I didn't grow up with the rodeo. Oh, I think my family got tickets to the rodeo maybe once when I was growing up, but it wasn't a typical event for us. And though I loved riding horses (even went to "horse camp" one summer), we never owned horses or any livestock, for that matter.
So every Labor Day weekend, we schlep halfway across the state to the rodeo. There are cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends and...the list goes on. It's like a family reunion, but with horses and bulls in the background.
And I love it.
We have a great time, hanging out together, while someone always writes down the stats for each ride, and the cousins try to get the attention of the rodeo clowns, and I take surreptitious photos of the cowboys (for research purposes, of course). I pull the cowboy hat out of storage and wear it with pride.
So I've wanted to write a book set at the rodeo for quite a while now. And a few years ago, a story caught my attention. Some of the long-time attendees from our group were talking about the year a rider went down on the "suicide run" and ended up getting killed. My heart ached for the family of that rider, who may have been there to see it happen, as the participants in this race were usually locals.
And that's how Sam Quincannon came into being.
As for Cody, well, I think it was the abundance of Wranglers that inspired his character. ;)
I didn't grow up with the rodeo, but my kids are, and I wouldn't have it any other way.