Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Bounty Hunter's Life

My November release Bodine's Bounty is set in western times, circa 1882. When I was doing my research for the story, I learned some surprising facts about bounty hunters and what the west was like back in those days. In the story, my hero Bodine is secretly hired to protect a runaway heiress on a mission all her own. He thinks the job frivilous but learns quickly the task is much more difficult than anyone could have predicted - Emma Marie Rourke is a strong and determined young woman. With his brother's killer on the loose, Bodine can't wait to finish his job with Emma so he can pursue the outlaw responsible for his death.

Did you know:

Bounty hunters were never paid on the spot for turning in their prisoner. Because of the red tape involved the bounty hunter would leave his address and have to wait for his payment.

Bounty hunters names were never recorded- anonimity meant survival.

The average bounty for a prisoner brought in was $100 to $300 but some ranged as high as $500.
The highest award offered in British Columbia was $4000 for William Haney who robbed a train and killed a special constable tracking him down. He was never captured.

In B.C., wanted posters never used the DEAD as part of the equation. Bounty hunters had to bring their prisoners in alive to receive compensation.

In the U.S, bringing in a prisoner alive was perferrable, but dead was acceptable. Alive meant the full compensation - dead less than half. If Bob Ford had turned in Jesse James alive, he'd have received the full and highest bounty during that time of $10,000. Because he killed Jesse he received less than half the compensation.

The Idea:

I'm often asked where I get my ideas from and this time I can readily answer that this story came from a very surprising source. I've always loved Elvis Presley and have seen his movies countless times over the years. I loved the premise of Girl Happy, where a mobster father pays Elvis to watch over his daughter during spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the one-time hottest destination for spring-breakers in the U.S.

Elvis is forced to comply even though he has his own agenda. He doesn't think the job too hard, after all, the daughter isn't much of a social butterfly. He figures he can watch her and still have fun but he learns that the rich heiress isn't a wallflower after all. She leads him on a merry chase and he winds up reluctantly falling in love with her after much ado.

The premise for this Elvis movie had always stuck in my mind and I knew I'd find the right story one day. And then I decided I'd love to write about a bounty hunter. Soon, the two ideas became one and I fashioned Bodine's Bounty with Girl Happy in mind. It just goes to show that one never really knows when or how an idea will hit.

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