We’re very happy to have author Tera Shanley with us today to talk about her rather varied writing career! Tera is the author of numerous titles, including her most recent, AN UNWILLING HUSBAND, available from Lyrical Press (a division of Kensington Publishing). Take it away, Tera!
What does turn of the century Wild West have in common with a zombie apocalypse? More than you’d think.
Writing Dystopian Romance and Historic Western Romance have always been my jam, and when asked what draws me to two seemingly dissimilar genres, the answer is simple. They aren’t so dissimilar. Top secretly, they are the same.
What makes a hero irresistible in your mind? Is it their ability to put others before themselves, or the self-inflicted honor code that governs their every decision? Is it their deliciousness while rainwater pours over their sexy face and drips from the ends of their perfectly mussed tresses? Oh, I’m right there with you. But imagine that hero placed in an apocalyptic situation where he is trying to get his team out alive, whatever the cost to him. Blood, sweat, tears, and intensity. Or put him in a dangerous Old West situation where field hands’ livelihoods depend on our sexy hero’s ability to control his trigger finger and make the hard decisions. The merit of a man is easily seen under pressure, and there is no shortage of that in Dystopian and Western Romance.
As a writer and fan of both genres, the heroine is what sells it for me. The Wild West is full of gun fights, outlaws, wilderness, stampedes, snake bites, critters that would greet you then eat you, with little medicine and lives dependent on the wet season’s rainfall. Summarized, it was a dangerous world back then. A world after the zombie outbreak? Nature would snatch the earth back without a second thought for the people who used to live there. Houses would go unpainted and uncared for. Foliage would take back the cities and the lucky ones, the ones who survived, would head for cover in areas where less danger existed: the wilderness. The backdrops to these genres wouldn’t look so different.
Some would argue it’s a man’s world but it’s not. The women strong enough to survive Dystopia, who are stubborn enough to take the wilds of Turn of the Century Dangerville head on, those are the heroines I enjoy exploring the most. The ones with that iron strength running their veins, who learn to adapt and defend themselves. The women who’ve learned through circumstance that waiting for a man to come rescue them is a risky gamble when they can save themselves right now. When they’ve been stripped of excess and been gifted an appreciation for the necessary, that’s when I connect with a heroine. And the women of the Wild West and the aftermath of the Z-poc are the toughest ladies I’ve ever read. They give everything to be with their men—to defend them, and support them—until they are a force to be reckoned with.
Survival mode tends to flesh out flaws, and I enjoy an imperfect cast of characters. In life and death situations, the mistakes that are made seem so much bigger when the fracturing world could fall apart so easily. And then there comes this point of vulnerability, and seeing it displayed in the brave women of these two genres is so satisfying.
Nothing is easy. Characters live by their weapons and adapt to danger in an almost constant rhythm. Heart pounding, breath stopping, you hang on your book friend’s ability to protect themselves and survive to the next page.
Why do I write Dystopian and Historic Western Romance? Because I want my hero and heroine to go through hell and back, side by side, to earn their happily ever after.
Plus the heroes in both genres are mind scorchingly hot.