Don’t you just love rogue secondary characters? While writing my first western romance, Blackest Heart, I thought I had secondary characters under control. That is until my critique partner practically begged me to write the story of at least one of the heroine’s older brothers. I’m a firm believer in giving strong secondary characters a satisfactory story of their own. The whole western romance venture had been somewhat of a writing experiment. Not only had I never written a western, I had never written a novella. Stepping out of my comfort zone paid off. Blackest Heart was quickly contracted by my publisher for their new western line, the 1st Place Novella in the 2009 More Than Magic Contest, and the subject of most of my fan mail. Writing against the western backdrop with characters as rich as the Ridge family siblings was also sinfully fun. I decided my CP was right and a short jaunt back to West Texas through the eyes of my muse and western characters was in order.
My CP dropped heavy hints that she wanted to see Stella’s “good boy” brother Casey find love. Probably because I drop not-so-subtle hints in Blackest Heart that he has a thing for the “bad girl” of Wayback, Josie Brusky. Writing Casey’s story (Bluest Heart) taught me a lesson about writing the so-called “bad” character. Josie saunters into Blackest Heart with a reputation. Confronting that in Bluest Heart was a daunting process. None of my previous heroes or heroines came into their respective stories in a negative light. The contrasts between Josie and Casey, however, fell to the wayside within the first few chapters of the first draft. On the page, they automatically clicked despite the conflict surrounding them. Much of it has to do with their tender backstory and underneath the reputation Wayback has built around Josie and her family lies a heroine readers sympathize with.
When my western editor contracted Bluest Heart, I found it increasingly hard to sleep at night knowing that the oldest Ridge brother, Keefe, was the only one of his siblings who didn’t have a story of his own. The process of converting him from the “playboy of Wayback” to hero material was a challenge, one that I couldn’t resist. While Josie’s like tendencies were a struggle to morph into the role of heroine, Keefe turned out to be a blast—probably because I threw the bad boy a curveball in the form of Stella’s Yankee talent agent, Calli Morlani. Keefe, the bronc-busting cowpoke, allowed me to explore the sexy cowboy hero one more rip-roarin’ time from a fresh angle, rounding out the Ridge trilogy in an exciting way with Bet it on my Heart!
I do miss spending writing time with those Ridges, but they are available as both ebook and audio books from The Wild Rose Press, Kindle, Nook and AudioLark. Blackest Heart is also featured in the paperback anthology, The Way Back Home, along with two other western romance novellas….
Thank you for hosting me and the Ridges here, Anna Kathryn! Looking forward to sharing a western-themed recipe on Wednesday. Until then, I’ll leave you with the book trailer for Bet it on my Heart. For more on the Ridge trilogy, including bonus material and book trailers, visit me on the web at www.amberleighwilliams.com! Enjoy....
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