bareback was the only way to learn. From then on, I was on horseback from dawn to dusk, unless I had to be in school. It was like giving a six-year-old the car keys!
I grew up riding bareback throughout half the county, with all of my horse-owning friends. We played Civil War or cowboys and Indians. We were little girls in pigtails, racing across meadows and following every gravel road we could find. It was a magical childhood, before the time when parents became afraid to let their kids out of sight. I rode in rain and heavy snow, and loved loping across snow drifted fields. I look back now and can only be thankful that my guardian angel was working overtime! Eventually, I began to show, raise, train and show my own horses. It all proved to be great research for writing books set in the West!
Many of my horses (and other pets, like my son’s pet corn snake, Igor…or my husband’s beloved Schipperke, the Grandma Bitin’ Dog) have also become major elements in my books. Cherry was a seventeen-hand Thoroughbred-Clydesdale cross, bred to be a heavy hunter, I suppose, back in the day before the large influx of imported warm bloods. He had the color pattern of a Budweiser horse, with a broad white blaze and white socks, the lankiness of a Thoroughbred, and personality to burn. Tall as he was, he would lay down and shimmy under fences to escape, and he did that on a regular basis. He loved to go sight-seeing at night, and was particularly fascinated by houses and the people inside. One night, a couple looked outside and saw an eerie white form with glowing eyes “floating” outside their window–spying on them. Terrified that they were seeing an alien, they called the sheriff and several patrol cars soon arrived with lights and sirens…only to find Cherry standing on the couple’s rose bushes, and watching them through the window. Some of Cherry's adventures appeared in A MONTANA FAMILY.
Something out of my usual realm was the research for RODEO! Through a chain of fortunate events, a rodeo contractor let me travel with him and his wife to observe their work first-hand, and I also met a couple heavily involved in producing PBR rodeos. The notes from those interviews were a book in themselves, and the chance to spend time in the back lot at rodeos, interviewing clowns and bull riders (so cute and shy, and so young!) was perfect research for picking up on the nuances of speech, and gesture and attitude that I needed.
That brings up a good point. People are almost always delighted to talk about their lives and careers, and there’s nothing like those interviews for adding personality to a character. To those of you who are writers, don't be shy! It isn’t hard to find people who are willing to talk. Try your local sheriff….firemen…doctors….private investigators. Other great contacts can be tracked down through the Internet.
I’ve met the loveliest people that way! Ranch women. Fingerprint analysts. DEA agents (ending up doing a four book series on them!) Veterinarians, lawyers and funeral home directors (one of my books was set in that world.) But of course, my true love is the West…ranching and horses and those strong, independent men and women who live out there. I’ve written thirty books, now, many of them set in Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, and each time I start a book involving livestock, heroes wearing a Stetson, and the West, I feel like I’ve come home again. The fifth book in my Big Sky Secrets series for Love Inspired Suspense will be out in April, by the way.
I also love using the scenic country in Minnesota or Wisconsin, where WINTER REUNION, my November Love Inspired was set.
Three winners will be drawn from those of you who post comments--and will receive an autographed copy of a book of your choosing from those listed at my websites at www.roxannerustand.com or www.shoutlife.com/roxannerustand or www.booksbyrustand.com I have copies of most of my past releases but not all, so the winners should email several choices and I’ll do my best!
Happy trails to all of you!