If you know your Wild West history (and who doesn’t?), you’ll see in The Gunfighter some suspicious telltales pointing to the less-than-heroic truth about some fabulous frontier characters and their abrupt and violent intersection with an orphan lad, Ronas, who is so desperate to escape his poor and miserable life he’ll do just about anything.
And anything is what these wild characters teach him to do.
Take Wyatt Earp, for instance. He wasn’t always the hero at the O.K. Corral portrayed in Cinerama and Technicolor. He was a Kansas saloon keeper (when saloon-keeping was an upright occupation) and faro dealer (a bit less upright) who stuck on a badge when he wanted to bounty hunt, sometimes for his pal Bat Masterson.
Earp, cold-eyed and pistol-whip-happy, shoves Ronas down the road to becoming the accidental gunfighter of the novel.
Or, worse, take “Dirty Dave” Rudabaugh (who may not really have been as averse to bathing as advertised). Some of his story, and Wyatt’s grand chase after Rudabaugh, went into making the great monster of this story, the psychopathic killer Lute Butterfield.
Butterfield shatters Ronas’ hopes for a decent life on the frontier but fires in him a hot determination for something even grander.
Scattered through the story are more true bits pulled from the history of the Old West, including the bitter fallout of the Civil War, a buffalo soldier and his deadeye-shot wife, range war and cowboy riot.
Best of all, I’m working on Book 2 in the “Legacy of the Gunfighter” series, a novel called The Outlaw, that takes Ronas’ search for a fresh start in life onto a Mississippi riverboat and the wild search for “Jeff Davis’ gold,” which may or may not be legend but certainly leads to adventure.
Whoa! you say. What’s this guy know about the West to write about it?
I’m a Westerner. Lived and worked in the parts of the West I write about. I know weapons. Combat veteran. I know frontier history. Civil War historian. When I don’t know something, I ask an old cowboy who lives a few miles up the road. And I love the freedom in the old stories and the landscape of the West, old and new.