Interview with 74th Street Press*Olympia

What do you read for pleasure?
I love history, whether reading action/adventure historical novels for pleasure or doing research for one of my books. I suppose that is why I enjoy adding greater depth, flavor or the times, and authenticity to my work by linking historical events in my writing. 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, in some cases, to the invention of surnames in some geographic regions 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 upon these to create a framework for my stories.

And, I love the American west. By heavens, the settings provided are so varied. It has been an incredible canvas for many authors of western tales. I'm glad that I can participate.

Yes, I do like history.
What kindled your interest in the American frontier?
As a youngster, my family moved west over the storied 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 about 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 most of the locations used in my stories.
From your research, were there any areas that you found unsettling?
There have been several. Yet, for this interview, I cite the treatment of Native Americans in the nineteenth century. I have a better understanding of their plight, as westward expansion took place. Despite being fierce and resourceful, the oncoming tide of settlers ultimately swept Native American aside. This remains an historical stain on our American legacy.
Do you have any new books coming out in the near future?
Yes, I do. The novel, "Bride by Mail," is a story of love and adventure and is being published in 2013. Let me tell about it.

Independent and spirited, Eva is determined to seek a life that includes adventure and travel. Living in a small Ohio town in the 1880s, her prospects reduce to Will’s marriage proposal. Through fateful twists, she begins corresponding with Frank, a stranger who lives in the wilds of Washington Territory. As the love story unfolds, he asks her to come west and marry him. The prospect is exhilarating yet daunting. Eva's father adds to the tempest with his frequent lectures on marriage and family, noting that Eva will become an "old maid, in fact and age in a few years, with no one by your side, as you shrivel like a prune."

All the while, Frank's letters captivate Eva’s imagination with his adventures. Along with his brother, the young men head west with a wagon train and encounter dangers—stampedes, cutthroats, and stumbling onto the “silent killer” of early western trails. Unexpectedly reuniting with their uncle, they track outlaws and a stolen gold shipment. Adding to their peril is the scheming owner of the Sourdough Wind Mine in the gold mining camp of Yreka.

Her doubts persist when Frank issues his ultimatum.
What is your next project?
My next historical novel is entitled "k," set in a much different locale. It centers in the farming hamlet of Am Furtt, situated at the toll crossing over the Kupi River, presently the border between Slovenia and Croatia. The story spans several centuries, beginning with the vicious attacks by raiders from the Ottoman Empire followed by Napoleon's conquest in the early 1800s, compounded by the confines of a religion that is both strict and corrupt.

For half a millennium, families labor as serfs for absentee landowners, in the serfdom of Kostel. Men are tied to the same farmland, passing the right of use from father to son, generation after generation. Life is hard, and continued existence difficult. Consider that in the eighteenth century, the average age to marry is twenty-six, while average life expectancy is twenty-four years!
By the end of the 20th century, serfs are free, and beautiful, dark-haired Katrina is in love with an itinerant, handsome young Italian by the name of Leonardo. He's a happy-go-lucky sort, who loves to sing and tell stories, plays the trumpet, struts a bit, and is downright beguiling to beautiful Katrina. Their passionate love blossoms, only to be faced with the irresistible siren call of a better life in America, and Katrina's wily grandmother—who is sternly old-school, wealthy, and the matriarch of a family living in the same village for four centuries. The woman is set in her ways and, at one point, she informs her granddaughter, "All right, I will provide the funds, but I demand your first child."

“k” is based on true events and will be published in 2015.
Published 2013-09-19.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Carolinian
Series: Six Bulls of Missouri, Book 2. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 66,340. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Western & American frontier
Abraham, a recruit in General Andrew Jackson's ragtag army, faces the enemy in New Orleans and learns the eternal truth-God is blind to a man's color. Midwest Book Review says "A riveting story set against a tragic time in American History."The News Dispatch:"Brilliantly captures the essence pioneers(s) in 1830s." "Highly recommended for community libraries" by Michael Dunford, "wholly absorbing
Runaway Slave
Series: American Frontier--Short Stories by Richard Puz, Story 4. Price: Free! Words: 2,360. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Western & American frontier
Tobacco plantation owner Alvin Tolle is confronted with a split-second decision that will affect the rest of his life. All of my books are drawn from the American frontier in the 1800s. This story is about one man at the forefront of dealing with racism and slavery in North Carolina. Runaway is a snippet from my hard copy novel "The Carolinian," available at Amazon.
Canyon of Death
Series: American Frontier--Short Stories by Richard Puz, Story 9. Price: Free! Words: 5,880. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA
On the American Frontier in the 1800s, the greatest loss of life on the Oregon Trail was not from Indians, accidents, or weather. The biggest danger was unexpected, silent, and deadly. Josiah and his party come across a large herd of cattle on its way to the California gold fields with drovers that are dying or dead. Read Puz's latest novel, Bride by Mail.
Series: American Frontier--Short Stories by Richard Puz, Story 8. Price: Free! Words: 2,450. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General
Short Story about the American frontier in the 1800s. Prairies are one of God’s greatest gifts, but these can also turn deadly. Pioneers take desperate measures to save everything they have created.
Roaring River
Series: American Frontier--Short Stories by Richard Puz, Story 6 . Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,170. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General
Bushwhackers ambush two men, killing one. The survivor leads a posse to track down the band of killers, leading to an epic battle.
Danny Boy
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,520. Language: English. Published: September 24, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General
Whimsical and humorous, a riverbank tavern is the setting for pioneers quenching their thirst after long hot days on their wagon train journey to Indiana. They meet two riverboat men and have a merry time, hoisting rounds of boiler makers, until a fight breaks out in the tavern. Then—fists, knives, and pistols spice up the evening.