Cowgirl Dreams, an interview with Ada Brody

Cowgirl Dreams:Defying family and social pressure, Nettie Brady bucks 1920s convention with her dream of becoming a rodeo star. That means competing with men, and cowgirls who ride the rodeo circuit are considered “loose women.” Addicted to the thrill of pitting her strength and wits against a half-ton steer in a rodeo, Nettie exchanges skirts for pants, rides with her brothers on their Montana ranch, and competes in neighborhood rodeos.

Broken bones, killer influenza, flash floods, and family hardship team up to keep Nettie from her dreams. Then she meets a young neighbor cowboy who rides broncs and raises rodeo stock. Will this be Nettie’s ticket to freedom and happiness? Will her rodeo dreams come true?

Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.
Cowgirl Dreams is available from the publisher, Treble Heart Books, or the author website. It is suitable for both adult and young adult readers.

Today, we’ve caught up with Ada Brady, Nettie’s mother. We’ve convinced her to take a little break from her many household chores, sit down with a cup of tea and answer a few questions.
In the book Cowgirl Dreams, Nettie has defied her mother by sneaking out to ride in a rodeo, wearing pants, no less. Mama grounds her to her room, without supper, to do the darning she’d forgotten. Here’s an excerpt:
Nettie groaned. Why couldn’t Mama understand that she’d rather be outside, working with the horses and cattle? With that look on her mother’s face, she’d be lucky to get outside again by this time next summer.
Maybe if she did a really bad job of darning, she wouldn’t have to do any more. She wove the needle over and under, under and over, deliberately missing some threads.
After about an hour, Mama stepped into the room. “How are you doing?”
“Okay.” Nettie kept her head down.
Her mother picked up a darned sock and inspected it closely. “No.”
Nettie looked up, keeping the smile from coming. This was it. Now Mama would let her quit rather than being embarrassed to give the socks to Mrs. Conners.
Mama picked up the scissors and cut the woven patch right out of the sock. Nettie gasped. Then her mother picked up another, looked at it, and cut the darn out, too. “This is
sloppy work. You’ll do it all over.” She flung the socks back into the basket.

HMT: Mrs. Brady, don’t you think you were a little hard on your daughter? After all, she had a successful ride on that steer?

Mama: Absolutely not. Nettie is a headstrong girl. She has to learn that she cannot just run wild, dress like a man in public, and ride off whenever she feels like it.

HMT: But ripping out her work and making her do it all over?

Mama: I know she hates this job. But it’s important to learn to take care of a family. This skill not only keeps her and her brothers in socks without holes, it earns us pin money, so we can buy something special when we go to town. She’ll need to know this when she has a family of her own.

HMT: I understand. But Nettie has a dream, to be a rodeo star. Isn’t it a good thing for a young woman to have a goal in life?

Mama (sighing): Yes. It is. I had a dream once—to become a musician. But you know what, it was not practical. Sure, I can play now for enjoyment, but it doesn’t put food on the table and clothes on my children’s backs.

HMT: And you do have a large family.

Mama (proudly): Yes, eight children living.

HMT: I gather Nettie doesn’t aspire to marriage and children.

Mama: I just don’t understand that girl. Her two older sisters took naturally to needlepoint and cooking and housekeeping. They couldn’t wait to set up their own households. But Nettie… (a shake of the head) All she wants to do is ride her horse. And now steers!

HMT: Why is Nettie wanting to ride in rodeos such a bad thing? She could probably win some money and help the family out that way.

Mama: That may be true, and we could use the extra income. But, it’s such a dangerous pastime. Why anyone—especially a girl—would subject her body to such a beating on top of a bucking animal, I’ll never understand.

HMT: I’ve heard there’s an adrenaline thrill in doing something like that.

Mama: It’s just not practical. And women who travel around the country with men, well, they have a (eyebrows raised) “certain reputation,” don’t you know?

HMT: I didn’t know that. What about Marie Gibson? She’s married and has a couple of children. She’s not that kind of woman.

Mama: Oh, Mrs. Gibson. Yes, she is a fine woman, and she has done her best to convince me that she can keep Nettie under her wing while taking her on the rodeo circuit. (sighs) My goodness, maybe I shouldn’t fight Nettie on this so much. She certainly is determined. And I’ve seen her ride. She really is quite good.

HMT: I’ll say she is. I admire what she does. I’ve never been brave enough to ride a bucking steer or bronc.

Mama: Yes, I suppose it does take courage. But, you know, I would be remiss in my role as a mother not to want to protect her and to teach her how to cook and mend and care for a house and children. (She stands, takes our cups to the dishpan, and turns back to me.) I’m very glad you’re writing about our dear Nettie, but please, try not to encourage her so much in her headstrong ways. (She sets a heavy flatiron on the cook stove.) Now, I really must get back to my chores. I have a huge pile of ironing to do.

Cowgirl Dreams in available at (autographed copies) or from Treble Heart Books
Heidi’s website:

Heidi’s blog:

32 thoughts on “Cowgirl Dreams, an interview with Ada Brody

  1. Susanne Drazic

    I enjoyed your blog post about Cowgirl Dreams. Sounds like it will be a very interesting book to read. I also found the interview very interesting.


  2. Katie Hines

    This was a great interview. I enjoyed hearing about this intrepid young lady through her “mom’s” eyes. I especially liked this sentence: She has to learn that she cannot just run wild, dress like a man in public, and ride off whenever she feels like it.

    How true that must have been and how hard it must have been to buck the traditional role of women at that period in time.


  3. Stephen Tremp

    This is definately a story of someone bucking the status quo to do what they feel in their heart they are supposed to do. This helps develop strong character. Conflict is also introduced. Best wishes for your success.

    Stephen Tremp


  4. Heidi M Thomas

    Thank you all for commenting today! I wrote this “interview” after I had a couple of young readers say they thought Mama was too “mean” or too hard on Nettie. It’s a fun exercise to do for any character in your work and helps you as the writer to get to know that character better, even if it’s not your main POV character.

    Stay tuned for the sequel, Follow the Dream, due out this year!


  5. Helena Harper

    Very enjoyable post – thank you Margaret and Heidi!

    One can only admire trailblazers like Nettie and the real women who did just what she wants to do. But if one feels strongly about anything, I think one is prepared to move heaven and earth to achieve it.

    Best of success with the book and the sequel, Heidi.


  6. Lea Schizas

    Honestly, I don’t think I’d ever attempt to ride anything that can kick me off its back. 🙂

    Great interview. I always enjoy reading other writers and their thought process.


  7. Heidi M Thomas

    Carolyn, I love your comment! LOL

    And Lea, me too–I never aspired to ride something that was going to try to buck me off! The horses I rode growing up were pretty tame. I did fall off into a cactus patch once though, because I hadn’t tightened my cinch enough and the saddle rolled off to the side. Ouch!


  8. Cynthia Becker

    What a great exercise! I’m going to try this with the very Victorian mother in my work-in-progress. I think she will help me better understand my headstrong character. Thank you for the idea and a great example of such an interview.


  9. Eunice Boeve

    Hi Heidi,
    I’ve read Cowgirl Dreams and really liked it, so enjoyed this interview with Nettie’s mother. Her mother only wants to protect her daughter and fears not only the physical harm that could and often does result from this type career, but her reputation as well. In her mind, she can well imagine a young impressionable girl in a man’s world and she realizes what could happen in the company of some men. On the pratical side, she sees that Nettie needs to learn to do the chores a home maker has to do, unless she can afford household help, which would be highly unlikely. Also rodeo is a young person’s game. What will she have to fall back on, especially if she ruins her reputation? All of us mothers, especially in that time and place, and in those circumstances, all share the same fear for our daughters.


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  11. Hans Tebar

    I feel like I’m constantly looking for interesting things to read about a variety of niches, but I manage to include your blog among my reads every day because you have interesting entries that I look forward to. Here’s hoping there’s a lot more top-notch material coming!


  12. Stephen Tremp

    I can see this being written and illustarted as a children’s book as well. Sometimes I see that in a book. An author has the original version and a second toned down version for kids. I think that would work here.

    Stephen Tremp



    Every time I come to you have another interesting article up. A friend of mine was telling me about this topic a couple weeks ago, so I think I will e-mail them the url here and see what they say.


  14. Shea Beuchler

    This is valuable. I wanted pictures to add in my school project and the images you have posted are useful. Thanks for them buddy! I guess teacher will love my project due to these images and of course the information I provided.


  15. Caldwell

    What you explained made a lot of sense. But, consider this to be, what if you added in just a little content? I am talking about, I dont want to show you how to run your website, but let’s say you added anything to maybe get peoples attention? Similar to a training video or perhaps a photo or two to obtain people interested in what youve got to mention. I think, it will make your blog become more active a little bit.



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