Monday, April 21, 2014

the desert as a setting


Desert Inferno came from several interests. Of course, one is my love of Southern Arizona. At the time I wrote it, I had never based a story there. Okay, maybe I had based an historical romance there. One of my early flaws in writing was not keeping a record of dates I wrote which stories. Since a book like Desert Inferno was rewritten several times before it was indie published in early December 2011, I wouldn't even know what date to have put on its origin. 

Besides my love of the desert and its mountains, I wanted to have a hero in the Border Patrol who I think get a lot of hassle for the work they do. They face situations that might just be turning back those who crossed the border without papers, saving those dying of heat or dehydration-- ill prepared for the Sonoran Desert, but that sometimes turns deadly because of who brings these people across. Keep in mind the smugglers of humans are also drug smugglers. Read up on what they do in Northern Mexico, and you get a taste of who they are. Researching what the jobs of the Border Patrol led to talking to some to better understand their work. 

I get it that some don't want us to have a border. They want to let in everyone who desires to come. But this isn't what the Border Patrol has as their charter as it stands. Even if they suddenly end all rules for immigration, there will still be the issue of smuggling in drugs that are currently illegal.

Another thing I wanted was to have an ugly hero. My gosh, you simply don't even see ordinary looking heroes. What's going on here as we know that heroic men come in all  body types! Still in all romances, the heroes are handsome. I might have one of the only ones out where the hero and others regard Jake Donovan as ugly. Not the heroine though. She sees him as rugged like the desert she loves so much.

My heroine was another fun part of this write. She is a landscape painter. I got to give her some of my own philosophy regarding painting and art. 

I set this one on a fictional ranch that had been originally settled by a character in another of my Arizona historicals. The O'Brians ended up with more books than I thought when I wrote the historical with an O'Brian as a secondary character.

So art, archaeology (yep archaeology and artifacts), border problems, ugly or beautiful, and a place I love for its beauty where it can turn dangerous very quickly. They were all why Desert Inferno got written.

Snippet from Desert Inferno:



Jake leaned against the bar and surveyed the room as was his wont. He never liked being in a room without knowing who else was there. "Strangers?" he asked Mac, gesturing toward three men sitting at a corner table.

"They come in Saturday night for the first time. Pachucos,” he said with a sneer.
Rachel glanced toward them. “They do look like toughs,” she agreed.
“Well, if they're looking for trouble, they won't be here long. I run a quiet, respectable place."
Jake looked more closely at the three men. They were Hispanic, roughly garbed, whispering to themselves and gesturing toward the bar.  Their eyes appeared to be on Rachel. This was a problem he'd never considered in bringing her to this place. She was an unusually beautiful woman in any environment, but in a place like this, she stood out like a diamond ring in a dime store.  For not the first time, he was glad of his own big size, his ugly, mean-looking face. Most men would think twice before approaching her with him at her side.
To his incredulity, the men sidled to the bar; one man beside Rachel while the other two stood on Jake's left.  "You are a very beautiful woman, señorita," the lone man said.
Rachel ignored him.
"But what are you doing with such an ugly one?" The man gestured toward Jake. "A woman like you, she needs a man who is pretty, more like me. Is this man good in bed?" He gestured toward Jake. "That would be the only reason I could see for you to choose to be with him."
Jake lifted Rachel up onto the bar, standing in front of her, protecting her from all three by his bulk. "Ask me," he said, looking down at the insulting Mexican, then over at his two companions who had remained silent.
"Why would I want to do that, when you are so ugly, compadre? It is much more better to talk to the beautiful señorita." He tried to move around Jake but found his way blocked.
"I think it's time for you and your friends to leave," Mac snapped. "Or I'll call the cops." He picked up his bat as an added incentive.
The first Mexican man smiled silkily. "I like this place. Give me another beer."
"You heard Mac," Jake said, stubbing out his cigarette, never taking his eyes from the man in front of him.
"We don't need to hear from you, ugly one. I don't much like ugly faces," one of the two who'd been quiet said as he laughed, muttering a crude expletive.
Jake wiped his hands on his jeans. Turning slightly, he spun Rachel around and lifted her over the bar to land beside Mac. He nodded at Mac knowing he’d keep her safe. Unfortunately, Rachel was not cooperating, and he heard her yell something impolite just as one of the Mexicans lunged at him demanding his total attention.
Jake kneed the small man in the groin, his fist dispatching him to the floor where he collapsed in a heap. The second landed a surprisingly solid punch against his jaw and sent Jake reeling away from the bar.
He could hear screams as he lashed out with his fists at the nearest body and felt a meaty connection just before another fist grazed his own belly.
He wasn't worried about a fist fight, confident he could handle three men the size of these, but when he saw the flash of a knife, he reacted quickly. Viciously, he spun out with his boot, connecting and knocking one of the men across the room, sending his knife flying.
Jake was nearly stunned by a solid right to the side of his head, but his quick reflexes gave him the moment he needed to soundly pound the man, sending him stumbling away to crumble to the floor in a gasping heap.
And then the first man stood before him, a knife flashing in his hand. Jake steadied himself, smiling coldly at the deadly metal which gleamed wickedly in the smaller man's right hand.
"Well," Jake grunted, breathing heavily, "what have we got here?"
"Something to cut you down to size, puto."
"It's been tried."
"This time it will succeed. You will not look so big with this in your gut."
"You got to get it there first." Jake smiled coldly.
 

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