Man from Wolf River is my seventh traditional western novel. It was published in May 2001 by Leisure Books (Dorchester Publishing). As I planned and wrote this novel, I considered it to be in a somewhat lighter style than some of my previous works such as Coyote Trail and North of Cheyenne. I thought of it as being in the same spirit as Black Diamond Rendezvous, a work that I hoped had a bit of humor, a bit of dark irony, and some underlying serious value. This would also be a style that I would strive to continue in later works such as the Jimmy Clevis novels (Red Wind Crossing, Rancho Alegre, and Raven Springs). Man from Wolf River is available on Amazon.
For this kind of story, I work with a main character who is not quite as serious and pensive as, say, the protagonist of Coyote Trail or Lonesome Range, even though he gets into complications that are dead serious. This kind of character is more of a fun-loving, pleasure-seeking kind of a fellow who meets sexy women as well as sociopathic or psychopathic men with deep and narrow habits. In my own system of classifying, I think of these stories as being more lurid in their portrayal of pleasure and of evil than the straighter stories are.
I got my first inspiration for Owen Felver, the protagonist of Man from Wolf River, from a nineteenth-century photograph of a man sitting on his horse, inside the entryway of a saloon, drinking a glass of beer. It went well with my idea of a hedonistic character, so I opened the story with just that image. Having established that much, I went on (two paragraphs later) to have the character interact with a man who is looking in through the window of a café as another, younger man sits in his shadow.
Eventually it will come out that the man looking through the window is the antagonist and that in his secret life he has the habit of looking at things he ought not to. By the second page, the reader sees the man’s current object of interest, a young woman he seems to be in pursuit of. Naturally, the young woman (not exactly pristine and puritanical) is the kind of person Owen Felver should meet and become attracted to.The story goes on, with a variety of characters and complications. It was a fun story to write because of the interactions that Felver has with the other characters. It was also a satisfying story because I was able to deal with a topic that I consider serious and worthwhile—the problem (or offense) of invasion of privacy. On a small scale, I have had people pry into my life by reading my journal and other personal writings (such as letters not written for them), and I have also had my house burglarized and my property trespassed on, so I have some sense of what it feels like. These are small things, to be sure, in comparison with what others have endured. I have known people, some of them close to me, who have had presumptuous individuals barge into their personal lives and effects and, as it were, walk all over what should be private and inviolate. I find that kind of behavior repugnant, especially when it is done in the guise of respectability, as it sometimes is. I have also known people, mostly women, who have been trespassed upon physically, and I consider that action criminal, whether it is done within the sanctimonious claim of matrimony or otherwise. I took a gentler approach, both in the offense and in the poetic justice, in Man from Wolf River than I did in Black Diamond Rendezvous or the later work Raven Springs, but I thought I served a decent purpose. Not everyone will like how I did it (one reader wrote me that the book went back to the library pronto when she came to the scene in which the main character takes the girl into the tent), but I think most readers will agree that this story at least gives an honest try at dealing with people who look in through windows.