Spoiler alert! Read this after you've read The Restless Wrangler.
The Restless Wrangler - Author's Note
When writing a series about five sons, I wanted to make each of their personalities different. Their strengths and weaknesses varied. And, well, every multi-sibling family always seems to have that one sibling that differs completely from the rest. Preston is that Colter son. As I mapped out the series, sketched the characters, and chose titles for the books, the title “Restless Wrangler” came to mind. It was the true inspiration for Preston’s character. I asked, what would earn a man that moniker?
By far, my favorite part of Preston’s story was his homecoming to the ranch as a changed man. The prodigal parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32 is dear to me as I spent my early twenties as a prodigal. Though the details of Preston’s story differ from my own, the feelings his character expresses matched my experience. The good news is that Jesus can redeem any broken part of our pasts if we let Him.
It was fun writing Hetty Clark’s character, such a strong woman who made a few mistakes that changed the direction of her life. Isn’t that how life goes? My primary inspiration for her character came from a few articles I read on the Sharlot Hall Museum’s online archives about the earliest rodeos (“Cowboy Tournaments”) in Prescott. It surprised me to learn that there were women’s events as early as 1889, though they were probably sidesaddle riding events and not bronco riding. The article even named the seven women contestants. None of them were named Hetty, but the name seemed to fit with other names of the period.
One of the more recent research tools I’ve discovered is the online archive for Chronicling America. On this site, you can search for newspaper articles from any town for any date. I found several articles specifically about the Independence Day celebration in Prescott from newspapers published in 1893, which advertised the Cowboy Tournament, baseball, horse races, bicycle race, shooting matches, ball, and more. Throughout the series, I’ve woven in different aspects of the celebration. Also, you may wonder why I include Independence Day in many of my books. It’s because this holiday and the rodeo have always been the event of the year for the town of Prescott, even to this day.
You may or may not have noticed that books 3, 4, and 5 overlap the timeline. Book 3 follows James’s story from 1891 to 1893. All of Deacon’s story in book 4 occurred during 1893. And Preston’s story spanned April 1893 to January 1894. The main reason I included Preston’s story in 1893 was because of the Ash Fork fire I wrote into book 3. I knew it provided the perfect catalyst for Preston’s “rock bottom” to motivate his life change.
I hope you enjoyed Preston and Hetty’s story.
Since I wrote in a surprise daughter for Will and Hannah in book 1, I’ve included Violet’s story as part of the Colter Sons Series. Read her story in: The Resilient Bride (Colter Sons Book 6).