SWEET RETURN was fun to write. I enjoy creating tough guys who get their comeuppance when they meet a strong woman. I have found that many tough guys might appear to be tough and rough on the outside, but they have gentle hearts. That’s the character I tried to present in the SWEET RETURN hero. Dalton is a man who has made an occupation of witnessing the worst of humanity, but he still had a good heart.
The heroine, Joanna, manages to make a living self-employed in a small, rural community, a challenge all its own. I wanted to create a woman who could equal Dalton in strength of character and independence. I figured he could never be happy with a wimpy woman, just as she had never been able to find a successful relationship with a man weaker than she.
So there you have it. As one reader put it, a hard-headed man and a strong-willed woman.
At the same time I was creating this conflict-driven relationship, I tried to keep a light tone to the story. It struck me as humorous that Joanna would be engaged in 3 businesses as diverse as owning a beauty salon, owning a wholesale janitorial supply business and raising chickens and selling free-range eggs.
The idea of a heroine as an egg farmer was sort of floating around in my head because of the current trend toward organic eating and I had watched some features on TV about free-range chickens. …. Growing up around farmers and ranchers, I know a little about chickens. As a child, every day of my life for many years, I accompanied my grandmother to the chicken house where she would select 2 pullets and wring their necks. Then we would clean them and cook them for dinner. In the late afternoons, we would go to a different chicken house and gather eggs.
Now mind you, I don’t remember a lot about raising chickens. Mostly I recall my grandmother saying, “Don’t play in the chicken house. You’ll get mites.” So I had to do research. Of the many new things I learned about chickens, one thing I discovered is that the principal book on raising chickens for egg production was written in 1902 and is still the foremost compilation of information for that particular endeavor. ….. I also learned that different breeds of chickens have different personalities. Who knew?
Hope you’ll have as much fun reading the book as I had writing it.