History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

08 March 2007

Mustang Wild

By Stacey Kayne

Available Now from Harlequin Historicals

"This strong debut is a tale of one woman's struggle to overcome a father's deceit before she can find peace, forgiveness and passion with the man meant for her. Each character carries his or her own weight, adding depth and humor to this honestly written story."
—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

No smooth-taking man is going to outwit her!
With the deed to her land and kid brother to protect, Mustanger Skylar Daines shouldn't have tangled with the likes of Tucker Morgan. His stolen kiss scatters her senses, and quicker than a whirling dust devil, they're wed!

What had started as a joke is now Tucker's worst nightmare. He's keen to fix the marital slip-up--then he tells Skylar the deed she holds belongs to him, and him alone. Perhaps Skylar shouldn't be so fast to have their marriage annulled. She's not about to be swindled out of the one thing she yearns for most--a home.

First they'll have to beat her father's murderer to Wyoming. Hearing the killer is after his ranch, Tucker teams up with a woman who has no trouble taking control of his mustangs--or his desire.

Hello Hoydens! Thanks for inviting me over.

Mustang Wild is set in the American West of 1880. How did you become interested in this time period?

An American History college course was a major catalyst in my writing aspirations, and essentially chose my genre for me. Heading back to college, I had just bought my first computer. While sitting in my history class, my visual brain steeped in facts and images of the American West, my mind began its usual wandering. With a computer at my disposal, I decided to try and type out my daydreams. Halfway through my history course, my first historical western romance novel was born.

What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?

The Wild, Wild, West…..what’s not to love? J In a lawless untamed setting, the sky is the limit—that’s what I love about westerns. Rugged, dusty, wild, resilient--there’s such an elemental connection between the setting and the characters. My mind is constantly searching for ways to submerge my characters in the beauty and grandeur of the American West. While writing my first western, Bride of Shadow Canyon, I discovered that an adventurous setting with ever-changing untamed scenery was a driving force of my imagination.

One challenge has been to find accurate maps of the terrain during my time period, figuring distance, settlements, and the amount of time required for travel. One of the most useful sources I’ve found are actual diaries of early pioneers, from online sites and published journals. Many give detailed accounts of days on the trail between military forts and the perils faced in between.

What do you like to read?

I love to read rich historical westerns, of course. I have a keeper shelf full of Garwood, Lowell, Spencer, Miller….just finished a wonderful western by Cheryl St. John. I also enjoy contemporary romance with some edge to it—I like heroes with a sense of old-fashioned justice J. I’m currently reading romantic suspense by Allison Brennon, Elizabeth Lowell and Roxanne St. Claire.

Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

For me, it starts with daydreaming. A book usually emerges in my mind as a funny or high-tension scene—no telling where that scene will end up in the book, because I do absolutely nothing in a linear fashion. Once I have a solid vision and vague idea for the course of the story, I start throwing down the bones of the book…for me, that’s dialogue. I’ll sketch out the major turning points of the story, roughly one hundred pages of nothing but dialogue and a few placement tags here and there. Once I have a solid flow for the story and the voice and personality quirks of my characters, I’ll start fleshing it out until I end up with what I like to call—the chunky stuff. At this point, I start to mold and merge, bridging the chapters together and brushing in the scenery. I clean as I go---by the time I write the last word in the last scene (no telling what chapter that will be), the book is finished.

What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?

Mustang Wild started with the hero. Tucker Morgan appeared in my mind lounged at a card table, good luck raining down on him in spades, and as the heroine observes, wearing a smile that can sweet-talk the spines off a prickly cactus. As charming as he is, I really wanted him to get knocked out with a skillet. (I’m easily entertained J) So, I had to come up with a scene requiring a skillet and an unconscious hero. Being a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy, Tucker needed a woman who could whip him into shape, and his mustangs too. Skylar took over from there.

Did you have to do any major research for this book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?

The two most time-consuming areas of research for Mustang Wild were mapping out their journey from New Mexico to Wyoming, and Skylar’s technique for breaking horses, or gentling them, as it were.

I love to plot a journey, study the different settings and landscapes and paint them into the book. I have this crazy fetish for almanacs, geographical charts and landscape picture books. For Mustang Wild and Bride of Shadow Canyon I created storyboards with clips of scenery, a clockwise evolution of the story through scenery changes. This way, no matter what area of the story I was writing in, I could glance up at the storyboard and have an instant visual for the terrain. Very useful---looks pretty on the wall too!

Writing a lady mustanger was a challenge—I wanted a realistic portrayal of my heroine breaking horses. I visited a few horse ranches in my area, spoke with trainers, watched quite a few horse training videos, and read a mountain of books. After writing the scenes, I asked the experts to read them, and make sure I wasn’t having my heroine do something utterly ridiculous--wildly impressive, yes, but then, she’s got mad horse skills.

You’re a former Golden Heart finalist, like several of the Hoydens. How did that experience contribute to your selling Mustang Wild?

If anything, The Golden Heart taught me perseverance. The very day I finished my first manuscript, Bride of Shadow Canyon, I mailed it off to the 2002 Golden Heart—and to my sheer astonishment, it finaled. Two years went by before I finaled again with my fourth manuscript, Mustang Wild. The year after that I double-finaled with a western historical and a new single title romantic suspense manuscript…all of those Golden Heart finals and NO SALE. But throughout those five years I learned to set goals, to give myself deadlines, to suck up disappointment, and above all, to keep writing. So all in all, the Golden Heart was a wonderful experience, and though it didn’t contribute directly to my sales, it did help me to become a better writer.

You’re next release is Bride of Shadow Canyon, and then another “Wild” book. Are these related, or are you working on two series?

These are two different series, my “Wild” series and “Bride” series.

Mustang Wild is available now. Maverick Wild will be released later this year, with a third “Wild” book to follow in 2008.

Bride of Shadow Canyon will be out in April. Bride of Vengeance will likely be out in early 2008. Updates for official titles and release dates will be posted to my website: http://www.staceykayne.com/


Blogger Unknown said...

Wow, Stacey, you must be crazy busy. This book sounds so amazing. I love western settings (DEADWOOD!!!) and I grew up around horses, so this book is a must for me.

Your writing process is so alien to me. LOL! I love hearing how other people do it. It's never the same way any other writer does.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Stacey Kayne said...

Thanks Kalen!

I WISH I could write linear...there are many, many days I hate my skatter-shot way of writing. I'm amazed by those who can keep it all in order and fill in all the words as they go. I'm just too impatient---or my characters are too gabby ;-)

3:01 PM  
Blogger Jolie Mathis said...


Love your cover, and the book sounds great! I can't wait to read it.

I'm the same -- I can't write linear! I wish!

3:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm amazed by the idea of writing pages and pages of dialogue. So much of my writing is internal, body language, etc. It’s about the silent conversation that takes place between the quirk of a lip and the raising of a brow. About where/how one character stands or moves in relation to another. I often have to go back and rewrite scenes to put in more actual dialogue! LOL!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Kristi Cook said...

I'm pretty sure I judged one of Stacey's manuscripts in a contest--and LOVED it! So I can't *wait* to get my hands on Mustang Wild!

3:49 PM  
Blogger Stacey Kayne said...

Thanks for the cover compliment, Jolie! I was stunned and elated when it came out exactly as I'd described--completely capturing the essence of my heroine.

And talk about great covers, you've sure got a winner--The Sea King is hot ;-) Great book too! *g*

6:04 PM  
Blogger Stacey Kayne said...

LOL, Kalen! We'd probably work well together as a writing team...I have the floating voices for your quiet characters ;-)

I'm constantly telling my CP "Almost done, I just have to make them move!"

6:07 PM  
Blogger Stacey Kayne said...

Hi Kristina!

Yep--you judged Mustang Wild! Then titled An Angel's Kiss. You helped me final in the Golden Heart--THANK YOU!!

The year before I sold, I was telling my friends I needed a new title that shouted WESTERN! My pal Kim Duffy came up with MUSTANG WILD...she also came up with MAVERICK WILD, the second in this series...she's kinda handy to have around *ggg*

Do you guys have favorite manuscripts? Of the nine I've written, MUSTANG is still my favorite...although BRIDE OF VENGEANCE (2nd in my Bride series)is threatening to knock it from it's spot. Some books are just plain fun to write. Tucker was a blast. Sure hope he pleases the readers :)

6:15 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

ya gotta love a heroine who trains---what the heck, say it like they did in the wild west--a heroine who BREAKS her own horses!

Thanks for posting, Stacey.

7:01 AM  
Blogger robynl said...

an absolute winner of a cover and the story sounds very interesting.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have to admit, LORD SIN is my favorite book so far. It's the "book of my heart" as they like say. I love the others, too, just not quite as much.

8:07 AM  

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