Jul 16

Passion for the Wild West by Kathleen Lawless

I’m pleased to welcome another member of my RWA chapter, award winning author Kathleen Lawless.kathleen lawless2

Hi Anna.  Thanks for the opportunity to share my passion for the Wild West. I have a confession to make.  I love Cowboys.  I always have.  This infatuation could be due to hours of a misspent youth watching Rawhide and Bonanza.  Or perhaps it came about later, while researching the basic fantasies that form the backbone of most romance novels.  I was ecstatic to discover the ‘Cowboy Fantasy’ is alive and well with more people than just me.  As is the ‘Marriage of Convenience’, which I use a lot in my Western Historicals, along with ‘The Wounded Hero on the Run’.  But I digress.

The American West calls to me as a back drop for my historical romance novels for a variety of reasons.  For one, I’m a west coast girl through and through.  My forefathers arrived on the west coast in the 1870’s, and none of us who were born here since ever saw reason to leave. The land may have become more heavily populated in the last century and a half, but its general topography hasn’t changed.  Mountains, coastline, plains, rivers and forests are interspersed with huge tracts of raw land that remain untouched to this day.   I think about my ancestors who left Europe for the promise of a better life; the unknown of a new, young country.  I’m grateful to them for taking that chance.

Similar chances are taken by the strong, independent, and often impulsive heroines I write about.

callieshonorcover1The American West in the last half of the nineteenth century offers my heroines a chance to assert that independence, like the newly widowed Callie in Callie’s Honor, a woman alone, struggling to hang on to her home.  Hers is a Universal Theme that strikes a chord in many women today, following a death or divorce in the family.

Sometimes I invent a place for my stories, sometimes I use an existing city or area.  One of the dangers of writing in the past is getting so caught up in the historical research the story never gets told.  I try to avoid that trap by keeping my research as simple as possible.  Two of my favorite reference books from the dozens I own are: The Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800’s by Marc McCutcheon, and Writer’s Guide to Places by Don Prues and Jack Heffron.

Those early days of my imagination strike me as a time when anything is possible.  Fortunes were made and lost on the gold fields or in the gambling halls.  Squatters’ Rights made land free for the taking, a terrific opportunity for any hero or heroine prepared to work hard and follow their dreams.  The rules and government that dictated and often crippled society in other parts of the world didn’t exist in the west.  At least not in my books.delivermecover1

My characters have their own ideas of right and wrong, good versus evil, and deal with it on their terms.  Face, it, it wasn’t called the Wild West for nothing. Life was about conquest, survival, persistence, the merging or people and cultures, and the forming of new communities.  All ideal situations for my hero and heroine to find each other, work through their conflicts and differences, and eventually live happily ever after.

In Callie’s Honor my hero, Rafe, sets out to avenge his brother’s death.  On his terms.  Rafe is determined nothing will stop him, not even the feisty widow whose land is conveniently located next door to the men responsible.

anoraspridecover1In Anora’s Pride, my heroine Anora finds freedom in her tiny deception of being a married woman.  Her ruse only becomes inconvenient when a handsome new Marshall moves to town.  In Jesse’s eyes, Anora being married means hands off, despite their instant attraction to each other.

Deliver Me is a historical twist on one of my favorite movies, The Fugitive.  Maddy, my heroine, in a quest for adventure, joins forces with Jud, an accused murderer, going so far as to marry him in order to help him clear his name.

Until Dawn is set in my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, not quite the Wild West, but a city with its own colorful history, supplemented with stories told by my grandparents who were born here in the late 19th century.

I love writing Historical Romances.  It’s a genre where the reader, by the simple act of picking up the book, instantly suspends disbelief.  She easily forgets about her world and her woes in a tale where no one needs to empty the dishwasher or take out the trash, and adventure lies around every corner.  As an author, it’s fun to carry her away to a time and place where anything could, and often did, happen.  The customs of the day and the manner of dress might be different from today’s world, but people are still people.  They laugh, love, hurt and heal.  Celebrate and mourn.  They live life large.  And in the untamed wildness of the settling of the west, they do it all on a broad, colorful canvas of my imagination.

Kathleen Lawless is the award-winning author of over 20 novels and novellas.  She is a long-time member of Romance Writers of America and Thriller Writers.  Visit her website:  www.kathleenlawless.com, or find her on Facebook and say ‘hi’.



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  1. Jo-Ann

    I loved this post. Thanks for opening up your world and sharing your life as a writer of historical fiction. You made it come alive.
    Best Wishes

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks Jo-Ann. I was a little nervous writing my first blog, but I enjoyed it and am glad you did as well.

  2. Lana Williams

    Kathleen – I share your love of cowboys! Your books sound wonderful and I look forward to reading them!

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks Lana. Cowboys remains heroes in any time period. I also wrote about some modern-day cowboys, the Hardt brothers, in A HARD MAN TO LOVE and WICKED NIGHT GAMES.

  3. Judy Baker

    Hi Kathleen, I love the west too, and enjoyed reading your post. I too use the Writer’s Guide in Everyday Life – good book to have around.

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks for popping by Judy. I love reference books and I have tons. That one’s a fave. What else do you use.

  4. Vicki Batman

    Loved this post and reading about Westerns. And adore Victoria. The gardens were so loverly.

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks Vicki. Glad to hear you enjoyed visiting my home town.

  5. Jane Leopold Quinn

    Hi Kathleen. I too spent a lot of time watching western TV shows. My favorite became Nick in The Big Valley. Two of my first three books written are westerns and I’m determined to get them finished and out into the world soon. Thanks for sharing your books. Love your covers.

    1. kathleen lawless

      That was a great show also, Jane. And looking at your last name, let’s not forget Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman with Jane Seymour. I’m delighted you like the covers, my oldest son is an artist and he created them for me.

  6. Alice Valdal

    Hi Kathleen. Love your covers. That cowboy sillouette is a real grabber.

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks Alice, I was very happy with them as well.

  7. Melissa Keir

    You are so right about the west. Women were able to do things there that they couldn’t out east and I love that idea of freedom. Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself and your books.

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks for your comment Melissa. It’s fun to write that time period

  8. Christy Carlyle

    What a fantastic post! It’s clear you love history, romance, and writing about the west. I too love the period, and the notion of the opportunities and challenges of living in the old west hold a definite appeal. Thanks for sharing your passion for the period and western romance!

    1. kathleen lawless

      Dear Christy! Love your enthusiasm. I honestly had no idea what I was going to write about when I sat down that day, so I’m glad to hear it struck a chord with you

  9. Jodie Esch

    “Living large”, I love that phrase. For sure, the wild, wild West gives an author lots of opportunities to place their characters in challenging situations.

    All the best with these novels.

    And congrats for embracing the blog-a-sphere.

  10. kathleen lawless

    Hi Jodie, thanks for stopping by. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be. Anna is a great blog hostess

  11. Mimi Barbour

    Hi Kathleen,
    Your books look great on the blog and it was super interesting. I sometimes wish I had been born in those days – then I fill my dishwasher, do a load of clothes and drive to the grocery store LOL

    1. kathleen lawless

      Ah, yes! Fantasy is always so much better than reality. That’s why we write, right? Thanks for stopping by, Mimi. You’re an inspiration and your writing is terrific.

  12. Jacquie Biggar

    Hi Kathleen, Loved your post. I agree, I love cowboys too, 🙂 A few years ago I read This Calder Range by Janet Dailey and that hooked me for life on strong, gruff, cowboys. I look forward to adding your books to my keeper shelf.

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks Jacquie. Cowboys make great heroes in any time period.

  13. Pat Amsden

    Your books sound fascinating. I think we always want to be taken away to new worlds (or old in this case) where we can dream of a different life – while not actually having to chop wood or carry water!

    1. kathleen lawless

      Hi Pat. I couldn’t agree more. I like my modern conveniences. Anyone else remember typing on an old manual typewriter with a gallon of white out nearby?

      1. Elizabeth Carson

        White Out? Heck, I remember typewriter erasers. Talk about challenge!

        Thanks, it’s always fascinating to have a glimpse into other writers’ lives.

        1. kathleen lawless

          Indeed, Elizabeth. I bought carbon paper by the truck load to make copies of my precious manuscripts. Not so precious in those early day as, none of them sold. But part of the apprenticeship for sure.

  14. Lea Tassie

    Great article, Kathleen! When I was growing up I wanted to marry a cowboy. Or be one!

    1. kathleen lawless

      Thanks Lea. Where did you grow up?

  15. Reggi

    Hi Kathleen,
    Your books found intriguing. Always loved the grandeur of the old west with its strong men. Best of luck with the books. Reggi

  16. kathleen lawless

    Thanks Reggi. They were awfully fun to write.

  17. Geri

    Hi Kathleen,
    wonderful blog! I enjoy reading about cowboys too!

  18. kathleen lawless

    Ah, yes, Cowboy heroes rock! Time to create some more. Thanks for stopping by, Geri.

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