Monday, March 6, 2017

Wiley Petersen and the Bull Riding Witch

As I mentioned in last week's post, Rodeo and Research (, my best source on Bull Riding and rodeo in general came when I found the website, First, the site itself has a ton of information, including instructional videos on everything to do with bull riding from how to rosin your rope (something I wasn't even aware they did) to what to do if you get hung up.

They also sell an ebook titled Bull Riding Basics, which was enormously helpful. These things offered me a lot of technical knowledge. I put too much of the technical details into early drafts of the novel, which I then edited out of subsequent drafts. This is always a danger when doing research. Not everything you learn adds to the story, but the more you know, the more you can make sure that the details you do include are accurate and don't throw your reader out of the story.

Despite how helpful this site was, I was still left with a ton of questions that weren't covered. Things like: "How do you find out which bull you’ve drawn?" (the bull they are to ride that night) and "Is there any general attitude among bull riders about other participants in the rodeo (ropers, barrel riders, etc.)? Do the other participants in the rodeo have any general attitude about bull riders?" Questions that only a participant would generally be concerned about, but would affect certain scenes in the novel.

This is where Wiley Petersen came in. Since I don't know any bull riders, I use the "contact us" tab on I introduced myself as a fiction writer setting my novel in the world of bull riding and asked if they had anyone who would be willing to answer some questions. Wiley responded that he'd be happy to answer my questions, which he did in a thorough and friendly fashion. He thought some of them were weird, such as when I asked if they could touch the bulls. I wanted to know because Daulphina needed some of the bull's hair to perform a spell. This was his answer: "We don't really try to touch the bulls. We just go look at them and try to find the one we've drawn by looking at them in the back pens. Most bulls don't really want to be touched." I could hear him in my head, saying, "Bull aren't pets, you know? We don't get all warm and cozy with them." I had to ask a follow up question to clarify why I needed to know, and it turns out it wouldn't be a problem out. Just wait until the bull turns his back and grab a few. He answered my initial questions and any follow up questions that I had. 

Only later did I learn that Wiley was one of the country's top bull riders. He is #16 in the Professional Bull Riders all time money winners. But he couldn't have been nicer or more helpful.

So the moral of the story is, if you don't know something that effects your story, ask. Most experts are happy to share their knowledge and like it when writer try to get the details right. 

One last video of Wiley in action to demonstrate why he will forever remain my bull riding expert:

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