Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tracy Garrett: Spurs, Boots and Good Men

by Suzanne Welsh
Tracy Garrett loves a good man, especially one wearing boots and spurs. In fact, she loves those strong heroes so much, she writes about them in her historical western romances. So naturally while sitting on her balcony overlooking the atumn changes around The Lake of the Ozarks, our conversation turns to her newest book, TOUCHED BY LOVE.

Tracy, TOUCHED BY LOVE is your second Historical Western romance. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I'll let the back cover blurb do the talking:


Jaret Walker is a loner, a gun for hire with a heart of ice. He's never had anyone to call his own, and he likes it that way. But when a promise made to a friend leads him on a ride through the desert and to remote Two Roses Ranch where he meets Isabel Bennett, the woman he's supposed to protect, all he can think of is making her his. She's the kind of woman a rough-riding cowboy like him can never have. But her hot gaze tempts him like no other woman has before...

The moment Isabel Bennett lays eyes on Jaret Walker, she remembers the dreams she's denied for so long. She's sworn never to marry. It's the only way to protect her ranch. But when Walker rides into her life, she decides to let herself taste what she's giving up-a passion that burns through her with each kiss-and a desire that won't be denied...

Touched by Love, coming November 4, 2008, from Zebra Historical Romance.

In the beginning of TOUCHED BY LOVE there's an interesting opening scene centered around a Mexican prison. Was this a real place?

Perote Prison was a real place. Originally a castle, it was built by the Viceroy of Mexico in the late 1700s 7000 feet up the mountains overlooking the port of Vera Cruz. It was intended as an ammunition storage facility and a military training school, and as a second line of defense for Vera Cruz. The Mexican Army used the huge fortress to keep both military and political prisoners. Texans captured during three disastrous expeditions against Mexico were incarcerated and died within its walls. The shell of the building still remains, but photos are allowed only by special permit. [Photo by J. J. McGrath & Walace Hawkins, "Perote Fort- Where Texans Were Imprisoned", Volume 48, Number 3, Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online]

When I needed a place for Isabel's brother to be taken, I began searching for prisons in Mexico and found this place. The location was ideal-and it has two macabre stone figures guarding the bridge.

Jaret Walker (big sigh!) is my idea of a cowboy hero. In fact I envisioned the early John Wayne character while reading this. Was there anyone you had in mind as you wrote it?

I never have a specific actor in mind when I write, but Jaret has a lot of the stubborn honor that John Wayne's characters always showed, with a liberal dose of Clint Eastwood tough-guy thrown in. Mmmm...Clint....

The women who helped settle the American West were made of strong stuff and in TOUCHED BY LOVE, Isabel is the backbone of her ranch. What made her so determined to hold on to it?

Isabel takes the legacy of the ranch very seriously. The land has been passed from mother to daughter through several generations, and she believes it is her responsibility to maintain it for the next generation. Besides, she loves the rough, harsh land-it's a part of her soul.

Even though western historical romances have been quiet for a few years, they're starting to make a comeback in the market place. What about the western do you think appeals to romance readers?

There is something about a loner-a man who lives and works alone for weeks or months at a time-that seems to tug at our protective instincts. A cowboy, lawman, gunslinger-it doesn't seem to matter what they do, we love the dark, handsome heroes. The resurgence of westerns at the movies and on TV is evidence. Deadwood, 3:10 to Yuma, Seraphim Falls, Tombstone, Missing. I've seen the trailers for Appaloosa and it's on my must-see-soon list! Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen in boots and spurs? Be still my heart.

Do you think these heroes translate in to contemporary characters? How?

Absolutely, whether the setting is "western" or not. I think the qualities of honor, duty and good-guys-win are timeless. The romance hero always has a strong sense of right & wrong, does what is necessary despite personal insult or injury, and looks darn good in a cowboy hat. lol

Before we head out on the boat to tour the Lake, I have one more question. Is there another western in your future?

I certainly hope so! I'm in the middle of writing Wolf's story [he was the tracker in Touch of Texas who was searching for his kidnapped children]. And I have several other characters standing around in my office waiting for a turn to tell their stories.