Thursday, May 02, 2013

Setting the Scene with Jeannie Watt

Pink Heart Editor and Superromance author Jeannie Watt gives insight into the setting for many of her Nevada-based books.

I write cowboy books and I set them in Nevada because (a) I live here; (b) it has rich ranching heritage; and (c) so that people know that there's more to Nevada than Las Vegas.

Several of my books--The Brother Returns, Maddie Inherits a Cowboy and Crossing Nevada--are set in the remote fictional town of Barlow Ridge.  While Barlow Ridge is a composite of several isolated Nevada towns and is located in a more mountainous locale,  my local community was a huge inspiration when I created the town

The area where I live has a population of about 200 people and is 40 miles from the nearest semi-major (7,000 people) population center. There are several nice homes in the community, but when I took these photos, I wanted to focus  on what gives small Nevada communities their unique flavor. (I wish that the trees were leafed out, but it's just too early in the year.)

There are two churches, one bar, a post office, school, fire station and a community center. There's no store, no gas station. I gave fictional Barlow Ridge a mercantile, a gas station and a café, because I thought it would be nice for the characters to have all the amenities.

Like Barlow Ridge, ranches border the streets of the town and the main occupation of the local residents is agriculture.

The town was once a thriving ranching and mining community, but as the mines petered out, only the ranchers remained. There are several historic buildings still standing.

This is so much prettier with leaves on the trees...

The school is a central gathering place for the community.

Unfortunately I do not have pictures, but cattle sometimes wander through town and, since it's open range, one has to be careful when driving--especially at night--because cows have the right away.

One thing I try to relate in each story is the sense of community found in these small isolated towns. Neighbors depend on each other, even if they don't always see eye to eye, and that means when there's a range fire, they pull together.

And when there's a wedding, they all show up.

And that's my inspiration when writing small Nevada towns.

Harlequin Superromance author Jeannie Watt lives in rural Nevada and writes fast-paced, character driven stories set in the western United States.   To find out more about Jeannie and her books, please visit her website or her retro sewing blog.


  1. From MarcieR

    Oh wow, I love the pics. So there's a bar but no gas station? Interesting.

    I love your Nevada stories Jeannie and am excited to go to Montana with you next!

    1. Thank you, Marcie. I'm enjoying writing those Montana stories. Until a few years ago, the closest gas station was 40 miles away, which made one very conscious of that little needle. More than once I had to turn around and go back to the bigger town because I'd forgotten to gas up before I left. Now we have a station only 18 miles away.