I wonder how many of you remember and still listen to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band – big in the 70’s – great old-fashioned rock & roll – the kind of music that makes you want to jump on the back of a Harley and take off across the country with a burly, bearded biker. Yes, I, Rosanne Bittner, actually said that! Don’t most of us have that bit of a wild side way down inside that dreams about letting loose sometimes? Seger’s song “Roll Me Away” always wakes up that side of me. I close my eyes, put my head back, and I’m winding through the Rockies on a Harley, drinking in the awesome landscape and leaving all my cares behind me. If you’ve never heard that song, download it to your phone or MP3 or however you listen to music. Another good one is “Like A Rock,” where a man reminisces about when he was young and strong and feared nothing. Heck, all of Seger’s songs bring back memories of being young and wild – like his song about climbing into the back seat of a Chevy to make out.
My husband and I (ahem) can identify with that – and he was a muscled young man when we met and married – had a reputation clear into his thirties as being unbeaten at arm wrestling. He was also once one of those bearded bikers. We had a purple Harley Roadster (the kind where the front tire extends out in front of the bike). That was when we were both about 30 pounds lighter and my hair hung to my waist. That bike wasn’t the best model for long trips. If you rode it for very long, you arrived with a numb butt and unable to hear anything because the roaring engine caused a ringing that lasted for hours! But those were fun times and created fond memories.
I guess what I’m saying is there will always be that brave and wild side down deep that has always and will always affect my writing. I think it’s why I like to write about rugged men who wear guns and take no prisoners, and the kind of strong women it took to keep up with them – sometimes even tame them a little. Sorry, but short contemporary romances about babies and pets and running bakeries and flower shops do nothing for me. I’ll take a man in buckskins who carries weapons he damn well knows how to use – a man who can survive in the wilds and who won’t hesitate for one second when it comes to protecting his own, whether it be his woman, his child, his land or just his horse!
People who read my books will see a lot of similarities in my heroes. I try to write short to average height heroes with blond hair, but they always ends up tall and brawny and dark. And if Native American blood runs in their veins, that’s even better. The hero in the book I am currently working on is – yes – tall and brawny, but he has sandy hair and blue eyes. That’s unusual for me, but I figured I had to give it a change once in a while. Still, he has all the qualities of all my heroes. He’s a lawman/vigilante without an ounce of cowardliness in his blood and yes, he takes no prisoners. (Well, when he does, they end up getting hung!) Woe to the man who threatens or abuses the heroine in this story, because he’ll have to answer to Mitch Brady, and no man in this little gold town in Montana wants to do that. This “work in progress” is called DESPERATE HEARTS, and right now it’s scheduled for July 2014. Of course I have to finish the book first, but I’m working hard at it. I know all you Bittner fans will enjoy it.
The wisdom and common sense that come with age cause us to bury that wild part of our hearts, but it’s still there. It’s just that at 68 a person begins to think of ways to keep from risking life and limb (like getting on the back of a Harley)! Now I think about watching where I walk, drive an SUV because I feel safer in it, and I do what I can to preserve what is left of my strength and energy and health (which happens to still be excellent), mainly because I want to be around for as long as possible for my 3 grandsons. I’m sure they could get along without me, but I like to think they couldn’t. Right now they are young enough to also think so, but I know the day is coming when visiting grandma will be the last thing on their minds; but I still want to “be here” for them just in case they need me, especially with the way things are in the world today.
Getting old is difficult to describe to younger people, because most of them think they will never be that old. It’s always something far off in the future that they can’t begin to imagine. I was thinking the other day about when my father died in ’91. My mom seemed so old to me then, and I thought she’d need taking care of. Then when I figured out her age at that time, I realized SHE WAS MY AGE!! I don’t think of myself as old at all as far as living an active life and being perfectly capable of handling my own life. I’m busy and full of energy and have absolutely nothing wrong with me and no aches and pains (yet). I feel very blessed in that respect. But when I realized mom was my age when dad died, it really hit me how my grandchildren, and probably even my sons, see me as an old woman. On the inside, I’m not old at all, and certain songs carry me right back to when I was physically young and vital – back to when I could turn a 24 hour day into a 48 hour day because of all the things I could get done. I could write a book about the kind of days I used to put in when I worked full time and my boys were little.
I’m rambling here. My intention was to address that “wild side” in all of us and (for those of you who want to write) how you can use those urges and fantasies to create kick-ass characters. A lot of people tell me that my characters are so “real” that they want to know if they really lived. I think that’s because when I am writing, I AM the heroine – sometimes even the hero. I don’t write from the outside looking in – but from the inside looking out at the world as it was at that time … and I am still young enough on the inside to know how those younger characters would think and act and behave and love. When I write, I am not “telling” or “watching” the story. I am “living” the story. That’s what makes memorable characters.
Yes, this old gal might spend a lot of time in her back yard enjoying her new rose garden and the peace it brings, but sometimes when she closes her eyes, she’s flying along a winding road through Colorado or Wyoming or Montana on the back of a Harley. Maybe she’s even walking across the prairie, admiring the rugged, buckskin-clad guide who is taking her through dangerous country. For all you younger readers, don’t underestimate what’s going on in the back of grandma’s or grandpa’s mind. Yes, they were young once, and they might look old on the outside, but they never change on the inside! “Young at heart” isn’t just a phrase to be used in a song. It’s a state of being.
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Publishers Weekly Review
"This Western historical is chock-full of danger, with families set on a vendetta, the threat of Emma’s stepfather, and the daily demands of Mitch’s job, but Emma is no wilting lily, proving she is a match for Mitch in every way."
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