THE REVOLUTION OF CHARLOTTE SMITH
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Eight become one in this coming-of-age novel that tells the real stories behind the chutes of the toughest sport on dirt.
When I was twenty-something, I took a job training horses a few miles from the Missouri border in south central Iowa. I'd grown up in the northeast corner of that state so I could not fathom that a six-hour drive south would hurl me into culture shock. I was so different, the moment I spoke, I was deemed "The Canuck." What I also didn't know was I'd been plunged face-first into a culture of horses, cowboys, roping, rodeo and bull riding. I had finally found my nirvana. My jaw gaped for a week.
Years later I became engaged in a conversation with a teenage girl who had very impassioned input regarding her upbringing in spite of the lack of scarcity that surrounded her. Given the circumstances inherit in many people's lives, I found her concerns, well, trifling, but from that was born an understanding of the desire for autonomy in everyone and the baffling behavior some individuals exhibit in their quest to define themselves.
These two seemingly independent experiences became the impetus for the coming-of-age novel The Revolution of Charlotte Smith and subsequently the protagonist, Charlotte Smith.
I thought a great place for Charlotte to experience the less fortunate side of life would be to plunge her face-first into a culture unlike her own. To do this, I drew from my fandom of an extreme sports organization called the Professional Bull Riders (PBR). The PBR was started in 1992 when the top 20 bull riders in the world scraped together $1,000 each on the belief that bull riding could be a sport independent of rodeo with prize money that would allow riders to do more than consider their passion a money-grubbing hobby.
So in 2010, I studied every event, documentary, and series I could find to incorporate real facts, figures, riders and bulls to open the door to those who had no idea what this rapidly growing sport was all about. In other words, this novel isn't written against a backdrop of bull riding, it's saturated with it.
Just like my figurative coming of age in southern Iowa, Charlotte Smith has no idea she'll literally be "coming of age" when she's unceremoniously thrown into what she perceives to be the crude world of professional bull riding.
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