- by Patricia Rosemoor
McKenna is a family name through my maternal grandmother. When I decided to write a family series, I thought it would be fun to use family names and traits for some of my characters. I created three families, each with three siblings, three being a magic number in those books—within 33 days after their 33rd birthday, my McKennas would find love. And danger, of course.
Ironic that at the same time I chose to pay tribute to my mother’s family, so did a first cousin once removed and an uncle by marriage. They both created family trees with lots of interesting details about the McKennas that I could use. Fun stuff.
Writing the first three McKennas was fun, too, especially TOUCH ME IN THE DARK, book three. That’s when my late husband Edward and I drove to the Black Hills in South Dakota to do some research on a mustang refuge. The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary was the model for the Bitter Creek refuge in that story and in this month’s STEALING THUNDER (which celebrates Harlequin Intrigue’s 25th Anniversary) as well. We slept in “Dances with Wolves” teepees, were awakened by a herd of wild mustangs just after dawn, and went out in a truck to visit the wild herd in person.
The refuge was founded and run by Dayton O. Hyde, a rancher and author who fell in love with the wild mustangs, when as a teenager he took a train out west to work on his uncle’s ranch and saw the wild herd. He turned land in South Dakota that no one else wanted into a refuge for the mustangs rounded up by the BLM for sale. Only these horses never sold and their fate was to spend the rest of their short lives in a feed lot. When Dayton brought them to the refuge so they could live out their lives in dignity, he found they thrived beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
To me, Dayton O. Hyde was and is a real life hero, and I was inspired by the man’s grit and spirit and philosophy when I created Chase Brody, hero of TOUCH ME IN THE DARK.
So do you have a “real life hero”?