by Sara Luck
Today's guest at Romancing The West is Sara Luck, who has lived the life that other novelists write about. A retired school teacher, Sara taught in Alaska, 200 miles above the Arctic Circle. She has traveled to every state in the United States and has watched Bowhead Whales breaching in the Chukchi Sea, cavorting Dahl Sheep in the Brooks Range, leaping cutthroat trout on Oregon's McKenzie River, roaming grizzly bear and mountain lions in the Absorka Range in Wyoming, and dolphins at play from her beach home at Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Married to NY Times Best Selling novelist, Robert Vaughan, Sara has for over 30 years been Robert's research assistant, editor, librarian, sounding board, and story consultant. She now has several books published, the latest is Tallie's Hero from Pocket Books.
RTW: Welcome, Sara! To start us off, please tell us about your book.
SL: Tallie Somerset, an English novelist, is forced into a divorce by the scandalous behavior of her husband. She comes to America to attend the wedding of the sister of Lady Randolph Churchill and from there, goes to Wyoming for an extended visit. She is captivated by the American West, and by a handsome cattleman named Jeb Tuhill. He is equally taken with her, but he thinks she is still married because she is ashamed to tell him she is divorced. Tallie writes a novel of the West with Jeb as her hero . . .and all ends well.
RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Tallie's Hero?
SL: I have always loved the West, and my husband and I have traveled extensively through the West...often renting a place far from the nearest town and staying several months. We spent two months in Wyoming, and the beauty and remoteness of the area inspired the book, Tallie's Hero.
RTW: If you lived in 1881, what would you visit first? Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your research sources?
|Sara Luck, author|
SL: I think if I lived in 1881.... I would take a train trip across country. I would love to visit all the small towns which...while so small and so remote are, by railroad, connected to the rest of the country. It was the beginning of the "mobile American. I love research, I especially love newspapers and authentic diaries from the time I am writing about.
RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?
SL: My favorite Western novel and movie is Shane. I love the setting, I love the determination of the men and women who...despite hardship and odds, are bound to build a community. And I like the character Shane, who is quiet, and with a mysterious past. It is obvious that there is a very strong attraction between Shane and Marian, but there is too much honor between them for either to act. And, of course, I love the exciting resolution of the conflict, and the mysterious, into the sunset, denouement.
RTW: Why must Tallie take this particular story journey? What does she} have to prove? How does Jeb Tuhill affect her journey?
SL: Finding herself in the middle of a scandal, Tallie is forced to leave England and come to America. Her journey takes her to the Powder River country of Wyoming, where she meets, and falls in love, with Jeb Tuhill. At first, because of the tumult she left behind, the relationship seems only to complicate things. But love wins out.
RTW: Please set the scene for your excerpt.
SL: Moreton Frewen, an authentic person of history, invites his English guests to go on a hunt in the Big Horn Mountains. Buffalo Bill Cody and Jeb Tuhill act as guides for these hunts. When Moreton's wife, Clara, insists that she and Tallie go on the hunt, Jeb reluctantly acquiesces. This excerpt takes place on one of those hunts.
by Sara Luck
The grizzly bear was just coming out of the tree line, drawn by the smell of the buffalo’s blood.
“Don’t shoot!” Jeb said. “A shot from your rifle won’t stop him, and he could charge.”
Despite Jeb’s shouted caution, Boughton fired. Jeb saw a puff of dust fly up from the animal’s shoulder where the bullet hit. The bear roared loudly, then started running toward them. Tallie saw the bear and, instinctively, started to run. Her running got the bear’s attention, and he turned toward her.
Jeb had his big Hawken in his hands by now, but Tallie was between him and the bear, and he had no open shot.
“Tallie! Get on the ground!” Jeb shouted. “Get on the ground!”
Boughton stood frozen, watching the bear advance toward Tallie, while Clara was screaming hysterically. Tallie continued to run, but the bear was closing on her.
“Fall down, Tallie! Do it right now!” Jeb yelled, his rifle on his shoulder, ready to shoot as soon as Tallie was clear.
Jeb knew that Tallie’s natural instinct was to run, but he was counting on her to be courageous and, he hoped, to trust him enough to do something counterintuitive.
Tallie fell to the ground, but it was almost too late. The bear was upon her just as Jeb fired. Jeb’s bullet was perfectly placed and penetrated the skull sending blood, brains, and bone spewing from the head. The bear fell, collapsing with Tallie partially under its dead body.
“Tallie!” Jeb shouted, running to her. She was lying facedown, her arms covering her tucked-in head. Jeb rolled the bear carcass off her, seeing her coat ripped and bloodied. His heart was pounding rapidly as he knelt beside her, saying over and over, “Don’t die, Tallie, please don’t die. I’ve just found you and I don’t want to lose you. I love you.”
When he gently turned her over, he was surprised to see a smiling Tallie looking up at him.
“Do you mean that? Do you really love me?”
He knelt to kiss her and held her to him. “I do, Tallie. I do love you.”
RTW: What’s next? Is Tallie's Hero a part of a series?
SL: Rimfire Bride is next. It is not part of a series...as were Susanna's Choice, Claiming the Heart, and Tallie's Hero, it is a stand alone.
RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?
SL: The thing I like most about writing historical fiction, is finding authentic characters and situations from history, to interact with my fictional characters.
Want a Free Book?
Tell Sara what you love most about western romance--what little tidbits enhance a story for you? What types of storylines do you prefer?
One commenter wins reader's choice of print or digital copy of Tallie's Hero. Be sure to include your email address so we can get in touch with you if your name is drawn.
Small print: Drawing will be held Saturday, January 19th, at 9pm Pacific Time. Winner will be notified by the email provided in the comment. USA mailing only.
Extra special thanks to Sara for visiting with us today!