Unleashing My Inner Redneck


I recently celebrated the first anniversary of the publication of my book Harmony. And what a year it’s been! I’ve (mostly) enjoyed the struggle to overcome my procrastinating nature as I wrote and edited my next novels. I’ve loved meeting readers and other authors and the talented BSB staff. And I’ve appreciated every moment I was able to dedicate to creating and writing and brainstorming. But one of my favorite by-products of this writing life has been the way my characters influence my hobbies, how I spend my free time. I played along with Andy, Brooke, Jamie, et al. as I practiced my viola, experimented with new recipes, and read financial books and magazines (because I really needed to find a way to invest that spare ten dollars I carried around in my pocket). And – for “research,” of course – I’ve smoked a few cigars, spent far too much time playing pool, and tried my hand (so to speak) at tequila body shots. (Hey, I strive for accuracy no matter what the personal cost.)

Now I’m working on my newest book, a romantic intrigue called Mounting Danger. Because of the storyline, I’m taking polo lessons again and hiking through Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park. But I’m both excited and worried about the effect my character Rachel will have on me. Unlike her sophisticated polo-playing counterpart, Rachel is a ranch-raised, backcountry woman. She’s everything a cowgirl-turned-cop should be – dusty and sweaty and hard-working and honest to a fault. While I’m writing about her, I’ll get to revel in all my redneck traits. And believe me, I have quite a few of them. I’m more at home in cowboy boots than in heels, I own more than one pair of coveralls, and I admit to having a pile of spare fence posts covered by the Washington State flag (local slang for a blue tarp) in my backyard. And while I was sitting in the pasture writing this blog, I had a determined goat trying to nibble on my computer. (Will the excuse “Sorry, but my goat ate my flash drive” work the next time I miss a deadline?) Over the next few months, Rachel will be part of me whether I’m riding, cleaning the barn, or possibly learning to two-step as I release my inner redneck cowgirl. Why am I worried about Rachel’s influence on me? Because – again, in the name of research – I’ve been searching through “horse-for-sale” ads as I try to find the right mount for her. I’m fairly certain one of them will find its way into my pasture, and I’ve reached my quota of animals. (Of course, I say the same thing about books, but I don’t stop buying them!)

Maybe someday I’ll create a character with a more useful (to me) hobby of housecleaning or weeding or closet organizing. But probably not. Besides, how much organizing does my flannel-filled redneck closet need? Once the flannel is sorted into categories – dress, casual, ripped-beyond-repair, should-never-be-worn-outside-the-house – what’s left to do? So for now I’m happy to explore, through my characters, some of the careers and hobbies that interest and inspire my little Renaissance soul. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go horse shopping…

19 Responses to “Unleashing My Inner Redneck”

  1. 1 SA September 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    A fellow Washingtonian! We were at Pt Defiance just the other day taking the little one to the zoo; the park is beautiful this time of year. I’m always curious to what lengths authors go to develop their characters; your blog was a fun insight to your process. Congrats on “Harmony,” and good luck with this new story!


    • 2 Erin Saluta September 4, 2012 at 10:17 AM

      I say go for it and embrace that red neck! Buy the horse! Buy the horse! Thanks for the wonderful insight into your writing process it was fun to read.


      • 3 Karis Walsh September 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

        Erin — Due to the lag between writing and publishing this blog, I can report that I did indeed embrace my inner redneck and I got a horse. Oops, make that two horses 🙂 I’m now the proud foster mom for two lovely mares named Siena and Sunshine.


    • 4 Karis Walsh September 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      SA — I was born and raised in Tacoma, so the park played a big part in my childhood. Very cool that you have a chance to share it with your little one!

      Interesting trivia tidbit — this photo of me was taken at Pt. Defiance, near the rose garden.


  2. 5 Beth September 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    As a fellow Washingtonian, on the other side of the state, I love the local name for the ever present blue tarp. I went wild and went with a brown one, crazy woman that I am.
    Good luck with the new book, I look forward to reading it.


    • 6 Karis Walsh September 4, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      A brown tarp?? Beth, you are such a rebel!

      I wish they made them in plaid — I’d be all over that.

      And I love your side of the state. I spent my college years in Walla Walla and I recently revisited Spokane because of my upcoming book, Improvisation. Nice to be in a place with actual seasons (as opposed to rain, slightly warmer rain, rain, slightly colder rain).


      • 7 Beth September 4, 2012 at 8:58 PM

        Oh, I wish I would have known you were in Spokane, I would have loved to buy you a beer/coffee/tea……
        Living in Spokane does bring the joy of experiencing all 4 seasons….I love this time of the year, the fields are just starting to turn golden and the night air is starting to crisp. Now Winter….the older I get, the less I’m enchanted with the snow details.


  3. 10 Carol September 4, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    Yahoo! You go two-stepping. I love it.


  4. 12 Kate September 4, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    That’s too funny! I’ve always heard you should write what you know. So, it makes sense that if you want to write about various things, you should become eclectic in your hobbies. Your characters appreciate it, I’m sure…


  5. 14 Connie September 4, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    Absolutely love this and keep the mares–to heck with the foster mom deal! And flannel is perfect.


  6. 16 Devlyn Sixtyseven September 5, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Karis, your blog made me LOL, lucky your characters aren’t pot smoking criminals. Cigar smoking is much higher class.
    Cant wait to read your latest.


  7. 18 Kim September 5, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    I enjoyed Harmony and can’t wait to read your next one.


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