|Vonn McKee remembers vividly her first glimpse of real cowboys herding mustangs into a pen outside Prescott, Arizona. She was a four-year-old whose parents had moved her there in hopes of curing her asthma. “I can still picture the riders and horses–bays, pintos, buckskins– surrounded by dust and sunlight,” she says. The experience (and, unfortunately, the asthma) never left her, even after her family moved back to her mother’s native Louisiana. Vonn jokes that she is “descended from horse traders and southern belles.” She spent summers visiting her father’s family, who raised cattle and broke horses in North Dakota and, later, northwestern Minnesota. Inspired by seeing her grandfather stretched out on a sofa reading Zane Grey novels (some of which were passed down to her), she owned a complete ZG set herself by age eighteen. After years of working at everything from riverboat waitress to country singer to construction project manager, Vonn is incorporating her experiences–and some of the interesting characters she’s met– into stories of the old West.