Lost and Found

Lost and Found

Landscape between Benson and Dragoon, Arizona        When I lived in southern Arizona in 1972 I never imagined I would write a book, much less a story set there.  Twenty-seven years later I was driving through my old Arizona haunts while researching a sixth historical...
“A Race of Convicts”

“A Race of Convicts”

       Here’s what that brilliant, scrofulous 18th-century English curmudgeon, Samuel Johnson, wrote about Americans.  “Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.”  Now why would Dr. Johnson say such a...
Chiggers and Cherokees

Chiggers and Cherokees

My editor, Pam Strickler, and I at a WWA conference              In 1983 I attended my first Western Writers of America conference in Amarillo Texas.  My Ballantine editor came with me because WWA had awarded Ride the Wind the Spur Award for best Long Historical Novel...
Fiction as Autobiography: Chapter One

Fiction as Autobiography: Chapter One

          When trying to imagine the experiences of dead and imaginary individuals from times long past, reference books can go only so far.  I have to get off the academic bus and strike out into my own malpais of memories.             That isn’t as far fetched as it...
Irreverent Sir-Reverence

Irreverent Sir-Reverence

“Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.” Mark Twain  (1835-1910) American history is taught in our schools.  Historical sound bites are repeated on Washington’s birthday, Lincoln’s birthday, the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving. Like most...
Shock and Ew-w-w-w

Shock and Ew-w-w-w

In 1979,  Ballantine Books gave me a contract to write a novel about the Comanches, a culture and tradition completely unknown to this Anglo-American East Coast native.  That first venture into historical research raised an unexpected question.  In 1836 what made the...

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