I pride myself on the research that is reflected in my stories.. I strive to bring to life the stories of American settlers who lived two centuries ago. My novels are a series called Six Bulls. These include Avenge, Six Bulls-The Ohioans, and The Carolinian. The latest novel, Bride by Mail, is now available. It is the last book in his Six Bulls series.
The novels in the series draw from family tales about settlers who journeyed to the American frontier in the 1800s. Their stories, passed down through the generations, paint pictures of courageous and adventurous people—a hearty lot—who had perseverance, self-reliance, and, despite dangers and the unknown, overcame their fears. Most were not famous or widely celebrated, yet they carved out homes, farms, settlements, and a life on the frontier, and, in the process, created a great nation. American settlers are heroes in my eyes, and it is an honor to include some of their folklore in my novels.
From my research, I have a better understanding of the Native American’s plight. Despite being fierce and resourceful, they were swept aside ultimately by the oncoming tide of settlers. There came a time for understanding and compassion by the conquering invaders. In too many instances, this did not occur, and that disgraceful stain is part of our historical legacy.
What inspires you to write?
As a youngster, my family moved west over the storied American asphalt trail named U.S. Highway 66, the twentieth-century version of the dusty dirt trails of previous times. Completed in 1938, that ribbon of road stretched twenty-four hundred miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, crossing eight states, and three-time zones. Known variously as “the Mother Road,” “Main Street of America,” and “Will Rogers Highway,” it had been celebrated in many different venues.
It was the route that breathed life into my boyhood dreams of adventures on pioneer trails, cowboys herding cattle, and Native Americans riding the open plains, created by books, movies, and magazines of my early days. Decades later, my wife and I retraced this journey and more, in the current mode of the covered wagon, a motorhome complete with several hundred horses, as research took us to the locations used in my stories.
Tell us about your writing process.
I love history, whether reading for pleasure or doing research. I suppose that is why I enjoy adding greater depth and authenticity to my work by linking historical events in my stories I pride myself on accuracy when describing these events.
At one point, I found myself avidly involved in genealogy, and the result is that I have a large collection of family names going back, sometimes, to the invention of surnames in a few geographic areas of Europe. Still, I find it even more interesting to uncover tales that have been handed down through the generations by family members. Many times, I draw on these to create a framework for my stories.
Eastern born, I love the American west. By heavens, the magnificent settings are unbelievably varied. It has been an incredible canvas for many authors of western tales for generations. I’m glad that I can participate.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
No, I can’t say that I have talked to or listened to my characters. Even so, there are exceptions. For example, I love to write lines for a character with an Irish lilt to the sound. In my mind, I can bring up the voice of actor Barry Fitzgerald speaking my words. In other instances, I hear my written works spoken by a character that I have patterned after someone I know in real life.
Yet, I do dream about some of my characters, particularly if I’m stuck in writing my manuscript. In my most-recent novel, Bride by Mail, the main female character joins a literary club that undertakes writing letters to men in the wilds of Washington Territory. At one meeting, a woman tells about receiving a letter from her pen pal, asking her to come west, making references to uninhibited sexuality. Shocked and forlorn, that woman shares this with the group.
Describing the reaction of my character to these revelations was challenging for me. Does she suspect her pen pal reacting the same way? Will this crush her inner spirit and fantasies? Will she be dismissive? How will she respond to her pen pal with these nagging doubts hanging over her?
What advice would you give other writers?
Write about what you know (or learn) and areas that interest you. For example, one of my recent characters is confronted with a large herd of stampeding buffalo that threaten to overrun an entire wagon train.
Researching these animals and historical tales of such early encounters (yes, these exist) helped me prepare my thoughts to write this portion of the story. As a writer, you have to ask yourself what are the logical questions from a scene; and then, answer these for the reader. For example, can a single horseback rider really have any effect, confronting hundreds of big animals? Well, how big are they? What are the sounds involved in such a scene? What about the terrain–does it make a difference? Is there a huge dust cloud thrown into the air by thousands of hoofs tearing up the ground? What is the rider armed with–rifle, whip, pistol, or maybe his horse–trying to change the herd’s direction? What happens if the horse fails and the rider falls before the thundering hoofs? What are the rider’s prospects of surviving?
Then, you have to have a plausible outcome; it may not be “standard,” but it has to be believable. “Yes,” the reader might say, ” I can picture that in my mind.”
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Using the practicale application of finance–what is doable.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I love the feel of a book in my hands when reading. Still, electronic readers are here and I have adapted. The monopoly of publishers has waned and with it, a flood or indie publishing opportunities. After writing and editing, the real challenge is marketing. Even here, new avenues are opening, such as this interview.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print