Guest blog by Gail MacMillan, author of Counterfeit Cowboy
I’m a world class dog and horse fancier. Since my earliest memories I’ve loved and admired these animals. Therefore, it’s no surprise that both frequently appear in my stories and romance novels. In fact, my fascination with horses led me to follow a lifelong dream I’d never been able to previously achieve.
At the venerable age of fifty, I began to take riding lessons. No, there’s no amazing story to follow. I didn’t go on to compete in the Olympics. In fact, I barely managed to learn to stay in the saddle at a modest lope on a mare that definitely had to be at the top of her class in gentleness and patience. But it did plant the seed of an idea for a story, one I’d later entitle, “Counterfeit Cowboy.”
Then other forces came into play to push the plot further. In the course of writing dog stories, I met via e-mails an amazing British Columbia rancher. Both of us having intense interest in dogs and horses, we became long distance friends. (I live on the east coast of Canada, she lives on the west.) When one especially beautiful little filly was borne on her ranch, she allowed me to name her. I chose to call her Fancy and through e-mails and photos, Fancy became a special part of my life. With her silver mane and tail and charcoal body, Fancy was breathtaking beauty on the hoof as she ran wild and free in the mountains of northern British Columbia. One day when she was mature, she’d come back to the ranch buildings where she’d been borne and begin her life under saddle and bridle but until then she was a free spirit.
Fancy had only just passed her second birthday when a horrific ranch accident claimed her life. I was devastated. Beautiful Fancy would never again race through the mountains with her herd. She’d never grow up to belong to my friend’s granddaughter and win at gymkhanas. Her memory had to be honored.
Fancy’s death caused that seed of an idea of writing a romance set on the horse farm where I’d taken riding lessons to begin to germinate and sprout. My long-suffering instructor became its heroine who had to teach a country music star who couldn’t ride a carousel to handle a horse within a six week time frame for his movie debut as a cowboy. A fictional Fancy would play the starring role of most beautiful mare on the farm.
Although she’s no longer with us in body, her spirit gallops gracefully through the pages of “Counterfeit Cowboy” and (I hope) into the hearts of readers. This book is my tribute to her.