The Character Inspiration for HER COWBOY PRINCE with Trish Milburn

I’m a pretty visual person, so when I start creating characters for a new book I tend to search for an image I can look to as inspiration. It was no different when I began to create the world and characters for my Once Upon a Western series. Here’s a peak at the inspiration and a little bit about the main characters of Book 1, Her Cowboy Prince, which is loosely based on the Cinderella fairy tale.

The hero is Justin McQueen, part owner with his two brothers and father as well as CEO of Peak View, Inc. – a large ranching operation and a hot springs resort located in the Paradise Valley of Montana. This valley stretches from the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park up to Livingston, Montana. The Yellowstone River winds through the valley, which is paralleled by the Gallatin Mountains to the west and the Absaroka Mountains to the east. My fictional town of Logan Springs sits in the middle.


Justin is the eldest of the three McQueen brothers and is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. He was inspired by actor Noah Mills, who was one of the main cast members on the military drama The Brave, which NBC sadly cancelled (grrrrr!!!) after only one season.


My heroine is Melody Shaw (real name Melody Redmond), who is working as a housekeeper at the Peak View Hot Springs Resort. She was the former head of Redmond Pharmaceuticals until a continuing threat to her life sent her into witness protection. She had to give up everything, even her real name. So when she starts to have feelings for Justin, it’s more than being attracted to her boss that has her worried. She knows that having any sort of relationship with him will mean she’ll have to always lie to him, something she doesn’t think she can do.


Melody has a hard time hiding the type of person she really is, however – intelligent, creative, business-minded, hardworking – and finds a way to use those skills without blowing her cover.


My physical inspiration for Melody was Jaimie Alexander, who plays Jane Doe on Blindspot. This is the look Melody has after changing her appearance to go into WITSEC. Prior to that, she had longer, blond hair.


Having these visual inspirations helps me to see my characters in three dimensions physically as I create the aspects of their personalities, their backstories, and the journeys they will have to take over the course of the book.


Trish Milburn is the author of more than 40 novels and novellas in the romance, women’s fiction and young adult genres. She’s also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Award, two-time Maggie Award of Excellence winner, and winner of the 2013 EPIC eBook Award for her young adult novel White Witch.

She enjoys road trips, traveling by train, and exploring America’s National Parks. And though it sounds like a line from a personals ad, she also enjoys walks on the beach – especially since she moved to Florida after growing up in Kentucky and spending 20 years living in Nashville after college. She’s a big geek girl, known to cosplay on occasion, channeling characters from Kahlan Amnell (Legend of the Seeker) to The Doctor (Doctor Who) to a Shadowhunter (The Mortal Instruments series). She loves a good costume/historical drama or sci-fi epic, and if you can combine the two that’s even better. That explains why two of her favorite shows of all time are Firefly and Timeless.

Visit to learn more about Trish and her books, to sign up for her fun newsletter, and to connect via social media.


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