Romance author Leigh Duncan spent years moving about the country, but now calls Central Florida’s east coast her home. Rancher’s Son, her fourth book for Harlequin American Romance is a December release. Rodeo Daughter, was an RT Magazine Top Pick! for June 2012 and will be re-released in a Larger Print edition for the sight-impaired on November 1st. Leigh is a long-time member of Romance Writers of America and serves as the published author (PAN) liaison for the Space Coast Authors of Romance (Florida STAR). She belongs to several other RWA chapters, including the Washington Romance Writers, and is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America on-line women’s fiction chapter. To learn more about her, visit www.leighduncan.com
Where Did You Come From?
It’s fall in Florida, but you’d never know it from looking at the thermometer. At our house, the air conditioner runs full time. In fact, an influx of migratory birds is the only sure sign that summer is on the wane. Yesterday, an enormous hawk landed in our front yard. The day before, a flock of red-headed woodpeckers took over the trees. Within the next week or two, this year’s robins and butterbutts will fill my back yard. They make the most delightful racket.
With all these visitors, I’ve been asking, “Where did you come from?” But I’m not always talking about the birds. Most often, I’m talking about heroes and heroines.
Where do they come from?
Every writer must figure out what drives their books. Some authors are plot-driven. Others, action-driven. My stories begin and ends with the characters so I’m fairly safe in saying they are character-driven. And because I write romance, I usually “see” the hero or the heroine first.
How does that happen?
When I least expect it. I’ll be shopping, cleaning, cooking—whatever—and realize I’ve been thinking about, or even having a conversation with, someone I’ve never “seen” before.
That’s how Rancher’s Son came to me. I looked up from my computer to catch a mental image of a cowboy moseying along on horseback behind a herd of cattle. At the time, I was knee deep in edits for another book, so I just gave him a nod and went back to work. For the next couple of weeks, though, he kept popping in. Each time, he revealed a little bit more about himself.
I learned he was strong, opinionated, ruggedly handsome. That his ranch had been in his family for four generations. Okay, so now I was really starting to like this guy. But then he said his ranch was in Florida.
I have to admit, I was skeptical.
It took some digging, but I learned that Ponce de Leon brought the first cattle to Florida—seven head of Andalusians. Despite mosquitoes and floods and heat, people have been ranching here ever since. Today, Florida is home to over a million head of cattle. It’s the third-largest beef-producing state east of the Mississippi.
Okay, so back to my hero. Finding just the right girl for him and making him work hard to earn her love, that became my job. But I didn’t go easy on him. He had to prove he was strong enough, honorable enough, to have his heart’s desire.
Did he pass the test?
You’ll have to answer that question for yourself.
As for me, lately someone else has snagged my attention. A baseball player, a pitcher. But I think there’s a lot more he needs to reveal about himself before I can sit down and write his story.
I hope he does. I think I’ll like him, too.