Roxanne asked me to do a post on the rural and western settings I’m using for my paranormal series, Hell’s Valley. My first thought was “of course paranormal needs to be set out in the boonies!” But I realize that most of these stories occur in big cities. So that got me thinking…
This latest series, Hell’s Valley, is set in Copper River, Wyoming, set in a valley in the wild Gros Ventre Mountains in the western part of the state.
I like to think of my novels as “Urban Fantasy”, but set out in the countryside. So, “Rural Fantasy”. Doesn’t sound quite as edgy, but believe me, there is a lot of trouble to be had “out there” in the wilderness!
Part of my preoccupation with rural settings has to do with the fact that I’ve nearly always lived in very small towns in rural areas. And when I get to take a vacation? I’ll pick a place like Capitol Reef National Park over New York City every single time.
There’s something about being out in sparsely-populated, rural areas. There’s a wildness and sense of self-reliance that you don’t get in metropolitan areas. Also, there’s an undertone of vulnerability, like life in some of these places takes on a little more risk when you’re away from services and things like social or medical safety nets.
Case in point: I live and practice medicine in a rural area (always have, actually). If a super sick patient comes into the hospital and I can’t get them out to the big city due to their unstable condition or weather, then you can really feel that person’s life creeping closer to the edge. Same thing goes for people who live in rural areas. Sometimes resources are hours away instead of right down the street. Adds a whole new edge to what happens in rural areas.
So in many of my books, I use rural settings because of this undertone of vulnerability. Once I’ve got my characters out in the country or wilderness or sparsely populated area? Then I go looking for trouble!
One of my readers made the comment that I like to go find things that go bump in the night, and then freakin’ hug them. Yep, that’s pretty much true!
Once we get away from the city/suburbia, things change. Decisions have different consequences. People have to be more self-reliant. And when something evil emerges? Those characters are on their own. No fire department or police rushing to help. My characters have to figure it out, or die.
That’s the undertone of my books when I use rural settings. Pretty much if something goes wrong or if bad things happen…you’re screwed. Plain and simple. Characters know this truth and readers feel it as an extra edge throughout the novels. As a writer? I love it. I love how the stakes rise when help is far away. I love how characters have to pull every internal and external resource to survive. They have to improvise and push their bodies and minds further than they thought possible to survive.
If you enjoy watching characters fight for their love and their lives beneath the weight of insurmountable odds, way out in the middle of nowhere, then you’re going to love Hell’s Valley. Also: hot ranchers. :-)
Hell’s Valley Series
Genre: paranormal romance/western romance
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Date of Publication: 3/27/17
Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 66,700
Tagline: The melding of the contemporary western with paranormal elements—think Big Valley meets Alphas—makes for a compelling, fresh mix for Jillian David’s sophomore series.
Growing up as an honorary Taggart, Eric Patterson found the family he’d always wanted. Almost. He couldn’t ever manage to see the clan’s youngest and only daughter, stubborn spitfire Shelby, quite like a little sister. Suddenly, his long-suppressed feelings are determined to come to light.
Too bad Shelby’s cursed. Her double whammy psychic powers to read emotions and locate anyone anywhere have always made relationships impossible—and now they’ve begun to endanger her life. If she uses her echolocation skills again, it just might kill her.
But when a malevolent supernatural force invades the valley, threatening the Taggarts and their neighbors, the Brands, Eric and Shelby must contend with both their blossoming feelings and the increasing danger. Does Shelby dare risk using her powers one more time, sacrificing her own life to save Eric?
Wait until Eric found out she could read anyone’s emotions.
Not that she’d ever tell him.
It was bad enough he knew about her homing beacon skills.
A wave of something else wafted over her filters. Warm, smoky caramel. The scent of Eric’s concern and worry about her.
His light brown brows drew together. “So, how’s your breathing? Really?” By the way he asked, he damn well knew the answer.
“Want to try that answer again?” The curve of his sensual mouth pressed into a hard line as he studied her. Did he seriously move into a wide alpha-dude stance? Not that she was affected by him. No way. Her disgust stemmed from the fact that hard muscled, denim-clad legs like those should be illegal to display without a license.
“Sure.” She suppressed a betraying wheeze. “How about it’s none of your business and let’s get back to work?”
He barked what passed for a laugh and moved not one inch. “You bet it’s my business.” He extended a work-roughened hand toward her then dropped it. “I can’t believe you’re on call for Search and Rescue in this condition.”
“In this condition?” Virtual heat steamed from the top of her head. “Now you’re checking on my condition?”
“I’m an EMT, same as you. Someone should assess how you’re doing since you refused medical treatment after the fire.”
“Don’t need to assess anything. I’m fine.”
He rolled a gloved hand into a fist and propped it on a central beam, leaning like he wanted to shove down the entire structure. “Damn it, Shel, you’re going to get yourself killed if you don’t take care of yourself. I’m one of the team leaders on Search and Rescue. And I will pull you from a mission if you’re not healthy.”
Irritation crackled along her nerves. No way could she give in to the undertone of concern in his voice. “That would be the last thing on earth that you did, getting in my way of doing my job.”
His mouth barely moved. “If it’s a medical call, I’ll do it.”
“This conversation was getting too serious too quickly. And she couldn’t detect a rock bottom for this uncomfortable chat. “So now you’re a medical expert?”
“As close as we’re going to get right now.”
Spin the topic, damn it. Change the subject. Now. “No way, dude. You’re not evaluating my medical condition. Because then I’d have to make you wear the stupid nurse costume and call you ‘ma’am.’”
He paused then shook his head. With a glint in his dark blue eyes, he shot her a broad grin that made her heart flop. “How about I wear the hat?”
“Well . . . ”
“And nothing else.”
Today’s verbal judo wasn’t working like it normally did. Her cheeks warmed up at the thought of an exam by Eric. With him wearing only a nurse’s cap. That image cast her childhood friend in a whole new and uncomfortable light. She broke eye contact. Nope. Nothing would ever happen beyond friendship, and life was better for both of them that way.
Because, with her crappy gift to detect emotion, Shelby’s problem wasn’t intimacy, it was the aftermath, the judgment, the inevitable disapproval, the garbage and static that came along with even the nicest thoughts. Way too much closeness.
She and Eric were friends. That’s the way it had been for years, and that’s how it would be for years to come. Period.
“Fine, Nurse Patterson.” She sniffed. “But I get to decide how to use the stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.”
About the Author:
Jillian David lives near the end of the Earth with her nut of a husband and two bossy cats. To escape the sometimes-stressful world of the rural physician, she writes while on call and in her free time. She enjoys taking realistic settings and adding a twist of “what if.” Running or hiking on local trails often promotes plot development.
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