One of the things that led me to write The Broken & The Foolish was a desire to write a female-driven Western novel. The Western genre is male-dominated; while I often enjoy the setting/action components, some of the films I’ve seen show scenes of women being subjugated/abused and it’s not even an important part of the story. Once I saw a Western movie where the main male character saw a prostitute on the side even though he was in love with a woman who was socially acceptable to court. I remember how he left the prostitute forever while she was laying there naked (she was in love with him). To him, she was little more than a toy he used until he was ready to claim the woman of his dreams. I found myself more interested in what happened to the woman who worked at the saloon than his boring storyline. It was an honour to write a story that begins with my female protagonist resorting to sex work to pay for her baby sister’s livelihood.
I wanted to write a story that shows a woman’s side of the Wild West experience. Mary was no less human for being a prostitute in a saloon – it was merely one part of her journey. This was an avenue she took as a means to survive. She holds resentment for the types of men who use women for their own needs – they are the reason why sex work exists in the first place (not the other way around). But she’s strong. Her story doesn’t end when a man walks out of the room after using her – it begins soon after she bails on the saloon life to pursue outlawing and independence. My Western novel is told from a woman’s perspective and in a lot of ways, she isn’t much different from the male outlaws you read about in classic Westerns. Like them, she’s paving a way for herself in the world, she has distaste for the rich due to her own experiences being poor, and she connects deeply with her horses.
While an evil protagonist can be infuriating, Westerns are fueled by outlaws, rogue cowboys, gunslingers, etc. and that’s what attracts the readers – people don’t usually read these books for the highly moral characters (And if you do, what are you doing?). Sometimes you want to engage in a story about a risky character who lived during a crazy time – and what led them down that path in the first place. The were many female outlaws who existed in real life and they’re a part of history that I find intriguing, considering the views most of society held toward women. Many men in their class respected them – and a lot would have feared them. Some women worked in saloons and while purists considered them dirty sinners, they were just as human as anyone else. Some of them turned to outlawing while others remained in that line of work, surviving all manner of risks and abuse. I wanted to include that experience in my writing, because they deserve a voice, as well. They were often treated brutally and weren’t allowed to leave their servitude (some may have enjoyed the work, but obviously, many did it as a means of survival).
Female-driven Westerns are bad ass. Some of my inspiration came from (probably not surprisingly) The Quick & The Dead film. I also gained a lot of inspiration from The Keeping Room, an indie film about three women surviving in Missouri soon after the Civil War. I’d like to explore more female-driven Westerns in the future, because they really are fascinating. If you’d like to check out my novel, or you think you know someone who would love to receive it as a gift, I’ll include the link for you here. It’s available in both print & ebook formats.
Thank you for reading! Xx