Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is Western Historical Romance Dead?

I love Historical Westerns Romances. I love to read them, and I love to write them. However, ever since I got back to writing after a three year hiatus a year ago this past April, I've wondered if the Historical Western Romance was dead. The reason I've asked myself this question is because throughout the years, to my great disappointment, I've been told over and over that they were dead. Long gone. Zip. Zilch. Pouf. But I wrote one anyway. Did I waste my time? I don't think so. And I'll tell you why. First off, what woman doesn't love a strong, sexy Cowboy in tight jeans and leather chaps? Who doesn't love the romanticism of the American Cowboy and the Wild West? You just can't resist it. According to traffic and activity on the western romance sites I frequent, Love Western Romance, and Petticoats & Pistols, the western isn't dead. Oh, no. Just the opposite. It's alive and well. Just take a look at either of these two sites and you'll see. They're chock full of Western Romance info and trivia. New releases, author spotlights, you name it. And check out this Jessica Faust Q&A session I snipped a month or so back from the Bookends blog:

Q. Are there any publishers out there besides Harlequin, Dorchester, and Kensington looking for historical western romance books? Why do those houses seem to have a corner on these types of books?

A. Interesting question because in fact I just had lunch last week with an editor at a house that was not Harlequin, Dorchester, or Kensington who would love to see more historical western romances. The trick is rising above what has traditionally been called historical western. To do this I think you have to make your book stronger and different and bigger. There are a lot of editors out there who love this genre and would love to buy in it, but to break in you really need to write something that transcends everything else. Because that’s an easy task [she says sarcastically].

Good news, right? It is for us Western Romance lovers. :) When I first put pen to paper eight years ago, I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I knew what I loved and I knew what I wanted to read and before long, I began plotting my very first Historical Western Romance, Dangerous Desires, which takes place in 1866 Texas and Mexico. But how and why did I decide to set it during that time? What did I know about this time period? I'll admit, at first, not much. Of course I knew this was just after the Civil War, but what else was happening? I didn't have a clue. I wanted something different for my story. I knew I had a LOT of research to do. I found there are quite a few things happening around this time. In fact, I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted my characters, Mairan O'Donnell and Travis Morrison aka Santa, to be involved in! So I read...and read...and read until finally, I found just the little piece of history I was looking for. There wasn't a lot of American History involved, but there was a lot of Mexican history. Did you know that in 1861, during the Civil War, Mexico was was involved in their own Civil War? France had invaded Mexico and, to the horror of the Mexican people, installed the Austrian Prince Ferdinand Maximilian and his beautiful wife Carlotta, on the Mexican throne. Maximilian had good intentions, but the Mexican people wanted to elect their own leader. They didn't want a foreigner as Emperor. Then a little Indian man named Benito Juarez and his band of rebels, the Juaristas, fought to overthrow the intruders, and with a little help from President Abraham Lincoln, , they won. The French realized the American Civil War was coming to an end, and since the American President, Abraham Lincoln sympathized with the Juaristas and helped them with money and arms, the French figured they'd better split. They moved their troops out of Mexico pronto. Exciting, isn't it? I think so. So when I decided on this part of history to use for my novel, I made sure there was lot's of action and plenty of romance. I bet you could think of a few different plots from this little piece of history, couldn't you? :) Westerns are what I love. To read. To watch. To write. Over and over through the years I've heard the advice, write what you know; write what you love. And that's what I did. That's what I'll always do. I may throw in a contemporary Western here and there, because hey, a cowboy in a pair of tight jeans is a cowboy in a pair of tight jeans, :) but historicals are my first love. And Dangerous Desires is what came out of that love. Whether or not it's something other's love, well, time will only tell. So, do you like Historical Western Romance? If so, what do you like about them? Do you think they're dead and buried or do you think they're making a come back? Come on folks, what do you think? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

*Dangerous Desires has been rescheduled for publication. It will be available in digital format soon, and then in print sometime in the winter of 2009. Watch for it!


Anne Carrole said...

Thanks so much for your gracious mention of Love Western Romances! And here, here for the return of western romances. Did you see the article in Romantic Times October issue on "How the West was Won!"

Best of luck on your book release. Mine is coming out October 3--not an historical--but a contemporary western with a hero that has a lot in common with the men of the old west! All the Best!

Carol Burge said...

You're very welcome, Anne! LWR is one of my fav sites!

I don't have the RT October issue yet, but I'm looking forward to the ariticle. Thanks for the heads up!

And best of luck with your upcoming book release, too! I know your excited, as the 3rd is right around the corner! Woo-hoo!