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Lady of the Law

Happy June!

I’m so excited for you to meet this month’s guest. She’s the president of Western Writers of America and is a fabulous storyteller, as you’re about to see in her account of Finding Inspiration. So hang on, you’re about to travel back in time. . . with Melody Groves and the Lady of the Law.

Gun belt buckled tightly around my hips, my hand hovers over the holster, itching to reach for my .22 Ruger. My compatriots, me and my posse who’d just robbed a bank, stand shoulder to shoulder. I spot a sheriff and whip out my weapon, feeling the cold steel in my hot hand. On Main Street, we face the “lawdogs,” mere feet in front of us. They sneer, demanding, “Give up! Hands up!”

            “Never!” I pull iron, aim, shoot.

            They do the same, gun smoke choking the air. Choking me. Choking them. Clouds of dust and smoke obscure my vision. Struck, the “bad guys” and me all sink to the ground, taking a deputy with us. We lie for a moment.

            Then, as the applause begins, we stand, ready to go toe-to-toe again in about an hour.

            For ten years, I was a member of the New Mexico Gunfighters Association, a group of Old West reenactors headquartered in Albuquerque’s Old Town. For ten years, I shot sheriffs, deputies, bad guys. I played a harpy wife that was a delight to portray. Gunfighting was my weekly opportunity to be “bad.” I loved it.

            Performing for tourists, giving them a taste of the “Old West,” inspired my characters in my fiction. My bad guys are almost over-the-top bad, truly awful. The good guys, while flawed, are essentially good—just like in real life.

            I love the openness of the West’s vast expanses—the terrain, the acceptance of various cultures that are inherent here in New Mexico, the hardiness of the people. It all inspires my writing. My characters generally are early twenty-somethings in the 1860-1870’s, when the West was young, open to development. In many ways, it still is.

            The idea that the West is new, a place to being again, propels my stories. Even today, the West serves as a jumping-off point for starting new lives, new identities. I know several people who have reinvented themselves here in the West.

            My fiction books are crowded with independent, forward-moving characters. And women were quite important in forming the West. My very fictional book, She Was Sheriff, set in 1872 northern California, follows the transformation of a 30-ish spinster who becomes a sheriff of a small town. In a short time, through much trial and error, she comes into her own as sheriff and realizes she’s her own woman. Lady of the Law, the sequel, expands on women’s roles and opportunities in a new world.

My characters inspire me as much as I inspire them.

So, what’s next? I’ll be starting on the (yet to be named) book after Lady of the Law, third in the trilogy sometime this summer. And this summer, my Nolan Brothers Ride Again trilogy will be published by Wolfpack Publishing. Set in Texas, 1871, the story follows three brothers who learn about themselves and grow into the people they want to be.

            Like we all should.

About Melody

Melody deeply loves the Southwest. As a native New Mexican, she explores ghost towns, rides horses, and traipses through the desert. Recently, she won the coveted WWA Spur Award for her book Before Billy the Kid and won a Will Rogers Gold Medallion for a magazine story about Billy’s mom. Author of three Western fiction series, The Colton Brothers Saga, Maud Overstreet Novels, and Nolan Brothers Ride Again, she also wrote five nonfiction books. Melody lives in Albuquerque.

Connect with Melody and Find Her Books

Melody Groves Website: www.melodygroves.net

Do you have any questions or comments for Melody? Drop them in the comments. She’d love to hear from you.

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  1. What a fun column today, Carmen and Melody! Melody’s books about a woman sheriff sound terrific. Such an appealing topic for historical fiction. I, too, love New Mexico and hope we can get there again not too far in the future. Maybe another WWA or WWW conference there? Thanks to both of you!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read Melody’s story, Julie! I’d love another conference in New Mexico. It’s so rich in history.