Writing About the Wild West by J. Arlene Culiner
For me, Western Romance doesn’t mean writing only about cowboys and ranches. My latest book, A Room in Blake’s Folly, is set in a semi-ghost town in Nevada, a place where rather odd characters live, the sort of people who have stuck it out despite all odds. In this clapboard, rusty trailer community, wooden doors tap in the wind, bare stalks scratch, country music whines, and eccentrics dish up tall tales, and suspicion.
Why am I fascinated by such a place? Because I love writing about odd characters and misfits, the sort of people who would never fit into neat houses with tidy gardens. My people are rebels, not by choice, but by character. Sometimes they’re ornery, nosy, or interfering, but I can guarantee they’re the real thing.
For me, a good story is also packed with information. When I finish reading a book, I want to have the satisfying feeling that I know more than I did when I started. And so it is with local history. In A Room in Blake’s Folly, we follow a town from its silver boom beginning to its dusty present day state. And as we do, we learn how things got that way. It’s all an exciting part of our history.
Of course, I also love writing about love as well as history, and a good romance book needs delightful characters, hope, pure delight, humor, and much tenderness. I promise: I’ll give you all of that.
A Room in Blake’s Folly
by J. Arlene Culiner
(published by The Wild Rose Press)
If only the walls could speak…
In one hundred and fifty years, Blake’s Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels,
scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town.
Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a
room at a long corridor’s end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once
caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations.
Trade Paperback ISBN 978-1-5092-4202-3
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-4203-0
It was a grim evening of icy rain and violent wind, but here inside the shop, with its soft lamplight, deep shadows, and velvety fabrics, life was cozy. Hearing the door open, Lucy looked up from her book. Saw Lance come in, stamp his shoes on the welcome mat.
“She’s not here,” Lucy said before he’d even asked. Just so he didn’t make himself too comfortable before being disappointed.
“I can see that.”
“And if the ‘she’ you’re referring to is Rose, I wasn’t looking for her.”
“Oh. Well, if you’re looking for Jonah and the others, everyone’s meeting up over at the Mizpah tonight. Some sort of powwow.”
“Sounds interesting, but I wasn’t looking for them either.”
“Then, let me guess. You’re here hoping to find just the right vintage dress because you want to change your style. Go in for something soft, silky, with a little swing to the skirt.”
Chuckling, he shrugged off his wet coat, hung it on the antique coat rack near the door. “As tempting as that sounds, I’ll check into it another time. Tonight, the reason I’m here is to see you.”
“Me?” She stared at him, lost for words. But not for long. She never did know how to keep her wise-ass mouth shut. “A real glutton for punishment, aren’t you.”
“Obviously.” He sat down on the chair opposite hers.
“Okay, Bud. Out with it. Why me?”
“For your conversational skills.”
“Give me a break.” She felt strangely flattered. Not that she’d let him know it.
“I’m serious. Talk to me. I’ve been taking care of sick animals all day long, inspecting herds of cattle, refusing to cheat on blood tests, arguing with a dishonest rancher, and fighting the weather. I decided that the best, most enjoyable antidote to a rough day like that would be to come see you.”
“And that’s because?” Damn. He even looked like he meant it.
“Because you make me laugh.”
“I’m the local clown?”
“No, Brunhilde. Because you’re interesting and totally irreverent. And because conversation with you never goes the way anyone expects it to.”
“Oh.” She stared at him.
“Don’t tell me you’re lost for words.”
“I am, actually.”
“Almost impossible, I’ll give you that.”
“Where are your dogs, by the way? I know you have three of them.”
“I bring them to Alice’s when I work here. As you’ve seen, they’re shaggy. Very shaggy. They shed so much that all the dresses in this place would look like fur coats if I allowed them in.”
“That would please customers.”
“Depends on how kinky they are.”
His snigger joined hers. “Okay, bad start. Let’s try and find some normal topic of conversation. What about spiders. I know you have a lot to say on that subject.”
“That’s normal conversation?”
“Still making my life miserable?”
She winked with something that looked too much like delight. “It’s fun, doing that.”
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, and storyteller, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.