Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana, riding and gathering cattle for branding and shipping. Her parents taught her a love of books, and her grandmother rode bucking stock in rodeos. She followed her dream of writing, with a journalism degree from the University of Montana. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, won an EPIC Award and the USA Book News Best Book Finalists award, and her second novel, Follow the Dream, won a WILLA Literary Award. Dare to Dream, the third in the novel trilogy, was a finalist in the International Book Awards. Cowgirl Up! is Heidi’s first non-fiction book and won the Global E-Book Award for non-fiction/history.
Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about your book: Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women.
When someone says “Cowgirl Up!” it means to rise to the occasion, don’t give up, and do it all without whining or complaining. And the cowgirls of the early twentieth century did it all, just like the men, only wearing skirts and sometimes with a baby waiting behind the chutes. Women leaned to rope and ride out of necessity, helping their fathers, brothers, and husbands with the ranch work. But for some women, it went further than that. They caught the fever of freedom, the thirst for adrenaline, and the thrill of competition, and many started their rodeo careers as early as age fourteen.
This book won the Global E-book Award for non-fiction/history. Where did you get your inspiration for this story?
This book was inspired first by my grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos during the 1920s. The research I did for the novel trilogy based on her life led to a non-fiction history of those women who competed with men on bucking broncs, bulls and steers.
What kind of research did you do?
I read books about the old-time cowgirls, researched newspaper articles, I had stories my dad told me about my grandmother, and I interviewed descendants of some of the cowgirls.
America is known for their rodeos. What makes you so interested in cowgirl and rodeo history?
My grandmother. After she passed away when I was about 12, my dad and I were going through some photo albums and he made a casual remark: “Did you know Grandma rode steers in rodeos?” I knew she loved horses and preferred riding the range to domestic chores, but that tidbit of information intrigued me. I filed it away until many years later when I decided to write a book to tell her story. That casual remark led to four published books!
Where can my readers find you online?
My website is http://www.heidimthomas.com
Thank you for this interview, Heidi. I hope my readers will check out this book.