It grew out of my time as feature editor and writer for the Hot Springs (S.D.) Star. While there I was doing a regular column about historical events and people in the Southern Black Hills and I soon discovered that a lot of really famous people had chosen to come to the Hot Springs/Wind Cave area in the 1890s, among them such luminaries as Nellie Bly, Bat Masterson, Theodore Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Will Rogers. And, I learned of an outlaw gang that was terrorizing the region and who ran into a tough local lawman who put a stop to it by mobilizing both the local populace and some of his famous visitors. That, combined with my discovery of a long-missing shipment of gold that was hidden in the area gave me all the seeds I needed for a historical adventure/mystery that became "And The Wind Whispered."
What prompted the title of your newest book?
There's a Lakota legend (The Lakota Tribe resided in the Black Hills area and still has all the surrounding Reservations) that The Great Spirit moved beneath the sacred Black Hills and emerged from Wind Cave -- where the wind goes out each morning and back into the cave each evening -- to create "The People." It was said that, "The Wind Whispered, and the Great Spirit created The People. I make Wind Cave an integral part of my historical mystery and thus using the reference to this became another key part of my book.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love the experience of taking characters and what I know about them or imagine about them and not only bringing them together into a setting I've found or created but also into solving a problem, issue or concern that is something each reader can identify with on a day-in, day-out basis. And, I love telling stories about both real people and those reflective of real people and sharing how they can overcome problems to help one-another and the communities in which they live.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Without readers who are both pleased by what I have written and interested in talking and interacting with me about my writings, the hope that I've created something that they will enjoy and be happy to share with others will be completely lost. I love feedback of all sorts and am especially gratified when a reader sends a note that I can respond to and that will help me become an even better writer in my future work.
What are you working on next?
I actually have two different pieces going -- one an adventure/mystery set in the 1950s and the other a story set around the beginnings of the carving of Mount Rushmore (yes, I'm back in the Black Hills again) in the 1920s. I love that region and I've found that with "And The Wind Whispered" I also love writing historical fiction, so I'm going to keep working on both in my next few stories.
Who are your favorite authors?
I've always loved and admired James Michener for both the detail and scope of his many works. I also have become a big fan of the mysteries (and settings) of New Mexico writer Tony Hillerman. And, I suppose I'm joining the legions and legions of fans of James R.R. Martin.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I actually can't wait to get to the computer and start working on something, either writing a piece for my daily blog "A Writer's Moment" or adding something to one or another of my creative pieces. On top of that I continue to write features for a regional magazine and I'm always excited about meeting new people and telling their stories as part of that writing assignment.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I started as a sports writer and I love all kinds of sports, both watching and participating. I've also been a coach of both boys and girls for several sports and I like to go watch youth sports and cheer for local teams. I also love reading and read a newspaper, parts of a magazine, and on one book or another every single day. And, I enjoy television and movies and spend some time on that each week.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was in high school and I was asked to take a real event from when I was a little kid and make it over into something creative -- yet true. The result, which is still in my scrapbook, was called "The Gunslinger." My English teacher was so complimentary and gave me my first writing "A" for the effort, along with comments that really helped set the course for my writing life. I owe her much and have often told her so for that encouragement and assignment.
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