Sunday, June 12, 2011
Using what I know in a story
This story came to me after I was bemoaning the fact historical westerns were on a downward trend and a friend told me to write a contemporary western. I didn’t think I could, but on the way home form a writing meeting I was listening to a radio talk show and they were discussing the fact a child had ordered a bunch of things via the internet using their parent’s credit card and the parent’s didn't know about it until the items arrived at the house.
And click! A light went on. What if a twelve year-old girl tired of taking care of her little brother and the house work hired a nanny pretending to be her father.
That’s how Perfectly Good Nanny starts. With the nanny arriving at the ranch and Brock not having a clue why the woman is there. The ranch is two hours from the nearest town and isolated.
Brock Hughes is a typical Oregon high desert rancher. His livelihood depends on the weather and predators both four legged and two legged. At the start of the book he has loans coming due from his first wife’s medical bills and his ex-father-in-law is trying to get custody of his twelve-year-old daughter. The nanny is actually what he needs to keep his daughter and give him more time to devote to his ranch. But even if he could afford to keep her he knows she’s a city girl and just like his second wife who gave him a son and his mother, the isolation of the ranch was too much for someone not born and raised in this god forsaken country.
To show Carina’s citified attitudes and her stubbornness, I have a scene in the book where a cow is down and they have to use a pickup to pull it out of a ditch. This scene was written about three days after my husband and I used a tractor to pull a pregnant cow out of a small irrigation ditch(no water) where it had rolled onto its back and couldn’t get up.
Perfectly Good Nanny was a fun book to write where I could use my own experiences and the feelings of people I know to show the exhilaration and heartache of ranching.
I think when you can blend your knowledge with the make believe characters in a story it rings true in your writing.
Keep an eye on my blog and you’ll learn when Perfectly Good Nanny is available.