I’ve traveled through a fair number of states in the past twenty years, often dragging the kids along on road trips. Hubby used to travel a lot for work, and if it was summertime, or the trip wasn’t for too long, he’d ask his employer if instead of them paying for a plane ticket they’d let him drive and cover his mileage. Which usually ended up cheaper than a plane ticket, especially since most of them were booked at the last minute. They generally said “sure.” So we’d pile the boys into the back seat and go on a road trip, often leaving a day or two extra in so we could add extra stops along the way. That’s how we ended up at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Ausable Chasm in upstate New York, or some caves near Hershey, Pennsylvania, and even the White House in DC on our way to North Carolina one year. Luckily when fellow Harlequin author Amy Ruttan and I decided to do a road trip to New Orleans for RT last year, Amy added in some extra time for our return trip and we got to tour Graceland and hang out on Beale Street.
But I think the trip that made the most impact on me was a trip I made to my first writers’ conference in Dallas back in 2007. Instead of staying at the conference hotel in downtown Dallas, I stayed at a critique partner’s house in nearby Arlington. One night I was standing on their dock on Lake Arlington, looking at the ritzy houses in the area when I wondered about the security they’d need – and soon I was picturing a heroine testing the security system, and lo and behold, the seed for Private Property was planted.
Later that week I went out to another critique partner’s place an hour to the south west – Becky breeds/boards/trains Arabian horses. The land itself was inspiring with its prickly pears and gully washed side roads. So was the heat, the huge rabbits, the real-life road runner, something I’d only seen in cartoons, even the food (I’d never had sweet tea or sweet potatoes before then—what pilgrim came up with the idea of putting marshmallows on them? Whoever it was, thank you and curse you all at the same time.) So in 2009 I couldn’t stop the idea of writing a heroine who rescued horses, and of course set it in Texas – and Texas Tangle (and its sister story Tangled Past) started unfolding.
The trip to Fort Worth’s stockyards stayed with me too – the cattle drive made it into Slow Ride Home, and a store where I bought my first cowboy hat and the bar we stopped into during that trip made it into No Accounting for Cowboys.
Now it seems I have fallen in love with cowboys and all things Texas, because even my latest series about firefighters is set in the Lone Star state.
I think it’s time for another trip to Texas…and Memphis (because I have a singing cowboy). And Banff (because Alberta has cowboys too). Can I add another trip to England too because …well, just because. (My bank account is whimpering…)