Behind Cowgirl Trail: Interview with Susan Page Davis
1. Cowgirl Trail is set around a cowboy strike in Texas. What inspired you to write about this specific time in Texas history?
I read about a real cowboy strike that took place in the Texas panhandle in 1893. It wasn’t very successful, but it got me to thinking—what if the men walked off the job and the women stepped in to get the work done?
2. The book’s main character, Maggie Porter, steps up to save her family’s ranch. What was the role of women in that time period? How did society view something like this?
There were a lot of women working hard on ranches, and I think in Texas at that time it was almost expected that they would pull their weight. The women didn’t necessarily go out and work the cattle, but they handled all sorts of things—business, chores, and more while their menfolk were out on the range, in addition to raising children and running the home. Some did “punch” cows out of necessity, when manpower was scarce. I read about several courageous women who did take to the cattle trail in real life and was inspired by their grit and diligence.
3. I’m sure you spent a lot of time researching for this book. What are a few interesting things you learned that inspired your story?
I was amazed at how many women got out there and worked cattle riding sidesaddle! Over time, they began to switch over and ride astride, but many, many women managed to do this demanding work wearing a dress and riding the “proper” way.
4. How did the previous books in the series (including your first book for it, Captive Trail) influence you as you wrote this one?
This book is a bit more lighthearted than Captive Trail and some of the others in the series, although Maggie has real problems and is deeply affected by her father’s situation and the change in attitudes on the ranch. But the whole men-versus-women theme lends itself to humor. Maggie goes into this adventure with a lot to learn! But I tried to stay true to Texas history and heritage in the story. I hope readers will find it fun but also accurate to the times.
5. What is one author, book, or quote that inspires your writing (either specifically for this book or for your writing in general)?
I like Thomas Hardy’s observation that “The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things.”
To hear more from Susan, read her previous interview about Captive Trail or visit her website at www.susanpagedavis.com.