The Story Behind A Story of the West by Susan Spence

Matt Daly’s eyes narrowed as he faced the stranger in front of him. “I know I don’t have a quarrel with you because I don’t know you,” he growled.

“But I know you,” the menacing outlaw sneered back, clearly ready to use the Colt revolver hanging from his hip.

Only a few years earlier Matt and his father had trailed a herd of longhorns north from Texas into Montana Territory. Upon arriving, they decided to stay and raise cattle on the fertile grasslands.

Shortly after the Northern Pacific rail line was completed and it became easier for people to head west. Lavina Lavold stepped off the train in Miles City with her family and immediately caught Matt’s eye. When they fall in love, Matt’s life seems perfect.

There are unscrupulous men, however, determined to build cattle empires. A ruthless neighbor decides he wants the Daly’s claim, and he will stop at nothing to acquire their ranch. Since the entire area is undeeded land, it is up for grabs and there is no law on the rough frontier to prevent a range war. When Matt refuses to back down, his life takes a dangerous turn.

Forced to abandon his family, his travels take him down a long road of misery. An encounter with an Indian medicine man helps him to regain his sense of self, but not until after he gives in to his desperation.

A Story of the West depicts life during the open range ranching days of the Wild West. Besides plenty of action, I have added a women’s perspective to settling the American West. I researched the era to ensure historical accuracy and have written an accurate portrayal of life during this time, as well as an exciting read.

The Story Behind A Story of the West

By Susan Spence

I first thought up the pivotal moment in my hero’s life, which has to do with his life becoming so miserable that he decides to end it. I wrote the story around that event, how he got into such a desperate place and what happens afterwards. In my mind it always took place during the 1880s time period in the American West. It turned into a love story, and of course, it also has a lot of action to turn it into a thrilling read.

There were a few years between thinking up the idea for A Story of the West and getting it into print. Even though I’ve been an avid reader all my life, I had never even thought of writing a book before. I’m not sure what came over me. All I can say is that I must have had some spare time on my hands. I’m also not sure what my husband thought when I told him I was going to write a book. He didn’t laugh or try to talk me out of it anyway.

When I decided to attempt a novel, I didn’t even own a computer. I went to the supermarket, bought a spiral notebook and a bag of Bic pens, went home and started putting the story down. Part of it was that I thought writing by hand would help put me in the time period, but I quickly realized that I didn’t have the writing expertise to just sit down and tell a story. That led to my first computer, as I needed to have a word processor for all the rewriting that followed.

I worked on my book for at least a couple of years. I would leave it alone for months at a time, but I always kept it in the back of my mind, thinking and figuring out the plot. The more I wrote, the more I liked the result. Finally I made a push to get it finished and into print.

The publishing process was a daunting task only because it meant getting my story out there and risking criticism. I procrastinated way too long because of my fear, but eventually got over my jitters and got it done. I am happy to say that the feedback from readers has been really incredible, so I’m glad I persisted.


Susan Spence has always been intrigued with life in the west in the 1880s. She researched historical accounts and first-person narratives as she prepared to write A Story of the West. A lifelong resident of the west, she currently lives in Montana on an old sheep shearing station with lots of furry critters and one partially furry critter. This is her first novel, and she is busily working on a sequel due out in late spring.

You can visit her website at


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