Monday, May 18, 2009

Back in the saddle

I'm back. CANYON DIABLO, the sequel to HELLFIRE CANYON, has been delivered. I don't know if it's better than original, but it sure as hell is bigger. It took me twice as long to write it as I thought it would. This one takes Jacob Gamble into Arizona Territory in the 1880s. My editor, Gary Goldstein, helped me scout locations on the way to last year's Western Writers of America convention at Scottsdale.

In other news, I, QUANTRILL has been named a finalist for this year's Spur Award. At least I get a lunch out of it, next month at the Western Writers of America annual convention -- this year it's in Oklahoma City.

Also, here's a review of HELLFIRE CANYON from the Kansas Notable Book Committee:

Alf Bolin was a real person. An article by Vickie Hooper of Forsyth, Missouri, stated, “During the Civil War in Taney and Ozark Counties in southern Missouri, he was the cruelest man alive.” So when I picked up a copy of Hellfire Canyon by Max McCoy, I expected to read a bloody account of Alf’s escapades.

Instead, I was surprised by the touching tale of a young boy who endured sights, sounds and events that no child should ever have to experience. The book brings back familiar memories of Little Big Man telling his story.

The author, Max McCoy, begins the telling of one viewpoint of Alf’s tale by having the young boy who could have been Alf’s victim speak for himself to a reporter in a fairly modern-day bar. Alf becomes Jacob Gamble’s mentor. Jacob is a 12-year-old fiddle player who finds himself needing a “protector” and Alf fits the bill. He learns from the “expert” when it comes to cruel acts. Yet, Jacob maintains some of the tender heart he glimpsed occasionally from his Mother.

Do not misunderstand me. There is violence and it is bloody, but the story would not be as moving — you would really not to be able to feel what Jacob felt without the horror of Alf’s actions and his overall meanness.

Hellfire Canyon has now been awarded the Spur Award. As an avid reader who doesn’t usually read Westerns, I almost missed this one. Don’t let the paperback cover fool you; this is not just another cowboy story.